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3D Printed HO scale buildings

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3D Printed HO scale buildings
Posted by NorthsideChi on Friday, July 2, 2021 12:38 AM

Hey everyone,

Thought I'd share some of my HO scale building models.  I have about 150 completed kit built structures but purchased a 3d printer in 2019 and have been building much larger custom structures.  I currently don't have any layout benchwork set up for my downtown scene.  Instead panels with city blocks or long track sections that connect through conductive contacts that will eventually be arranged.  The towers shown are independent of the panels due to their size.  The whole assembly will be built in the basement of my Chicago condo building which I've been using as a wood and metal shop for a few years.  The models below are incomplete.  I'm still adding crown elements and 3d printing the interiors and need to intall lighting.  I'll share additional photos as more portions are completed.

There will be "spires" on top of the parapet wall to hide the lighting

Still need to put covers over the red lights

 

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Posted by hornblower on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 12:05 PM

Beautiful work!  Puts my scratch building efforts to shame and I though I was pretty good at it!  Maybe its time to look into a 3D printer of my own.

Hornblower

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 12:08 PM

Welcome to the Model Railroader magazine discussion forums. We are glad you have found us. Your first few posts will be delayed by moderation, but this will ends soon enough, usually after just a few posts. Please stick around through the delays and become part of the crowd.

Thank you for sharing the pictures of your buildings, and...

WOW!

Great work.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by mrrdad on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 7:40 PM

That looks fantastic!

Welcome to the forum. Thank you for sharing your work with us. What 3d printer did you use? Also, did you 3d print the windows as well?

 

Thanks,

Ed

Semi newbie HO scale modeler coming from the O scale world

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Posted by NVSRR on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 7:55 PM

How come I dont see the links, yet obviously others did?

 

SHane

A pessimist sees a dark tunnel

An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel

A realist sees a frieght train

An engineer sees three idiots standing on the tracks stairing blankly in space

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Posted by York1 on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 8:16 PM

NorthsideChi
Thought I'd share some of my HO scale building models. 

 

Welcome to the forum.

Your work is amazing!  I can't wait to see more of your projects.  Be sure to keep us up-to-date with your progress.

My kids say they want a cat for Christmas.  Normally I do a turkey but hey, if it'll make 'em happy ...

York1 John       

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 8:45 PM

Hi NorthsideChi,

Welcome to the forums!!     Welcome

Okay, my first response was to throw up my hands and quit the hobby!! Not!Smile, Wink & GrinLaughLaugh

WOW doesn't even start to describe my impression of your building skills! BowThumbs Up The fact that they are 3D printed is irrelevent.

May I ask a couple of questions?

Have you painted the buildings or have you printed the individual pieces in their respective colours?

Are you glazing the windows, and if so, how are you doing that? There are so many windows that the task of glazing each one individually boggles my mind!

Please show us your other work!

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by NorthsideChi on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 11:05 PM

Thanks everyone for the nice comments!  To answer a few on the process.

I first model everything using Google Sketchup.  I used the free version from 2017 since it requires an install to export the filetypes to send to the 3d printer.  That older version is still on their website.

The 3d printer is a Prusa MK3s.  I had decided on this printer after reading tons of reviews.  After about 2 miles of filament deposition and continuous operation, I have to say this has been a very reliable and accurate 3d printer.  I recommend the kit version of it.  It's fun to assemble and the instructions are easy to follow and in case anything goes wrong, it's really easy to trouble shoot since you know how it was put together.

I usually use gray filament for the walls.  The printer volume is something like 8.5 x 7.5 x 9 inches so this tower was built in 7 sections that stack and lock together.  It's then spraypainted with a base coat that's concrete or stone colored to capture the sills and cornice pieces, and then I repaint the bricks or selected accents with the model master acrylic paints (which appear to be discontinued now) but any hobby paint will do.  I use PLA (polylactic acid) for printer feedstock.  It will accept all paint types without any issues.  It will NOT accept any solvent glues.  But super glue works amazingly.  

The thin window frames I used black filament in this case...unpainted.  It seemed to look fine that way, and I was happy with the crispness of the mullions.  Adding paint might have made them thicker.  I glue clear vinyl sheets on the back of them I picked up at the art supply store.  And yes, it took forever....weeks actually...to get them glued.  

There's a smaller second version of this tower.  It's rejected components where I had changed the design a bit.  I didn't feel like throwing them out, so I built a 2nd tower for a friend which I'll show later.  It actually looks fine, but it's really not that hard to make the printer run off another section.

I still build plenty of building models by hand, but where the 3d printer really helps out is making interiors.  Since my models are illuminated, I try to populate the insides with basic stuff.  A 3d printer can run off dozens of desks, chairs and tables in an hour for just a couple pennies in cost.

Below is an example of the “guts” of the art deco tower at the top of the crown.  It's slides into the shell of the building and clips into place.  I've built it to accomodate more lights in the future (I use woodland scenics just plug lights)

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Posted by mthobbies on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 7:54 AM

Wow! I'm so impressed with the size of the buildings! I need to know the details because I've been 3D printing some of my own buildings as well.

