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Atlas and Bowser Factories Closed

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, August 1, 2018 4:45 PM

So does anybody know? 

Could current 3D printing technology produce locomotives with "molded on" details as fine and independent looking as the wire details found in modern hand-assembled locomotives?  Or would the details be coarser?

It might not be long before some company takes the plunge into full high tech production methods to steer away from the sourcing/labor issue. Not to mention mold makers.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, August 1, 2018 4:53 PM

Mike Bude is a regular on Ken Patterson's videos and he is as much a car guy as a model railroader.  The cars he gets from Shapeways have a rough texture and need sanding so I would say no unless there are better printers than what Shapeways uses.

Henry

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Posted by NittanyLion on Wednesday, August 1, 2018 5:43 PM

There are 3D printers capable of the finish and detail, but I don't think anyone is going to buy an SD40-2 for prices that rival a cheap used car. 

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, August 1, 2018 6:35 PM

Henry

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, August 2, 2018 7:10 AM

3D printing may never have a chance to equal what can be doone with automated punch and die machines to make wire grabs. You have machines that can take in raw material at one end and spit out hundreds of grabs per hour. 4 such machine can be easily tended by one operator, who does NOT need to be any sort of master machinist. A plant full of these machines, with one or two actual experts who can fix them/correct the program/etc plus a few operators to tend them can produce more grabs and ladders in various forms and in scale sizes far more effectively than any sort of 3D printer setup. You probbaly don;t even need that many machines to keep up with the demands - production is so fast yoou cna run one type for a week and have more than a year's supply, switch dies to a different style, crank out those, etc. If suddenly every modeler wanted to use only scale size wire grabs on every piece of rolling stock, suppliers could easily keep pace. For things like this, it's possible to make them in a higher wage country because in the course of a day's pay, the worker makes literally thousands of them, so labor cost per grab is so exceedingly low it doesn't make enough of a dent to move the entire factory to another country just to pay the workers less. ANd since we're not talking about any high precision requirements (and there are PLENTY of US-based machine shops always busy with the real precision stuff - we DO still make things here), QC on the grabs and ladders is basically picking out any deformed looking ones because the material didn't sit in the die properly. Compared to the stuff I did - micrometer readings, go/no go gauge tests, etc down to a few tenths for jet engine parts - model railroad parts are nothing.

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Posted by Eric White on Thursday, August 2, 2018 9:00 AM

To more directly answer your question, yes, you could print an HO scale diesel shell with all sorts of detail as part of one print, but it wouldn't necessarily be the best way to do it.

An interesting early use for 3-D printed model parts was a detail part for a commercial jet engine intake turbine. The full-size part is an assembly of tightly fitting curved blades that would be impossible to mold in plastic due to the interlocking nature of the shapes, but a 3-D printer building up the layers of the parts could make a model in 1:144 scale that accurately duplicated the shapes.

To apply that to model railroading, you could design a print that would have all of the radiator detail printed in place as far back as you wanted to go, down to about .1mm for raised or embossed details, or wall thicknesses from .3mm to .6mm.

Eric

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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, August 3, 2018 3:26 AM

This morning I got a list of affacted and not affected companies from a German dealer. Thanks to All American Trains.

Affected are:

Atlas (Official Announcement)
Bluford Shops (Official Announcement)
Bowser (Official Announcement)
ExactRail (Official Announcement)
Fox Valley Models (Official Announcement)
Intermountain (Official Announcement)
Spring Mills Depot (Official Announcement)
Trainworx (Official Announcement)
Wheels of Time (Official Announcement)

Not affected are:

Athearn (Official Announcement)
Bachmann/Kader - Kader owns their factories
Rapido (Official Announcement)
Scale Trains (Official Announcement)
Walthers (Official Announcement)

Not buying from China:

Accurail (Illinois based with in house production)
MTL (Oregon based with in house production)
Kadee (Oregon based with in house production)
Kato (Japanese company with production based in Japan)
Shinohara (Japanese based, but shutting down due to retirement)

Regards, Volker

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, August 3, 2018 4:22 AM

With Shinohara shutting down due to retirement, has anyone heard anything about a possible buyer?

