Experimental Plug Track - file exports for 3D printing

Martin Wynne

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secondly my inability of being able to use said machine

I may have misunderstood a previous post but the longevity of the resin seems questionable if unpainted and left in sunlight
@Hayfield

Hi John,

For the Templot chairs you don't need any ability to use the printer -- the files from Templot are ready to use. Just follow the instructions to make a few clicks on the computer and switch the printer on. :)

For other models, lots of modellers are making their model files available if you don't feel able to use CAD design software yourself, for example on RMweb. And there are huge libraries of other stuff online if you need a Toby jug or a new part for your vacuum cleaner. :)

Yes, resin-printed items are susceptible to UV light (as are many other plastics). They will harden and crumble over time if left in sunlight. They need to be painted to offer some protection, and preferably kept away from strong sunshine. Wayne probably mentions the need to paint his 3D-printed track bases in the instructions.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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timbersgalore

Member
Location
England
Hi Timbers,
Can you confirm that the concept of sockets in the sub layer works ok for you, and that it is practical to do away with any timber sprues?
If it does we can bunch the timbers up and get the most economical cuts of timbers.
Steve
Steve
I haven't explicitly tried, though it is an idea that appeals to me. Even though I made the spruces only 1mm wide and took precaution to get no glue under them they were remarkable resistant to being removed(but achievable). The sockets cut by my laser have a taper. I set may laser up (kerf offset) so that I get my nominal dimensions at the bottom. I put at taper on my plugs but slightly less (room for glue). I would need to re jig this so that the sub layer provides the positive location for the chair (provide clearance on the sleeper sockets). That done it stands a very good chance of working out OK. I would recommend using birch ply for this layer.

I would still want to attack a spruce to the timbers so that I did not end up with a bag of match sticks.

after cut.JPG


I would still want to atach a spruce to the timbers so that I could lift them from the cutter.
on machine.JPG

Timbers
 
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Martin Wynne

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Laser cutters are capable of understanding shapes. What it means is that when presented with a nested set of rectangles they work out what is inside and outside. The result is that the cut planner can works out which bits to cut first. It also means that the laser can provide the Kerf offset. It would be worth checking whether a cutting service is automatically applying it own kerf offset to closed figures. That said it would be usefully to have the timber outline and chair socket layers on there own layers. Here is a screen shot showing the cut layer from my recent test:-

View attachment 2154

A little shape manipulation is required to join the spruces to the timbers.
@timbersgalore

Hi Timbers,

Thanks for the screenshot. Is that from a Templot 2-D file or 3-D file?

For 2-D the timber outlines and sockets are on separate layers:

tc_timb_layers.png


In the 3-D files the timbers and sockets are all in one layer because they form a single solid object.

Laser cutters are capable of understanding shapes.

There are no rectangles or other area shapes in the Templot 2-D DXF files. Everything is a simple Line entity. The files are, or were originally, intended primarily for import into a CAD program for further track and layout design purposes.

For use on cutting machines there are other types of machine in addition to Laser cutters -- blade cutters, photo-etching, CNC milling machines, presses, stamping and blanking machines, etc.

I want to provide as many options and settings as possible to make the Templot DXF useful, but ultimately it is down to the user to know their own machine and how best to use the Templot DXF on it. If the kerf adjustment is not wanted, the layers can be switched off or the kerf width set to zero.

At present home laser cutters are much more expensive than an FDM printer, so the latter is more likely to be available to many Templot users. At least for the present my main focus is on the FDM timbering bricks for Plug Track. There has been a lot of recent discussion in this topic about laser cutting, but I suspect the majority interest will be in FDM printing for the timbering. I may be proved wrong as machine prices change, but I still feel that FDM printing will be the most user-friendly option for home pointwork construction, and is capable of excellent results comparable with injection-moulded track:

index.php


Also, an FDM machine can be used to make the rail filing and bending jigs needed.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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timbersgalore

Member
Location
England
Very much the 2D dxf. I am still basicly using the same work flow as for 227. I have descovered it is very straighforward to place my own socket outlines using the track edge and timber centre line. Is everything you mentioned in the live version of 228 or is it unrealeased?

You track sample looks good, is that 7mm scale?

I have just completed another iteration of the GWR 95 chair. I used no fill below key but with the key heights fixed. I have also switched to ABS like resin. The Phrozen stuf as very little smell. Even able to use it in the house! I still have a small tweek to make the jaw height the same. The good new is that with a close fitting key the rail is firmly held.

b1.JPG



b2.JPG



b3.JPG


Timbers
 
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Martin Wynne

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I have descovered it is very straighforward to place my own socket outlines using the track edge and timber centre line. Is everything you mentioned in the live version of 228 or is it unrealeased?