How many different pieces are there? These must take weeks to print! They're massive! How do you design them without pulling your hair out lol. There are so many details and shapes. What CAD software do you use? 

More importantly, how do you design the brick detail into the walls? I've been using Autodesk Inventor to make my buildings, but modeling the individual bricks has me baffled.

 

mrrdad

What 3d printer did you use? Also, did you 3d print the windows as well?

 

Thanks,

Ed

 

I'd also like to know what printer you're using. I have a Wanhao Duplicator 5S which has a pretty big build volume.

Ed, it looks like the windows are separate; they're probably Tichy.

 

Matt

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Posted by Jumijo on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 9:42 AM

Your buildings are incredible! I'd love to see more photos. Just amazing!

Modeling the Baltimore waterfront in HO scale

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 10:09 AM

Fantastic work.  You are going to need a big layout to go with the size of the building.

NVSRR
How come I dont see the links, yet obviously others did?

SHane

Don't know.  I usually can't see even a broken picture icon in Firefox if someone isn't following the picture posting guidelines.  His picks are on umich.edu site.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

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Posted by mthobbies on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 10:33 AM

I can see his pics. Not sure why you guys can't...

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Posted by rrebell on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 10:54 AM

Those look great, can we get a real closeup of a part of the building. I asume that the lines from 3D prinying are not an issue because of distance on your layout to the building. Wonder what you could do with the resin machines that were called emulsion printers when they first came out (do not have a clue what they are called now).

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Posted by mthobbies on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 10:58 AM

NorthsideChi would you be willing to post your designs on Thingiverse?

If you're not comfortable sharing the entire buildings, how about just the windows, interior furntature, and other generic pieces? A lot of the pieces you designed could be useful to other modelers who are scratchbuilding.

Thanks,

Matt

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Posted by HO-Velo on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 11:35 AM

NorthsideChi, Whoa, that's a building!

thanks & regards,  Peter

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Posted by NorthsideChi on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 3:02 PM

Sorry about this issues with the photos.  The file storage website has literally looked the same for about 18 years now and I think some browsers may not accept the www- instead of www. prefix. It seems to work okay with chrome and safari. I also made sure to size them down in photoshop.  

As far as the model files go, Admittedly I'm still a novice when it comes to the quality.  The bricks are actually modeled with the mortar joints recessed. My printer can do a remarkable 0.05 mm resolution but it would take forever to print.  I used 0.15 mm resolution which was the most I could do before it started to get muddy. Each module took 100 hours to print.  While that seems long, I would just leave the printer running in the basement and come back in a few days to check on it.  After 1 section is done, I could then paint it while the next section prints.   The printer and software uses AI to correct mistakes, so it would fix any errors I made on its own, but that may not work with other printers.  

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Posted by "JaBear" on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 3:31 PM
Wot can I say??!!! BowBow
Thanks for sharing.

Cheers, the Bear. Smile

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by NorthsideChi on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 9:23 PM

BigDaddy

Fantastic work.  You are going to need a big layout to go with the size of the building.

Fortunately I have a whole basement of a large building to work with.  But I'll build it in such a way that it can be dismantled and stored easily in the event I move someday.  Right now I have a 3-track oval 12' x 4' test bench that I use to lay out existing projects.  

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Posted by mthobbies on Thursday, July 8, 2021 7:40 AM

NorthsideChi

The bricks are actually modeled with the mortar joints recessed. 

I've never used Google Sketchup. Do you have to draw every single brick??? Or is there some kind of bump map that gets applied to all selected surfaces?

I'm trying to 3D print some brick buildings of my own, but I can't figure out an efficient way to model the thousands of bricks easily with my CAD software. I'd love to know how you modeled all those bricks into your 3D model.

Thanks,

Matt

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Posted by NorthsideChi on Thursday, July 8, 2021 1:22 PM

mthobbies

 

 
NorthsideChi

The bricks are actually modeled with the mortar joints recessed. 

 

 

I've never used Google Sketchup. Do you have to draw every single brick??? Or is there some kind of bump map that gets applied to all selected surfaces?

I'm trying to 3D print some brick buildings of my own, but I can't figure out an efficient way to model the thousands of bricks easily with my CAD software. I'd love to know how you modeled all those bricks into your 3D model.

Thanks,

Matt

 

The bricks are modeled. I wish a bump map would work that way, but not in the case with sketchup.  Fortunately I only had to model maybe a couple dozen single bricks.  I then copy and pasted them into one story modules:  outside corner, inside corner, window wall piece, etc.  I then made those grouped components and then just stacked them up like lego blocks.  My printer slicer software didn't seem to care that the sketchup groups were unjoined as long as they were close enough.  

The entire tower was modeled in sketchup in about a week because it's mostly copy and pasted elements. 

The most difficult part was modeling some of the more technical elements, like the locking components that join the modules together or wire chases and lighting mounts. I had to design the tower to be serviced in the event I want to add more lights or in the unlikely instance lights need replacement.  It can also be easily stored away in a smaller container.  