Shinohara makes a lot of Code 83 specialty track for Walthers including curved turnouts, 3-ways, wyes, double crossovers, and bridge track.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by tstage on Friday, August 3, 2018 4:53 AM

Doughless

Could current 3D printing technology produce locomotives with "molded on" details as fine and independent looking as the wire details found in modern hand-assembled locomotives?  Or would the details be coarser?

3D-quality will remain inferior to injection molding until they can improve the resolution.  While it has improved some over the years, it's still too grainy and rough for smooth exterior work.

There's also the time factor.  Once the metal molds are machined, injection molding is much quicker than 3D printing in churning out parts; the latter usually done one piece at a time.

And good injection molding also yields little-to-no flash.  IIRC, more intricate 3D printing requires some clean up work (with water) at the end of the process to remove the built-in support system.

Tom

https://tstage9.wixsite.com/nyc-modeling

Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

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Posted by Doughless on Friday, August 3, 2018 8:16 AM

tstage

 3D-quality will remain inferior to injection molding until they can improve the resolution.  While it has improved some over the years, it's still too grainy and rough for smooth exterior work.

There's also the time factor.  Once the metal molds are machined, injection molding is much quicker than 3D printing in churning out parts; the latter usually done one piece at a time.

And good injection molding also yields little-to-no flash.  IIRC, more intricate 3D printing requires some clean up work (with water) at the end of the process to remove the built-in support system.

Tom

 

Seems like we are a long ways off from not needing labor for assembly.  Even if 3D printing becomes economical for printing parts, those parts still need to be assembled.

Anyway, it doesn't sound like labor issues have created this specific closure.  Sounds more like a retirement issue.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, August 3, 2018 8:24 AM

The truth is out there.  AlienLightningStorm

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by 1to3 on Friday, August 3, 2018 9:48 AM

tstage
Doughless Could current 3D printing technology produce locomotives with "molded on" details as fine and independent looking as the wire details found in modern hand-assembled locomotives?  Or would the details be coarser? 3D-quality will remain inferior to injection molding until they can improve the resolution.  While it has improved some over the years, it's still too grainy and rough for smooth exterior work. There's also the time factor.  Once the metal molds are machined, injection molding is much quicker than 3D printing in churning out parts; the latter usually done one piece at a time. And good injection molding also yields little-to-no flash.  IIRC, more intricate 3D printing requires some clean up work (with water) at the end of the process to remove the built-in support system. Tom

 

 
Doughless

Could current 3D printing technology produce locomotives with "molded on" details as fine and independent looking as the wire details found in modern hand-assembled locomotives?  Or would the details be coarser?

 

 

3D-quality will remain inferior to injection molding until they can improve the resolution.  While it has improved some over the years, it's still too grainy and rough for smooth exterior work.

There's also the time factor.  Once the metal molds are machined, injection molding is much quicker than 3D printing in churning out parts; the latter usually done one piece at a time.

And good injection molding also yields little-to-no flash.  IIRC, more intricate 3D printing requires some clean up work (with water) at the end of the process to remove the built-in support system.

Tom

 

[/quote]

Tom is correct.  3D quality is years away from (if ever) doing what injection molding can do.  Detail, finish, time... all of these things are not something that 3D can compete on.  Currently 3D printing is great for design stages of trains, but not really a lot more.  (At least if you are thinking of manufacturing in decent quantity.)

Injection molding is far faster and far cleaner.  If folks are worried factory shutdowns in China will kill the industry, dont be.  "Manufacturers" (I say in quotes because few of the train makers actually manufactur the products anymore) will find other factories and start the cycle again.  The most likely thing in the future is that details come in a package and you apply them yourself.  That is one of the few ways to save labor cost.  Much of the North American market dislikes that idea, so you will eventually have to pay more for your trains... that is just how it is.

Truth be told, many Chinese factories produce for train manufacturers at a loss to get the business and keep employees working.  That eventually catches up with the business and it folds.  It tends to happen every few years in China.  (I am in the industry... we see this all the time.)

