Too Big for Shapeways FUD Printer

I’ve 3D printed a fair number of things now with Shapeways, and while I’m still a long way from printing Mystery Rail Vehicle #3, I discovered one complicating factor on Friday shortly after my post on it.  85′ and longer passenger cars in HO Scale are too long for the FUD Printer Shapeways uses.  The underframe design draft that is in the linked post above, came out at 283.9mm in length.  The Carbody rough model came out at 289mm.  The maximum dimension for the FUD printer is 284mm.

July29 Shapeways3.jpgUh-Oh, a red part in a green box means the part is “too large” for Shapeways to print.

Yes, I know what you are thinking, think in 3 dimensions and there are a couple of ways you could get it to re-orient and print it.  It would print at an angle inside the box, and you are correct, it would, but that could have disastrous results for the print quality if it was angled from the print base rather than across it, or the cost based on how Shapeways prices the material if i added pieces to force it to print at 45 degrees corner to corner off the deck.  Fortunately, there may be a get out for me if i can design the car with separate ends from the carbody.  If the ends of the car were a separate piece, the car would then be short enough.  It would also give the possibility of providing greater flexibility for some changes to the ends of the car that happened over time.  Things to consider on a Saturday evening while organizing measurements taken today to help the project along.

2 thoughts on “Too Big for Shapeways FUD Printer

  1. One of my biggest pet peeves.

    This, unfortunately, is where a little intelligence on the part of the so-called print engineer is required. That commodity is in short supply.

    The newly permitted print orientation control doesn’t help at all in fitting in the box. While it will allow you to keep things level and right side up, there is no control over how the parts fit in the bounding box.

    Even a total idiot can see the part easily fits diagonally. What, pray tell, does it say about these people!

    All I can say is to put sprues, transforming the body into a Z shape. That should force the car to fit in the bounding box, since common sense doesn’t appear to be common enough. Of course, doing this drives your model’s footprint, and cost, up… you will be paying for empty space, although you know full well they will nest smaller models into that space and get paid twice for it.

    Perhaps a mocking e-mail on the SW forums might get their attention?

  2. Steve, you’ve accurately captured the issue in its entirety. Its a bit ridiculous that their system can’t think to turn the model 45 degrees and angle it across the print surface, as we all know they will cram as many things in as they can (and they are charging me for it anyways!!. As this car is some ways away from being ready to even thing about printing, I’m not too worried about it yet, but at some point i will be!! I can see the next bounding box i need to add to my initial model blocking out is the maximum print surface for FUD!

    The print orientation tool is crap. I don’t know if its their end of mine, but it barely works on one of the three computers i regularly access the site from, which is pretty damn inconvenient.

    Even with the possibility of modular car ends as the same body shell had 3-4 different potential ends depending on era and railway and specific car type, in a perfect world, I’d rather the entire “bathtub” as Shapeways would describe the body be printed in once piece if possible to minimize the risks of the sides sagging or bowing between printing and reaching an end user to install the ends.

    I suspect whenever the time comes to be ready to print, an annoyed email or ten to Shapeways will happen about their lack of desire to take my money!!


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