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3D printing - scale stage elements...?


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I'm going to dip my toe into the world of 3D printing after a friend loaned me one of his smaller printers to have a play with. This is something I've never done up til now, though have pondered it in the past. 

And to be fair, I;ll probably start with pre-set stl models rather than leap into trying to design my own (which may well be past my ageing brainpower these days 😄 ) so will be looking for some suitable/useful options to kick that off.

One area that he and I have talked on in the past has been staging for my scale stage model that I've used for some years - like I guess many others, I've used balsa and occasionally card to design and test practicalities for some of the sets I've built and it seemed that it could well be an idea to 3D print some of those as building blocks.

So the question - does anyone have suitable STL files they'd be happy to send me for things like LiteDeck to start with? 
Or anything else that could be a useful addition to a stock of printable stuff?

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is sketchup warehouse still a thing,used to loads of usefull models on there,and its fairly painless,or used to be to convert to stl.


rather than leap into trying to design my own (which may well be past my ageing brainpower these days

Take a look at onshape,the interface looks daunting at first,but soon found it fairly painless  with the help of a few youtube videos .

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Just a practicality note - it’s often better to create your models from scratch than take others and scale them. For example someone might have a perfect model of some steel deck with correct wall thickness steel tube for all the bracing and legs. At many print scales that might be fine but when you shrink it down to print at the scale you’re using those walls will be thinner than the printer can print…. So will fail. 

doing your own parts / models means you know what level of detail you actually need to use and will result in more, easier, reliable model prints. 

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If you're fancying a go at some very straightforward design work, I can wholeheartedly recommend Tinkercad. Very straightforward to use. If you can drive microsoft paint then you can drive tinkercad. Tonnes of tutorials too, not that you really need them once you grasp the idea of grouping shapes, converting to holes, then grouping that hole in to another shape to take a chunk out of it. If you're used to engineering drawings at all then switch off perspective view first thing every time (left hand side, half way down ish). It's web based as well, so you can work from anywhere. Completely free. 

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For simple shapes I like SCAD, it's a bit different to the others because you define the object mathematically (i.e. I'll have a cuboid size xyz then cut out a cylinder radius r height h).

if you have a mathematical or computing background it's quick to use. It's not very good for organic shapes or curvy things. But objects with a lot of repeated similar shapes are easy because you just put a loop in to create the elements.

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I'm of an age where I learned my technical drawing and design skills with a drawing board and T-Square. There is a big shift in mindset required to use modern 3d design software. My original learning was to use lines, circles, triangles, rectangles etc as the elements to construct the needed item. With 3d design software the design elements to build your 'thing' are spheres, cylinders, cones, cuboids and so on. Once I got my head past that, progress was quicker. Being able to view your design from any angle in 3d is great.

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