The few manufacturers that actually produce products themselves are companies people should cherish a bit.  (Piko is the biggest I know, but Micro-Trains and smaller shops come to mind)  Those companies are likely going to cost a little bit more, but they have control of tooling so they do not have China factory closing issues.  These places are usually better at quality control as well.  And since the tooling isnt being shipped all over the world and damaged, the tooling will last longer and produce better models over the years.

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Posted by csxns on Friday, August 3, 2018 1:53 PM

riogrande5761
The truth is out there

That i have more trains that i know what to do with.

Russell

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Posted by Doughless on Friday, August 3, 2018 1:59 PM

riogrande5761

The truth is out there.  AlienLightningStorm

 

What does that mean?

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Posted by angelob6660 on Friday, August 3, 2018 2:20 PM

Doughless

 

 
riogrande5761

The truth is out there.  AlienLightningStorm

 

 

 

What does that mean?

 
ALIENS!! To come to our planet and destroy our wonderful hobby.

Modeling the G.N.O. Railway, The Diamond Route.

Amtrak America, 1971-Present.

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Posted by NittanyLion on Friday, August 3, 2018 2:30 PM

Doughless

 

 
tstage

 3D-quality will remain inferior to injection molding until they can improve the resolution.  While it has improved some over the years, it's still too grainy and rough for smooth exterior work.

There's also the time factor.  Once the metal molds are machined, injection molding is much quicker than 3D printing in churning out parts; the latter usually done one piece at a time.

And good injection molding also yields little-to-no flash.  IIRC, more intricate 3D printing requires some clean up work (with water) at the end of the process to remove the built-in support system.

Tom

 

 

 

Seems like we are a long ways off from not needing labor for assembly.  Even if 3D printing becomes economical for printing parts, those parts still need to be assembled.

Anyway, it doesn't sound like labor issues have created this specific closure.  Sounds more like a retirement issue.

 

Not necessarily. You can already make things with separate moving parts that require a modest amount of support removal. A slightly more mature piece of equipment should be able to automate the removal process. Freight cars, for instance, wouldn't require much more than shipping with couplers and trucks that the buyer attaches and "assembly" is basically removed from the equation. Packaging is the only part that a more mature 3D printer based business can't automate 

Resolution and finish quality is already just a matter of cost. There's machines out there that can get down to 25 micron (granted on a small print area). That's like 3/32nds of a inch in HO scale.

That stuff is still beyond the horizon as a consumer product, but I firmly believe that it is feasible. And I'm usually pretty skeptical about fantastic applications of cutting edge technology (like self driving cars. We don't even have self taxiing airliners yet and you could build one using 45 year old equipment. Makes my brow furrow that people think you can easily deploy a more complex system in a more complex environment, but that's for another time).

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Posted by gmpullman on Friday, August 3, 2018 2:37 PM

richhotrain
With Shinohara shutting down due to retirement, has anyone heard anything about a possible buyer?

Walthers sent out an email a few days ago...


 

Update from Walthers regarding Shinohara track:

Dear Walthers customers, 

We have some updated information regarding Walthers Code 83 Track to share with you. First, Shinohara is currently working to fulfill a large track order for us, and we expect that shipment of track to arrive later this summer. We will fill as many back orders as possible from that order, and then we will make the remaining track available for purchase. After fulfilling that order, Shinohara will cease track production. 

We would like to thank Shinohara for their many years of partnership with Walthers and service to the model train hobby. In addition (and with cooperation from Shinohara), we are already working with a new track supplier and will bring the Walthers code 83 track line back onto the market as soon as possible. We will share more details on this exciting new development in the future. Until then, thank you for your understanding and your support. 

Sincerely, 

Your friends at Walthers

Regards, Ed

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, August 3, 2018 5:01 PM

Thanks, Ed, for posting that notice from Walthers.

That is very good news because without an alternate supplier to the retiring Shinohara, there would be a huge hole in the specialty track market.