You track sample looks good, is that 7mm scale?
@timbersgalore

Hi Timbers,

Sorry, I can't remember what is in 228a. I think I put the bare minimum for folks to experiment. I'm planning to release an utterly experimental 228b shortly.

Which track sample? This one is 4mm/ft scale (EM):

em_chaired_fdm.jpg


I have held off playing with 7mm for now because I just know I will get distracted. I expect the results to look good, but the limited FDM build area will be a challenge.

Your GWR chair is now looking much better. :) Your key might be a bit short -- prototype keys are 6" long, i.e. 2" longer than the chair jaw.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Timbers,
Thanks for sharing all that useful information.

Laser Cutting
For my experiments the laser cutting service I used (4D model making materials) did not mention that their laser cutter understood shapes nor did they tell me what software they used to control the laser cutter.
When I asked them about the difference between their meaning of an inner cut(blue) and and outline cut(green) they just stated that the laser cut all the blue lines first then the green lines.
The principle being that if the timbers were cut before the sockets they could not guarantee that the sockets would be in the right place.
They required artwork with 0.076mm line width.
They also stated that if i wanted timbers 4mm wide and 32mm long I should add half the kerf (in their case 0.2mm) to the dimensions all round, and as far as the sockets were concerened (inner cuts) that I should subtract half the kerf all round.
Using Templot 228a, Martin suggested a work around to achieve this as far as the timbers were concerned, and he had already suggested a method to Ralph for adjusting socket size which I used.
I then used Inksape to open the resultant .DFX file so that I could copy the sockets to a separate layer and change their colour.
Martin has kindly added this experimental ability in to his next Templot release, together with the enhancement of putting the sockets in a separate layer thus making it easy to also produce a cutting file for a trackbed layer that the acts as a jig for the timbers layer, thus obviating the need for sprues holding the timbers in the right position.

The chairs I produce ( using an Elegoo Mars 2 pro, arriving in next 3 hours) will have longer pegs so that they go through the timbers and into the trackbed layer.
Also in my experiment I output both a straight B7 turnout and a curved B7 turnout, as I wanted to see whether there was any difference in the socket poitions on the timbers between a curved and a straight turnout.
Martin has since confirmed that there is no difference.
This means that I can get all the timbers cut as straight turnouts, and get the grain oriented parallel to the long edge of the timbers, also bunch them together to minimise cutting costs.

Rail Profile
I have just measued the web thickness (without filing head or foot) of some of the rails that Wayne Kinney has provided in 4 OO-SF B7 turnout kits with my cheap(powerfix) digital caliper and they appear to be 0.39mm. I checked the accuracy of the calipers using a 0.40mm thick feeler gauge (draper).
I believe Wayne sources this rail from the E.M.G.S.
I then tried measuring some rail lengths purchased from Scalefour Society a couple of years ago and these had 0.39mm thick webs.

Steve
 
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Yes socket outiles are available in 228a (the current released version) :-
First you need to switch on the experimental chairing
Real > Chairing/3D > Experimental chairing.

Then you can:-
Output > Export a file (PDF, PNG, EMF, DXF, STL.....
Click on the [Create DXF/STL] button in the Export CAD file box.
Leave it as 2-D DXF , click on [timbers only] button
change some other parameters you might want for instance the [chair socket fit] button brings up:-
1631109775716.png

This screen capture shows the defaults.
I used the "socket side clearance" & set it to minus 0.25 to reduce the standard socket width of 2mm to 1.5mm.
(but in reality as the laser cutting service had a kerf of 0.2mm, this actually made the true (as cut) socket width 1.7mm.

Then when you click on the green [export DXF/STL file] box/button in bottom left, the resultant .DXF file has a layer named TIMBOUTL which contains the lines for both timbers and sockets.

I then just opened the .DXF file directly with Inkscape (because thats what I had available), added a new layer called SOCKOUTL and then selected all the sockets in the layer TIMBOUTL and MOVED them to the layer SOCKOUTL.

Steve
 
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Derek

Member
Location
UK, Midlands
Martin/ John

Amazon has a deal on at the moment for the Elegoo Mars 2P and a wash/ cure unit. I forget the exact price but it's a lot cheaper than buying both separately. I've no idea whether the 'cure/ wash cabinet' is better than a UV lamp and cleaning materials.

Derek
 
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Martin Wynne

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@timbersgalore @Steve_Cornford

Hi Timbers,

I have moved your post to a new separate topic because what you are doing is not Plug Track -- the new topic is here:

https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.php?threads/laser-cutting-from-dxf-file-export.273/

I desperately want this topic to be about Plug Track only -- folks are so quick to get the wrong end of the stick that it's a constant battle of wits to keep topics on course and prevent confusion. Otherwise it takes hours of my time to unsort the confusion and explain everything, over and over again.

