Resin Casting on my Own

Almost a year ago I took my first tentative steps into the world of casting my own parts in Resin thanks to my friend Ryan and a Saturday at his place working on models together with him and Trevor. Sadly, Covid has caused this to become a more common thing, as a number of us now have a Saturday night zoom chat where we all sit at our workbenches in our home and work and chat and have a drink virtually. It’s easier than packing up and going to someone else’s place to work, but not quite the same.

IMG_2453A stack of new supplies from Sculpture Supply Canada for making molds and casting in resin.

I am starting this adventure with basic stuff, two part silicone for mold making, and resin, that doesn’t require anything more complicated than mixing equal parts of the two liquids in each kid. The mold material cures it says in half an hour (I’m finding better results at giving it 2 or 3, and the resin says it cures in 10 minutes (again, half an hour or more is better). The parts I am casting are basic parts, manhole covers and storm sewer drains for the streets on my layout. I have drawn the different styles that are on Toronto streets, they will be a subtle detail in the layout, but I will know they are there and not generic, and that means a lot to me.

My first mold made at home, from top left top row: The Mold Box, the Silicone parts, measured out & bottom row: gently pouring silicone, weighting down while curing to get a smooth back, ready to demold, and the cast part.

So, full disclosure, the first mold I poured in the picture above, failed, I didn’t give it enough curing time, and it was a goopy mess. Lesson learned, be patient, just let it sit and cure, there is no rush here other than my own urges to see if I have succeeded!

Subsequent molds, see how much nicer they look when you let them fully cure?

I have two styles of manhole covers (water/Sewer and Hydro), and storm drain covers. I need about 50 of each manhole, and about 70 of the storm drains, give or take. As I wasn’t sure I would get 10 of each from each mold (manholes I am, storm drains I’m getting 9 per mold from a couple of damaged prints. If I’d have been smart, I’d have made one mold box of 10 good parts, and made multiple molds from that, instead, I made two mold boxes and made 3 molds, each with one defective piece!

Mixing resin, settling the parts, and pulling out completed manhole covers.

The nice part about the fast setting resin, is that I’ve basically made all the parts I need now. I probably need to do one more run of the five molds to have extras, then I can sit down some evening and clean all the castings and prepare them for painting and installing onto the layout. I started the roads stamping spots for the covers, I’m not entirely happy with how that worked, as I’m going to need to go back and putty around them to fill gaps. I think it will work better if I pre-paint the parts, and sink them into the drywall compound roads as they are almost dry. It will let me blend them into the compound, and they can be painted around when I paint the roads/touched up later.

IMG_2528A manhole I 3D modelled, had printed, and cast in resin in the layout. Needs painted and you can see where the roads still need some cleanup!.

This is one of those weird ones. In theory, resin parts are cheaper than 3D printing, and if I did the math of going to shapeways and getting 75 storm drain covers cast, it probably winds up being more than the resin supplies, but what’s more important than the cost is the learning a new skill. I want to, no need to do a lot of custom windows for my layout, and at the cost of having them printed, shipped, and likely paying duties, having learned how to cast means that I can print a single window master for each different one, and cast as many as I need in resin. This is where the cost savings will come down the line, in doing bigger parts for my buildings, these small street details are really just my training wheels!

IMG_2537Five full molds. Yeah, you can see some nasty air bubbles on one mold. Most of the parts are actually ok, but learning as I go to be careful pouring and working to avoid wasting resin on failed parts.

For anyone still reading, this will be post 500 on this Blog since I started writing it in May 2016. I’ve come a long way and a lot has changed since my first post, but my love of the hobby hasn’t. I hope those of you who read enjoy my prattling on as I muddle through this adventure of building my prototype layout of Liberty Village.

Starting the 3D Window Making Process

While my layout may not be large, I still have a decent number of buildings on it, 14 in total based on the count from starting measuring foundations for them last week. Conservatively, 8 of them have windows that are not going to be off the shelf styrene windows. Before I did the building inventory last week, I had started an important process, creating the masters for windows for one of the first buildings I am going to build. Because I am modelling a real location, for a lot of buildings, the commercial available windows won’t do. A big part of re-creating the look and feel of real buildings is the windows. A lot of little details can be fudged in, but the windows and their patterns really make a building.