Rich

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Posted by Old Bus on Sunday, August 5, 2018 2:47 PM

Just to toss my 2 cents...hobbytown of Boston is still alive and kicking, 72 years old, and still made in the USA. 

For those who say it cannot be done here, it certainly can. 

We cannot box kits & parts fast enough.

Just sayin....

Nick

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Posted by emdmike on Sunday, August 5, 2018 4:55 PM

The upheavel due to enviromental issues or wage/cost of manufacturing has happend before.  In our hobby it was to the brass model industry in the 1970s and early 1980s.  The wages and cost of living in Japan rose very fast with massive inflation, and a fallout of the value of the American Doller vs the Japanese Yen.  Production moved to South Korea, then it happened again, most is still made there as the shrinkage of the market makes moving again and regaining the quality demanded by todays buyers mostly a non starter.  In time, maybe not quite yet, some production will return to the USA.  I would love to see all of it, but that is not going to happen in a global economy.  And its not going to happen overnight or as fast as it all left.  Lets hope that these companies can weather this newest storm.  Guessing that many new items are not going to arrive prior to the Christmas season this year.  I am glad to see China cleaning up thier act in reguards to polution and so forth.  I will gladly accept some delays in hobby product for that country to quit trashing the plant we all live on.     Mike the Aspie  

Silly NT's, I have Asperger's Syndrome

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, August 6, 2018 6:00 AM

csxns
 That i have more trains that i know what to do with.

That is true for me too; why I keep selling off trains.  Clown

 

 

Silly Aspie's, I have NT syndrome.

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Posted by sandusky on Monday, August 6, 2018 6:43 AM

BATMAN

 

 
SouthPenn
China is a communist country. The government owns everything.  

 

Sigh

 

 

Yeah.

 

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Posted by maxman on Monday, August 6, 2018 7:16 AM

angelob6660
ALIENS!! To come to our planet and destroy our wonderful hobby.

In space, no one can hear you scream.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, August 6, 2018 8:10 AM

maxman
 
angelob6660
ALIENS!! To come to our planet and destroy our wonderful hobby. 

In space, no one can hear you scream.

Trains .. in .. space !!

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by BigDaddy on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 8:24 PM

Ken Patterson talked about this on his latest youtube What's Neat video.  Add the new Arrowhead Models to those affected. 

Ken also proposes a coop factory located in the US.

Henry

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 9:44 PM

I had already heard AH was affected.  Did Ken address how labor costs at a US factory would drive up model prices beyond what most could tolerate, which is not very neat.  At least that is Jason of Rapido assessment of what would happen number wise, expect model prices to double or more in an example he gave.

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Posted by azrail on Wednesday, August 8, 2018 2:30 PM

There are places in the US that have lower costs to make things, such as Indian reservations and rural America

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Posted by csmincemoyer on Wednesday, August 8, 2018 2:44 PM
Rapido and Bowser (if I remember correctly) have made statements about the prohibitive cost of THEM using North American manufacturing. I had always read that to mean they would open individual factories for their respective product lines. This is in fact what Rapido is doing in China. What strikes me as most interesting about the AFFA closure is how many manufacturers used them. If an entrepreneur in North America took advantage of the different tax incentives, etc....could they make a go of it by producing for different manufacturers? Kadee, Accurail and others are making it work......
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Posted by NittanyLion on Wednesday, August 8, 2018 4:07 PM

azrail

There are places in the US that have lower costs to make things, such as Indian reservations and rural America

 

I don't know how labor costs work under the various regulators you'd see using Native American labor on reservations, but I do know that rural labor isn't going to save much, if anything.  If it did, you'd have seen a wave of decamping manufacturing in every industry propping up small towns everywhere before moving overseas, and that never happened. Rural America actually got hammered into the ground worse than the cities did during deindustrialization.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, August 8, 2018 6:32 PM

Ken's theory was patriotism.  No one objects to buying American, the problem is when the sticker shock hits.  There is just no way that you can pay US workers $3/hr.  

West Virginia could certainly use some new factories.  That's not where companies are building their factories.  

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

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