In Plug Track the chairs are slid onto the prepared rail first, one at a time, and the chaired rail is then pressed vertically into the timbering base. If you fit the chairs into the timbers first, the rail must then slide endways through the chairs. Which is doable for simple formations, but impossible for any rails which contain a set bend or knuckle bend or bent check flare, or are otherwise obstructed by other rails already in place.

I can see that I'm going to have make a rubber stamp with this explanation, because time and again folks are going to assume that the rails slide into the timbering base, as in pointwork kits. I shall be explaining the difference over and over again until the end of time, just as I have been doing for 15 years now with 00-SF on RMweb. :(

Steve's idea for sockets in the trackbed is that you use separate locator plugs to locate and fix the timbers to the trackbed:

index.php

These are then removed when the glue has set, and the chaired rail is then pressed into the timbers. This avoids the need for any sprues or webbing between the timbers to align them.

I'm still in two minds about this, because the gauging and rail alignment is set by the chairs and timbers, so the sockets in the trackbed will need to be cut with the same precision as the sockets in the timbers. I can imagine therefore that it will need 2 sublayers to work -- the usual soft cork or balsa trackbed, and then a solid layer of the same material as the timbers, containing the additional sockets. With the risk of warping and distortion as yet untried.

p.s. the excessive bottom taper on the locator plugs in the above screenshot has been removed in 228b.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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The chairs I produce ( using an Elegoo Mars 2 pro, arriving in next 3 hours) will have longer pegs so that they go through the timbers and into the trackbed layer.
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

If you do that it will not be Plug Track because you will be sliding the rail through the chairs afterwards -- see my previous post.

As you previously explained it, you wanted to use separate removable locator plugs to fix the timbers to the trackbed. Before adding the chaired rail.

Presumably the printer has now arrived -- if you chose it based on my comments I hope you are pleased with it. It's a marvellous piece of kit. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin,
You are right, I forgot to mention that first I would use locator pegs when glueing the timbers to the trackbed.
As an experiment I plan to make the locator pegs with the baseplate on the top, then having applied glue to timbers and positioned them on the trackbed pop the whole assembly, baseboard, tracbed, timbers and locator pegs into a large vacuum clothes bag and attach a vacuum cleaner to let atmospheric pressure apply an even pressure to the whole face of the timbers.
I have used the vacuum bag trick when laminating several layers of thin plywood before to achieve very even gluing particularly on curved surfaces.
But once this is done and the locator pegs removed I assumed that it would not hurt to use longer pegs on the actual chairs for a stronger fix, however this would use more resin.
So after removing locator pegs I would thread the rail into the chairs, then plug the chairs into the sockets.

Yes box has arrived labelled Mars 2 Pro.
I did base my choice on your comments and on some other comments, especially from people who have had other makes but have added the Mars to their stable.
So thank you for all the usefull advice and tips on its use that you have detailed in your Messin with Resin topic
Just waiting for some other bits to arrive before i dare unbox it & get going.
In the meantime am learning more Templot skills and playing with some of Waynes kits.
Steve
 
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Martin Wynne

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But once this is done and the locator pegs removed I assumed that it would not hurt to use longer plugs on the actual chairs for a stronger fix, however this would use more resin.
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

Having longer plugs on the chairs will make them easier to handle when threading them onto the rail. You would also be able to use a more pronounced bottom taper on the plugs, which makes it easier to align them all over the sockets before pressing the rail home.

The short default plug depth in 228a was to allow for the option of blind sockets in the FDM timbers (which strengthens the timber and removes the need for the side flanges):

index.php


from: https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.p...d-printing-and-2d-laser-cutting.229/post-1870

In 4mm scale some users will also want to use thin 1/32" (0.8mm) timbers matching Brook Smith riveted ply (and SMP Scaleway flexi-track). Which by itself allows for almost no bottom taper on the plugs, but if done in ply rather than FDM and combined with your socketed sub-bed it would do.

It would also be possible to combine 3D-printed timbers (with through sockets) with laser-cut sockets in a sub-bed. This would allow bunched timbers to be resin printed without side flanges or webs. Saving on the cost of the laser-cutting if you already have a resin printer.

So many options and settings! :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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I have just completed another iteration of the GWR 95 chair.

View attachment 2164
@timbersgalore

Hi Timbers,

The GWR S1 chair (for BS-95R rail) is 8" wide*, and sleepers are 10" wide. Your chair appears to be occupying the full width of the sleeper, so either the chair is too wide, or the sleepers are too narrow? Is this the result of the laser kerf on the cut sleepers?

