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             Rating                           3D Printed Track and Turnouts
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641st message | this message only posted: 5 Aug 2018 13:03
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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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FraserSmith wrote: I have just tried importing a 3D DXF file from Templot into AutoCAD to produce an STL file. It would appear that AutoCAD will only produce an STL file from a solid or an enclosing mesh. The default mesh forms available are exactly as their solids. It does not seem possible to use 3D faces in AutoCAD to produce an STL file and that is quite disappointing for me as I might have had a go at making a bit of track base. Andrew, what CAD programs have you tried that will use the 3D faces to make solids?Hi Fraser, Andy,

Please disregard the 3D DXFs produced by the current version of Templot. I wrote the code for that 20 years ago, before the days of Shapeways or home 3D printing. I have barely looked at the code since then.

I have now. It should be much improved in the next program update, although that won't be for a while because there is still a lot to do.

The present situation with STL files and TurboCAD is clear as mud, at least to me.

IF, big IF, I export the DXF from Templot in mm units, Slice3r (thanks for the link) is happy with the resulting saved STL, and reports it successfully sliced. However, TurboCAD despite having mm units set in the options, appears to be loading the mm DXF in inches. Consequently the saved STL is 25.4 times too big, and it's not surprising Slice3r finds it easy to slice.

However, if I export the DXF in inches, which seems to be the only option TurboCAD is happy with, the resulting saved STL file is actual model size. Slice3r then reports "no layers found" in the STL.

Clearly I need to change some settings in Slic3r. Over to Andy.

Here attached is a current 3D DXF file, and the STL to follow:



You might like to try them in your CAD program.

cheers,

Martin.

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Attachment: test_3d_printing_18_08_05_1326_41_mm.dxf (Downloaded 9 times)
 
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642nd message | this message only posted: 5 Aug 2018 13:06
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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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And here's the STL.

Note that if you open the STL in TurboCAD, the rectangles from the DXF have all been split along a diagonal into triangles. I find that makes the wireframe view very confusing.

I think this STL is actually 25.4 times too big. It started life in EM gauge (4mm/ft).

Martin.

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Attachment: test_3d_printing_18_08_05_1326_41_mm.stl (Downloaded 8 times)
 
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643rd message | this message only posted: 5 Aug 2018 13:37
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Martin Wynne
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Martin Wynne wrote: I think this STL is actually 25.4 times too big. It started life in EM gauge (4mm/ft).This getting silly. :?

Every single program I have tried with this STL tells me that the timbers are 34.0 long. Correct.

But not one of them will tell me whether that is in mm, inches, chains, miles, or whatever. And there is no way to set it in the Save STL dialog.

DXF files don't contain any units information, but in that case you have the option in the load dialog to say what they are. Templot additionally puts "mm" or "in" in the file name as a reminder.

But STL files don't appear to contain any such options.

So that STL might be the correct size. Or it might not.

Martin.

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Martin Wynne
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p.s. Fraser,

if your CAD program won't do it, here is a route from Templot DXF to STL using free programs:

 http://85a.co.uk/forum/view_topic.php?id=2734&forum_id=6&page=15#p25268

cheers,

Martin.

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645th message | this message only posted: 5 Aug 2018 18:28
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FraserSmith wrote: Hi Andy and Martin

I have just tried importing a 3D DXF file from Templot into AutoCAD to produce an STL file. It would appear that AutoCAD will only produce an STL file from a solid or an enclosing mesh. The default mesh forms available are exactly as their solids. It does not seem possible to use 3D faces in AutoCAD to produce an STL file and that is quite disappointing for me as I might have had a go at making a bit of track base. Andrew, what CAD programs have you tried that will use the 3D faces to make solids?

Fraser
Hi Fraser,

I either use TurboCAD Pro or TurboCAD Deluxe. Pro uses solid models. Deluxe uses surface models.

Until now my track models have only used a two-dimensional DXF import from Templot. I turn off just about everything except the timber outlines, timber center-lines, rail gauge face lines and some of the marks.

Now to find out what's going on with Martin's DXF and Slic3r.

Cheers,
Andy

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646th message | this message only posted: 5 Aug 2018 19:21
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Martin Wynne wrote: Martin Wynne wrote: I think this STL is actually 25.4 times too big. It started life in EM gauge (4mm/ft).This getting silly. :?