The first stage of this was taking the information I have on the building, in this case, original blueprints for the Toronto Carpet Factory from the Toronto Archives, and sketching up a not to scale plan of the different window types to determine how many types of different pattern there are. For a building segment that is 5″ deep off the wall, I’ve got 11 different styles of window, and three different doors to create!

Blueprint of Toronto Carpet Windows, and sketching out the building and the different window types and locations.

Having the blueprints for the south extension, the part of the building I am modelling is a huge help. It’s let me make sure that I’ve got the shape of the building, the spacing of windows and the design of them as close to right as I can. It will also help me to establish the scale of all the other buildings on the layout, as I am able to go to Liberty Village and compare their heights with this building, which I have known height for and which still exists.

For the windows, I am planning on 3D printing as master, making a mold and casting the windows in resin. This both will help me to build a new skill, and is cheaper than 3D printing. The resin parts will also be more stable long term. There is also a potential to sell some of the resin parts to other modellers, while there would be more work in it for me, the margins are probably better as I’ll be able to sell resin castings for less than 3D prints.

The first window done, in my 3D software on the left, and uploaded to Shapeways to check its printability.

Its been a while since I have spent much time in the 3D modelling software drawing parts. It was nice how quickly it came back to me. I’m happy with the results of the first window I’ve done, and I’ve now got a set of standards for the Carpet Factory windows in terms of minimum dimensions for the frames to be printable. That’s one down and 16 window styles to go, for the first building!!

Pending Shapeways Store Price Increases

UPDATE, JANUARY 30, 2019 – Shapeways emailed today saying the pricing adjustment for FUD plastics like my models are in is temporarily on hold while they try to work out some pricing issues with the changes. They are saying a few weeks, I will update this post again when a new date is announded.


I’m not sure how many people who stumble across my blog wind up being the ones who buy things from my Shapeways Store, but it seems only fair to warn people about an impending price increase. Shapeways told designers/sellers some time ago that their pricing structure was changing to factor in more things into the costing, which is a mix of material, machine space, and part handling charges. When they first told us, they said anything already on sale as being grandfathered at its current price until sometime in 2019. That time has finally arrived, and on February 4th, the new prices will go into effect. For most of my models, the price changes are not significant, and to be fully honest, a few things like the CNR/CPR Don Station and Cabin D signal boxes will actually go down a bit in price, but some of my top sellers, the S Scale Speeder Cars will be going up in price $3-4 US depending on the car and the material choice made (Smooth vs Smoothest Detail Plastic). The S Scale Speeders are currently between $18-$25US depending on the material.After February 4th, they will be between $22-$28US, so get them while they are a bit less.

 

Getting Cheaper, Don Station, getting more expensive, CNR D-1 components and Speeder cars in HO and S.

S Scale Speeders – M14, S2

HO Scale Speeders – M14, S2, Woodings CBI

I’m not happy about this, as they are really good sellers, but there is also no value in selling them as the couple of dollars I make on each fund me doing test prints for other projects that are in the work, unfortunately, as with everything, the cost of production is going up, and some of that has to get passed on to the end user. We will see if it affects sales. I’ll have to revisit this in say six months time, but its so hard to know with S Scale whether a change in sales is because I’ve literally sold to every S Scale modeller who wants them, or if the small price increase has driven people away.

 

The S Scale Resource Online Magazine

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This is a thank you to the S Scale Community in response to the two Speeder Cars I have available on Shapeways.  I really should have bet Trevor on how many I’d sell.  I’d also like to thank the publisher of the online magazine the S Scale Resource for including my two speeder cars in their most recent issue to spread the word after a number of modellers who have bought them posted about them on various forums.