If they were REA S1 chairs (3-screw) it would look like a length of plain track laid with all S1J joint chairs, which would be extremely unusual but just about feasible. But as far as I know the GWR didn't use any joint chairs.

*the GWR 00-Ordinary chair (for their 00 rail) is 7.1/2" wide, so the effect would be even more noticeable.

The grain effect on your sleepers is excellent, although suggests very old sleepers more likely to be seen on branch lines and yards rather than on a main running line.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Paul Boyd

Member
Location
Loughborough, UK
This is all now all getting very confusing. I was following this thread for interest to see what could come out of Templot but it seems now to be covering lots of different methods and opinons of building 3D printed track.

Although I don't have a 3D printer, nor the space to put one, that doesn't preclude me from getting chairs printed!
 
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Martin Wynne

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This is all now all getting very confusing.
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

I agree. Which is why I have hived off the stuff about DXF for laser cutters into a separate topic, and moved some posts about track-building methods into the methods and materials section.

This topic is about the Templot program and its Plug Track output, to create 3D-printed track without requiring any CAD design skills.

The unpainted result looks like this (this is 4mm/ft EM gauge):

index.php


The default option from Templot will be to export 3 STL files for the 3D printing.

To make Plug Track for a section of a track plan which I am calling a "timbering brick" (in my case roughly 8" square). It can't normally be a whole template because of size restrictions on FDM (filament) printers, but it may contain sections from more than one template. The bricks will clip together like Lego to create the full track plan (which is why I call them "bricks").

1. a file for FDM filament printing of the timbering base.

2. a file to create a corresponding set of plug-in chairs on a resin printer.

3. optionally a file to create rail filing and bending jigs for the required switches and crossing angles, on an FDM printer.

Resin and FDM printers are now getting quite popular among modellers, but for those without them the files could be sent to commercial 3D printing services (or to friends).

But I want to include other options for those who want them if I can. It should get a lot less confusing when I can remove the word "experimental" from the topic title and describe what actually is, rather than several ideas that I'm trying and what might be one day.

If anyone finds it too confusing the best advice would be to ignore this topic until that happy day arrives. But don't hold your breath. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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I forgot to post this.

These stabilising webbing links between adjacent templates in a brick are called "splints":

brick_splints.png

They are added manually by drawing line shapes in the background shapes. You can have as many as you like. The default size is 9" wide by 1.5" thick (scale), but can be set to whatever you want. At that thickness (0.5mm in 4mm scale) they match the timber flanges and can be hidden under the ballast. If made thicker they would need to be cut out after track-laying.

I tried to generate them automatically, but a usable algorithm proved too difficult. It needs a human eye to position them sensibly, and some experience with the printer and polymer in use.

In 3-D files all background line shapes are treated as brick splints -- they go in the BKSPLINT layer, and can be turned off there if not wanted.

Remember to save the BGS3 file! (Also for the chair support slabs, which work similarly for all background rectangle shapes.)

In 2-D files background line shapes are drawn as plain lines, in the SBGSHAPE layer (or DBGSHAPE layer if dotted lines), and can be turned off there if not wanted (no change for 20 years in that). Likewise background rectangle shapes in the same 2-D layer.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Just to add that if you export the above without the timbers, you could print this:

3d_template.png


In other words a 3D template into which resin-printed timbers, or laser-cut timbers, could be located. It could be removed from the underside of the finished pointwork in the same way as a paper template. Or if thin enough it could be left in the ballast.

If laser-cut instead, it would have to be done from a 3-D DXF, not 2-D.

If you increase the timber flange width to 12", and don't mind using more polymer, you don't need the timber web links and get this:

3d_template1.png


I'm minded to call this option a timbering "fret" and put it all in a single layer, but I'm desperate not to keep confusing people by adding more and more options.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Martin Wynne

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Just a reminder that nothing in the experimental 3-D chairing is yet working as finally intended. I released it in version 228a only to allow folks to see what I'm doing and tinker about with it, not to use it for real for any actual modelling purpose. Please do not post bug reports related to anything in the 3-D chairing -- until it is finished everything in it is a bug. :)

See these posts:

https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.p...ck-file-exports-for-3d-printing.229/post-1831

https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.p...ck-file-exports-for-3d-printing.229/post-1838

To use 228a as a normal Templot program update, please leave this setting on the default no chairing:
no_chairing.png


If you then find anything going wrong, it is a genuine bug, so please report it in the usual way. Thanks.

Please be aware that the above setting is template-specific, so if you have turned it on for any template you will need to turn it off on each one separately, or click the modify group to match function above.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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