With the now almost normal view of 3D printers being the salvation of all. Buy a printer, unpack it....and print whatever you want! Not quite!!
To give an idea of what's involved in the process, I thought I'd detail the design and printing of a medium sized model. The Forth bridge is a bit on the big side...and is taking a long time to do, so I need something smaller.
(aka Dave) announced that he was going to build a layout featuring the Ribblehead viaduct, i offered to help by designing and printing an accurate and detailed model of the viaduct..which he accepted. A perfect example to run through the processes involved....so here goes!
Firstly, for those who are not familiar with Ribblehead, hers' a photo I lifted from the web:
The viaduct is 400m long and 32m high at its highest, and consists of 24 almost identical arches each of length 14m. The arches are grouped into four sets of six arches, and the intersection between each set of six having a thicker column. Reasonably straight forward....but not quite. The viaduct is curved! So the first stage in the design was to consult Google Earth to find out the curvature....
Here's a satelite view:
Using this image, I decided to make an assumption....the viaduct is a constant radius, so I worked out the radius of the "curve" and it's angle. I've lost the actual figures...and can't remember the radius (it was huge!!), but the angle of the curve for the whole viaduct is 16 degrees.
From all of the above data, I made a very rough mock-up of the viaduct in my 3D package so I could get an idea if the figures I had were good......and to send an image to Dave so he could see what he'd let himself in for! Here's the mock-up:
As I was designing this remotely, and the fact I had some gash printing filament going spare, I printed off a low resolution ( print layer thickness of 0,25mm) copy of the viaduct and sent it to Dave so he could check it wasn't going to be the wrong size, etc for the layout he had in mind. I didn't take any photos so can't post one.