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Posted by Jumijo on Thursday, July 8, 2021 6:09 PM

NorthsideChi, I don't get impressed very often, but you have greatly impressed me with these structures. 

Modeling the Baltimore waterfront in HO scale

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Posted by ChrisVA on Friday, July 9, 2021 6:18 AM

This is really amazing. I think 3D printing will have a huge impact on the hobby.  It's a natural fit.  Great work!

 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, July 9, 2021 2:44 PM

Very impressive! Bow

 

Wayne

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Posted by crossthedog on Friday, July 9, 2021 5:15 PM

Hi NorthsideChi and welcome to the forums,

Stunning work! I'm kind of in disbelief as I look at these structures.

It's funny, your two buildings remind me (in their basic aspects) of two of my favorite old buildings here in Seattle, the Northern Life Tower and the Telephone Building, which happen to stand right next to each other.

The Northern Life Tower (left) has the steps or "setbacks" that your tower has, and the Telephone Building has the arched windows, wide cornice and the brick middle over a stone first level that your second building has. (Interestingly, the tower was designed to recall the mountains that surround the city on its horizons, to the extent that increasingly lighter bricks were used toward the top to make the building look as if it were a peak disappearing into mist. And the Telephone Building started out as a shorter building, with only 6 brick floors and no arches at the top.)  If these two stalwarts were ever made available in HO, I would be forced to scrap everything I'm doing and switch to modelling downtown Seattle. 

Which leads me to ask, are these models of real Chi-town buildings?

-Matt

 

 

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by OldEngineman on Friday, July 9, 2021 10:01 PM

The buildings look great.

When are you going to start on a replica of the Chrysler building...?  Cool

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Posted by Little Timmy on Sunday, July 11, 2021 1:10 AM

WOW !!!!!!!

I mean, .. just ...

WOW !!!!

Rust...... It's a good thing !

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Posted by NorthsideChi on Sunday, July 11, 2021 11:42 AM

crossthedog

Hi NorthsideChi and welcome to the forums,

Stunning work! I'm kind of in disbelief as I look at these structures.

It's funny, your two buildings remind me (in their basic aspects) of two of my favorite old buildings here in Seattle, the Northern Life Tower and the Telephone Building, which happen to stand right next to each other.

The Northern Life Tower (left) has the steps or "setbacks" that your tower has, and the Telephone Building has the arched windows, wide cornice and the brick middle over a stone first level that your second building has. (Interestingly, the tower was designed to recall the mountains that surround the city on its horizons, to the extent that increasingly lighter bricks were used toward the top to make the building look as if it were a peak disappearing into mist. And the Telephone Building started out as a shorter building, with only 6 brick floors and no arches at the top.)  If these two stalwarts were ever made available in HO, I would be forced to scrap everything I'm doing and switch to modelling downtown Seattle. 

Which leads me to ask, are these models of real Chi-town buildings?

-Matt

 

 

 

thank you!   The building with the arches is real. It's the Detroit Life building.  The Art Deco tower is loosely modeled after the David Stott tower, also in Detroit.   As far as Chicago buildings, I plan to model my city's two and three flat brick and graystone architecture.  I will also model one of Chicago's bascule bridges since I can't seem to find kit models for roadway lift bridges, only rail.  Walthers makes a single rail bascule and CMR makes a vertical lift.  I've purchased and assembled 5 cmr towers and have 3D printed and lit interiors for those also.  

When I complete the print files for the residential buildings, I'd be happy to share them with you all.  I wouldn't recommend taking them to your local library to print as I know some people have done because each building would still take 24 hours to print.  But if you have your own, you could have a whole city block in just over a week.  

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Posted by NorthsideChi on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 11:07 PM

Hey everyone.  It's been slow moving on the tower with a busy summer, but I have the crown lights working and interiors complete on the first and upper floors.  Next step should be printing the interiors and adding inside lights to the "trunk" but that should be the easist part in the final stretch

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, August 4, 2021 6:11 AM

NorthsideChi
 
crossthedog

Which leads me to ask, are these models of real Chi-town buildings?

-Matt 

As far as Chicago buildings, I plan to model my city's two and three flat brick and graystone architecture.  I will also model one of Chicago's bascule bridges since I can't seem to find kit models for roadway lift bridges, only rail.  Walthers makes a single rail bascule and CMR makes a vertical lift.  

I am still looking for the right words to describe your work. Absolutely gorgeous buildings.

You mention the Walthers single rail bascule bridge. I have three of them side-by side. I often wonder how difficult, or easy, it would be to kitbash two kits into a double track bascule bridge like the ones at 16th Street in Chicago.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by mthobbies on Wednesday, August 4, 2021 8:59 AM

NorthsideChi, thanks for the update! I'm glad this thread is revived. The lighting looks so natural! Perfect color and your window glazing doesn't show a hint of glue! I'm impressed.

I am still amazed that your 3D printer can produce such fine lines for the window panes. What diameter nozzle are you using on your printer? Mine is 0.4mm and I could never get such crisp detail. Great work man.

-Matt

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