Every single program I have tried with this STL tells me that the timbers are 34.0 long. Correct.

But not one of them will tell me whether that is in mm, inches, chains, miles, or whatever. And there is no way to set it in the Save STL dialog.

DXF files don't contain any units information, but in that case you have the option in the load dialog to say what they are. Templot additionally puts "mm" or "in" in the file name as a reminder.

But STL files don't appear to contain any such options.

So that STL might be the correct size. Or it might not.

Martin.
Hi Martin,

I imported the DXF into TC Deluxe with "CONVERT UNITS" deselected and the dimensions are correct in TC.

Saved it as a STL and loaded it into Slic3r. It complained that there are 1532 errors.

I then loaded the STL into Repetier Host. That's the program that drives my 3D printer. This is how it looks in Repetier Host.



On the right it is complaining that the object is not manifold - in other words, if it was filled with water it would leak, but it gives an option to repair it, which I did.



Then I ran it through the slicer (it's Slic3r running as an extension of Repetier Host). It slices without problems. This is what the printed model would look like on my printer with its current settings.



Sometimes when I create STL files in TC they are not manifold but if it's a small number of "holes" I tend not to worry about it and just let the printer software do the repair. Shapeways doesn't seem to mind either. Meshlab should let you see where the problems are if you really want to know.

Cheers,
Andy

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Andrew Barrowman wrote:
  Meshlab should let you see where the problems are if you really want to know.

Or maybe not. I just plugged it into Meshlab and it doesn't seem to find any problems. Mind you, Meshalb is wickedly complicated and I have not used it for a while.

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648th message | this message only posted: 5 Aug 2018 19:35
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or maybe that's because Repetier Host fixed the file!

Nope. The original STL looks OK in Meshlab.

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649th message | this message only posted: 5 Aug 2018 21:03
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Hi Martin,

Meshlab is finding holes in the model.

Import the STL then

Edit, Fill Hole (You should see a list of holes)

Now - Filters, Remeshing etc, Close Holes - and apply the fixes.

Now back to Edit, Fill Hole - and it will tell you there are no holes now.

Hope that helps.

Cheers,
Andy
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650th message | this message only posted: 5 Aug 2018 21:18
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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Andrew Barrowman wrote:I imported the DXF into TC Deluxe with "CONVERT UNITS" deselected and the dimensions are correct in TC.

Saved it as a STL and loaded it into Slic3r. It complained that there are 1532 errors.
Hi Andy,

Thanks.

"CONVERT UNITS" deselected -- where be that? I found Options > Space Units... > Metric which does the job, but it is available only after loading a file, and has to be re-set every time. TC Deluxe 20.2 -- are we talking about the same program?

How can we find if the 1532 errors are caused by the STL conversion, or in the original DXF?

I tried a different route to an STL -- 3D Crafter + MeshLab. Slicer now says it auto-repaired 6351 errors!



Interesting -- that is an odd number, bearing in mind there are 2 identical objects in the file?

cheers,

Martin.

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Martin Wynne
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Andrew Barrowman wrote: Import the STL then

Edit, Fill Hole (You should see a list of holes)

Now - Filters, Remeshing etc, Close Holes - and apply the fixes.

Now back to Edit, Fill Hole - and it will tell you there are no holes now.
Hi Andy,

Thanks, but bad news -- my version of MeshLab doesn't have that function, see:

 https://github.com/cnr-isti-vclab/meshlab/issues/227

:(

Martin.

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Martin Wynne wrote: Andrew Barrowman wrote:I imported the DXF into TC Deluxe with "CONVERT UNITS" deselected and the dimensions are correct in TC.

Saved it as a STL and loaded it into Slic3r. It complained that there are 1532 errors.
Hi Andy,

Thanks.

"CONVERT UNITS" deselected -- where be that? I found Options > Space Units... > Metric which does the job, but it is available only after loading a file, and has to be re-set every time. TC Deluxe 20.2 -- are we talking about the same program?

How can we find if the 1532 errors are caused by the STL conversion, or in the original DXF?

I tried a different route to an STL -- 3D Crafter + MeshLab. Slicer now says it auto-repaired 6351 errors!