The S Scale Resource and its sister the O Scale Resource are free online magazines published by modellers.  Even if you aren’t in these scales, they have lots of great articles about modelling techniques that can be applied to other scales.  They are ad-supported, so if you sign up, visit and support their advertisers, it keeps great hard-working modellers who want to help build communities going and giving out a great resource to the rest of us for free!!

SScaleScreenCapLookit That, my speeder model in digital print being advertised to others!!  In the August-September 2018 issue.

Let it never be said I don’ t listen – Another S Scale Speeder Car Available

So to follow up on my post from the weekend, I’m rolling the dice to see if there is interest in a second type of 3D printed S Scale speeder car.  The Fairmont M14, another speeder in the collection of the Toronto Railway Museum that I have produced an HO Scale version of, has been converted to S Scale and Sn42 Narrow Gauge for my one customer (from and modelling all the way east in Newfoundland if memory serves!!).

No pictures, as I haven’t ordered them for myself yet, but I’ve made the adjustments I think are needed, and put them up for sale on my Shapeways Store at the links below the pictures.

Shapeways Renders of the S Scale standard gauge (left) and Sn42 Narrow Gauge (right) Fairmont M14 Speeder Cars.  The body details are the same other than some adjustments to get the body to fit the narrower wheels on the Sn42.

As I haven’t ordered them myself yet, I’m relying on this car having the same frame structure as the S2 Speeder to make sure the parts work and fit together when printed.

Hopefully the S Scale community finds these useful additions to their modelling.

Shapeways Sales Review – Who knows what will sell? It sure isn’t me.

The model railroad industry is a surprisingly competitive place, and it certainly isn’t a place where people go (at least not sane people) go to try to make money unless they have a lot of dedication or are crazy (see Exhibit A Jason Shron of Rapido Trains).  I’m a hobbyist, but one with some skills in 3D design, and whose dabbled in 3D printing for our hobby.  As part of this, I’ve been able to make some of the 3D printed bits and pieces I’ve done for my models available through my Shapeways Store.  I’ve sold a fair bit of stuff, but not nearly enough to make any kind of living or consider it to be a real business.  It’s a pleasing sideline to the things I need for myself to fund me buying things I design for myself.  I’m not treating it as a business, and have no plans too, but the emails when things are bought always amaze me and I’m constantly amazed at what sells.

imgp4766My Best Selling Item – A Sprue of HO Scale BBQ propane tanks. I’ve sold 39!!

My top three selling items are all HO Scale little details, the aforementioned sprue of BBQ gas tanks above, a block of 4 HO Scale lockers, then a residential BBQ.  Perfectly sensible small items that are all fairly cheap, and not readily available from commercial manufacturers.  This however, is where it gets weird.  My fourth best-selling item, is something I did initially as a “this would be nice for my friends layout”, a resizing of the HO Scale Canadian National Fairmont Speeder Car into S Scale.

The S Scale Fairmont S2 speeder on its own, and alongside its little HO Scale brother.

Not including the one I printed myself that was gifted to Trevor Marshall, I have now sold 22 of these!! I’ve only sold 18 in HO Scale in a much bigger pond than the S Scale universe.  The message here, is twofold, one, as Trevor keeps telling me, there is a pent-up demand in the S Scale universe for products, and two, even in S scale, something small ish like a speeder can be a profitable item at a reasonable price where its affordable enough to sell lots, but where I can have enough markup to actually make some money from it.

I’ve had a number of people as about the Fairmont M14 speeder I’ve done in HO in S Scale.  I am seriously considering looking at re-scaling it and doing it in S Scale, if there really is a market out there, I’d like to help those modellers, and I’m not going to complain about a few extra dollars in my pockets every month!

imgp6081rawconvFairmont M14 Speeder in HO Scale, aparently coming soon in S Scale based on market demand!

So, with that, S-Scalers, I still don’t do commissions or take on outside work, as my 3D modelling time is my lunch break at work, but if you see anything in the handful of small items or detail parts I offer in HO on Shapeways that you really think you must have or there is a market for, let me know in the comments.  That may be enough to push me over the top into adjusting the 3D model and offering it to you.