3D Printer for under $500.




Here is a link to a 3D printer being offered for less than $500.  Reading through it I ran across the the statement that they charge your credit card to reserve your place in line to receive the product.  A way to raise funds for production?  I don't know.  I guess I am not that trusting anymore.  What do you all think?


Jurgen Kleylein's picture

You get what you pay for?

I was looking at the results of a professional rapid prototype production over the weekend and I'd say it was a little less than satisfactory compared to what you can achieve with resin casting or certainly injection molding.  This would be a multi-thousand dollar machine.  You can decide for yourself if this $500 device is likely to be able to do better.


HO Deutsche Bundesbahn circa 1970

Visit the HO Sudbury Division at www.wrmrc.ca

The preceding message may not conform to NMRA recommended practices.

LKandO's picture

The Day is Coming

Industrial machinery is engineered and priced to perform to higher reliability, reproducibility, up-time, and other important commercial factors than is consumer equipment. Still, with that said, the day of do-it-yourself 3D printers suitable for the scales we work in isn't here... yet.

But it is coming fast! The advancements and price reduction of just the past 2 years shows it is coming. Who knows, a few short years from now you may tell Siri what you want and your iPhone will direct the $199 made in [insert low cost labor country of choice] printer to make etched brass precision plastic items.

The machine in the OP uses a .35mm nozzle. Imagine what will be possible when they have .035mm nozzles.


All the details: www.LKOrailroad.com        Just the highlights: MRH blog

When I was a kid... no wait, I still do that. HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, RailPro

TimWarris's picture

The end of manufacturing.

I often see 3D printing touted in the modeling world as a panacea, the be all end all for modelers.  And while at the moment they aren't, the quality of items printed in 3D with services such as Shapeways, is well, awful, I suspect in time this will improve.

I tend to look at 3D printing from a wider perspective, and frankly, if is frightening.  Compare a 3D printer to the golden goose.  Once there is a golden goose, gold has no value.  The same thing is true with a machine that can be used to simply create a product we want.  The implications for all of manufacturing is huge.  I suspect eliminating manufacturers from the product making process could be looked at as no big deal, similar to removing record companies from the music business.  However, doing so in a small industry such as model railroading will have the result of losing companies with the resources to bring the big products to market, as a lot of the time, its the smaller products that allow them to do so, and its the smaller products that 3D printing will replace.

Shapeways, I believe, is a glimpse of how 3D printing will impact the hobby.  Instead of manufactures, we will use Shapeways to acquire what we want, using designs produced by other modelers.  Its a brilliant business model, but one that will result in only a couple producers making everything and anything we want.

I have no idea how it will all play out, but in my opinion, I see 3D printing as the biggest disruptive technology to come along since the beginning of the industrial revolution.


Tim Warris

skiloff's picture

One door closes, a new door opens

Like anything, we all need to adapt as the world changes. If 3D printing gets to the stage where you just fire off a CAD file and have your fancy, detailed model printed and sent to you, does that mean model railroad manufacturers will go out of business? Those that don't adapt likely will.

But doesn't this open the door for them to create less expensive products in their basement and sell them to those that don't understand or have the inclination to develop their own or buy their own 3D printer? What about simply having engineers that will do custom development of CAD drawings for people who purchase those and send them off to someone like Shapeways? Savvy modellers with CAD experience and a lot of patience may build all their own stuff, but that still will take a lot of time.

And as for putting the smaller guys out of business, I would suggest it could actually open the door for MORE small guys to develop very specialized items and do their own printing or contract to Shapeways to do the printing for them. I guess I'm a firm believer that people's ingenuity will always find ways to make the best of a given situation. The only doom and gloom is for those who don't want to or refuse to change.


HO Scale '70s/80s era

kcsphil1's picture

I sort of agree, Tim

And with your clout as both a manufacturer and an outstanding modeler, I take your warning seriously.

That said, I view the disruptiveness of RPP (Rapid Prototype Printing) as the thing we need to overcome staid business practices in the "larger manufacturers."  Case in point - N scale has no properly tooled SW1500, a mainstay on nearly every railroad in the U.S. since the early 1970's.  HO has a ton of choices, and most of them have had  improved tooling and thus improved prototype fidelity over the years.  But not one correctly tooled in N scale.


So if the big boys (Atlas, Athearn, Walthers) won't do, and the medium sized ones (Intermountain, FVM, etc) won't do it,and someone in shapeways will (or MAr4Designs, et al), then I'm buying.  And that fact alone might just force the big companies to, oh I don't know, expand their product lines, recognize N scale for the robust modeling group it is, and sell us what we are willing to buy.

Disruptive - you bet, and if it gets me a modern , diesel modeler's staple like the SW1500, I'm ok with that.

Philip H. Chief Everything Officer Baton Rouge Southern Railroad, Mount Rainier Div.

Already there

But In solid nickel silver to match NS rail, accuracy and resolution better than 0.001", no jagged curves where it shows, and at a fair price.

Of course this is a carefully designed 21st Century engineering solution of applying the right High Technology to the problem of 3D printing not being ready for this yet. But hey, it works like a dream now, and we churn out frogs like this in 10 sizes, (4-10) four rail codes 40-83), 3  scales (HO, N, Z) and a growing range of 5 types so far (bent rail, manganese, self-guarding, paved street/yards and trolley).





Jurgen Kleylein's picture

Replicators are not on the drawing board yet

Tim, I can see your line of reasoning, and some of it may be very valid.  It should, however, be pointed out that personal printers did not destroy publishing, and mail order did not destroy shopping, so it may be premature to infer that 3-D printers will bring about the end of manufacturing.  Some things are simply too complicated to hope to produce on a printer, and there will be the time required and a source of data files, raw material, etc., which will make it a specialty, and many will find it easier to obtain a finished product elsewhere rather than waiting for their machine at home to crank it out.

A lot of Star Trek technology is sort of starting to appear, but it never works quite as well or as simply as it does on TV.  There's more to producing a model than talking into a control panel and saying "make me a locomotive."  I'm pretty sure replicators will remain science fiction for a while yet.


HO Deutsche Bundesbahn circa 1970

Visit the HO Sudbury Division at www.wrmrc.ca

The preceding message may not conform to NMRA recommended practices.

Married to the old ways...

You can say all you want about some things being 'too difficult' for something new like this to reproduce.  And yet, I see it coming, and coming VERY soon!

Look at how the laser cutters have carved up the model building industry - if you market a "craftsman" kit now, it had better include lasercut sides, windows and trim!!!

It's only a matter of time.  And not decades, maybe a DECADE!

Not so good for small scales

1mm resolution in the horizontal plane will not really cut it for fine detailed parts in the smaller scales.


N scale, DCC-NCE, Switching, Operations

JRG1951's picture

I'm Holding Out


I'm holding out for a $500.00 Holi-Deck. Then I can run a simulated Ho scale railroad in a 500 X 500 foot layout room with all my favorite engines. I will never again be constrained by time, budget, era, or poor design. The computer will fix all my problems. I can then float around on my automated couch until I bump into Wall-E.

No more building kits. wiring the tracks, using my skills to create scenes. Or creating cool locomotives. Mmmmm! On second thought maybe the challenges are where the real fun is.




The most likely way for the world to be destroyed, most experts agree, is by accident. That's where we come in;
we're computer professionals. We cause accidents. >> Nathaniel Borenstein

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