Interesting -- that is an odd number, bearing in mind there are 2 identical objects in the file?

cheers,

Martin.
HI Martin,

It's on the right of the Insert File selection panel.

I think there might be holes in the DXF. Turbocad sometimes creates non-manifold edges and Meshlab exposes them, but that does not seem to be what's happening here. I'll try to get Meshalb or TC to expose the holes.

Cheers,
Andy

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653rd message | this message only posted: 5 Aug 2018 21:40
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Martin Wynne
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Andrew Barrowman wrote:
It's on the right of the Insert File selection panel.
Thanks.

But I'm not inserting a file, I'm opening one. That dialog isn't available until after the file is open. :?

cheers,

Martin.

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Andrew Barrowman wrote:I think there might be holes in the DXF.Hi Andy,

I will try putting an underside surface on the chairs, and see if it makes any difference.

You would think that Slicer would notice that they are fixed down watertight to the timber with 3 big screws!

Martin.

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Martin Wynne wrote: Andrew Barrowman wrote:
It's on the right of the Insert File selection panel.
Thanks.

But I'm not inserting a file, I'm opening one. That dialog isn't available until after the file is open. :?

cheers,

Martin.
Hi Martin,

Right. You open a new file (or an existing file) then you "Insert File" the DXF into it. At least that's what I always do. If you can't see where it put the DXF, use Edit, Select All.

BTW, you can get Meshlab to show you were the holes are. Edit, Fill Hole then select each hole and it will highlight it on the rendering. You might want to use a one bolt chair so you can magnify the view to the max.

Cheers,
Andy

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Martin Wynne
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Andrew Barrowman wrote:Right. You open a new file (or an existing file) then you "Insert File" the DXF into it. At least that's what I always do. If you can't see where it put the DXF, use Edit, Select All.Hi Andy,

But why on earth are you doing that?

I just do File > Open... (CTRL+O) and open the DXF file. Same as in any other software. Am I missing something?

BTW, you can get Meshlab to show you were the holes are. Edit, Fill HoleNo I can't -- see my previous post: :(

 https://github.com/cnr-isti-vclab/meshlab/issues/227

Martin.

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Martin Wynne wrote: Andrew Barrowman wrote:Right. You open a new file (or an existing file) then you "Insert File" the DXF into it. At least that's what I always do. If you can't see where it put the DXF, use Edit, Select All.Hi Andy,

But why on earth are you doing that?

I just do File > Open... (CTRL+O) and open the DXF file. Same as in any other software. Am I missing something?

BTW, you can get Meshlab to show you were the holes are. Edit, Fill HoleNo I can't -- see my previous post: :(

 https://github.com/cnr-isti-vclab/meshlab/issues/227

Martin.
Hi Martin,

I just use it that way because I'm usually importing a non-native DXF file into the native TC file format. I do any editing in native mode, save in native mode then also save as a STL or whatever. I've had problems editing in anything other than native file mode. Up to you of course.

I'm running Meshlab 1.3.3. Maybe you can get that version?

Cheers,
Andy

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Hi Martin,

One of the problems is the BOLTBOSS is not closed. Looking at it in TC, it doesn't seem to have a bottom. Haven't looked at any of the others.

Cheers,
Andy
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Andrew Barrowman wrote:I just use it that way because I'm usually importing a non-native DXF file into the native TC file format. I do any editing in native mode, save in native mode then also save as a STL or whatever. I've had problems editing in anything other than native file mode. Up to you of course.Hi Andy,

Let's not lose sight of the object of the exercise. Which is that Templot users should be able to export a file which can be used or sent for 3D printing. Without needing any CAD skills at all.

The only reason I'm using TurboCAD here is to convert the DXF to STL, not to edit or create anything natively in TurboCAD.

In an ideal world, Templot would export directly to STL. I see that STL has an ASCII-format option -- I've been looking at the files in Notepad++. I think with enough study of the docs I might be able to get there. But one thing at a time. Chairs in DXF first.  :)

cheers,

Martin.

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Andrew Barrowman wrote: One of the problems is the BOLTBOSS is not closed. Looking at it in TC, it doesn't seem to have a bottom. Haven't looked at any of the others.Hi Andy,

Thanks. Does it need to be? I assumed that if it's in contact with the top surface of the timber, that would seal it? This goes back to Fraser's explanation of hollow and solid objects.

I will make sure all objects are individually closed, without relying on assembling them together.

cheers,

Martin.

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Martin Wynne wrote: Andrew Barrowman wrote: One of the problems is the BOLTBOSS is not closed. Looking at it in TC, it doesn't seem to have a bottom. Haven't looked at any of the others.Hi Andy,

Thanks. Does it need to be? I assumed that if it's in contact with the top surface of the timber, that would seal it? This goes back to Fraser's explanation of hollow and solid objects.

I will make sure all objects are individually closed, without relying on assembling them together.

cheers,

Martin.
Hi Martin,

I'm no expert but I think they need to be closed otherwise you would have to stitch all the objects neatly together to form a continuous surface.

It seems to be OK to have closed objects that intersect one another. I'd have thought that would create problems too but it seems to work.

Re the DXF import, I don't mind at all if you can find a better way to do it.

Cheers,
Andy

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We now have some outer jaws on the S1 chairs. Gold-plated: :)



Notice the random key positions.

There should be a corner radius around the top of the jaw, but I think I'm going to draw a line at this. I've used as much of the REA drawing as seems reasonable. I'm hoping that the 3D printer will smooth out some of the sharp angles:



Now for the inner jaws, L1 chairs, slide chairs, slab & brackets ...

Martin.

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Martin Wynne wrote:
Now for the inner jaws,
Hi Martin,

Will you allow for model or real wheel flanges?

Cheers,
Andy

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Andrew Barrowman wrote:Will you allow for model or real wheel flanges?Hi Andy,

It's not me doing any allowing. :)

The dimensions will be whatever Templot users choose to enter, same as everything else in Templot.

I expect there will be some pre-sets available, for common situations.

P4 or RTR, etc. REA or GWR, etc.

There's a long way still to go.

cheers,

Martin.

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Hi Martin,

I've not looked at Train Simulator for a long time, but the last time I did the track representation wasn't very good. Maybe you could license them your models? (And watch they don't try to pinch 'em.)

Cheers,
Andy
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Andrew Barrowman wrote:I've not looked at Train Simulator for a long time, but the last time I did the track representation wasn't very good. Maybe you could license them your models? (And watch they don't try to pinch 'em.)Hi Andy,

The code will be open-source, so providing they comply with the licence they will be free to use it. That means publishing their own code as open source.

I did have some conversations with one of the train sims in the past, but they clearly had little understanding of prototype track. I don't really see how any of Templot could be used in a sim, and I doubt there would be much global interest in UK bullhead track. :(

cheers,

Martin.

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Sorry for the distractions. Now get back to work :)
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668th message | this message only posted: 7 Aug 2018 04:08
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from:
Andrew Barrowman
USA

 

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Martin Wynne wrote:
I expect there will be some pre-sets available, for common situations.
Hi Martin,

A wee bit concerned that the current limitations of 3D printing might lead to disappointment when it comes to converting your wonderful models into scaled physical representations of the real thing. My chairs are really caricatures (caricatchairs?) of the real thing rather than scale models.

I've focused on 0.013 scale and, depending on the particular printing process, I've found it necessary to accentuate the finer details to prevent them disappearing completely, even with the highest resolution printing processes available today.

Cheers,
Andy

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669th message | this message only posted: 7 Aug 2018 09:48
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from:
Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Please do not send requests for help direct to me via email or PM.

Post your questions on the forum where everyone can see them and add helpful replies.
Andrew Barrowman wrote:A wee bit concerned that the current limitations of 3D printing might lead to disappointment when it comes to converting your wonderful models into scaled physical representations of the real thing. My chairs are really caricatures (caricatchairs?) of the real thing rather than scale models.

I've focused on 0.013 scale and, depending on the particular printing process, I've found it necessary to accentuate the finer details to prevent them disappearing completely, even with the highest resolution printing processes available today.
Hi Andy,

A few points:

1.  Templot isn't only about 4mm/ft scale. There are users in Gauge 0, Gauge 1, Gauge 3, etc., even a few doing ground-level 5" gauge live steam. See for example Cliff Barker's track parts:
 
  http://www.cliffbarker.me.uk/

  http://www.cliffbarker.me.uk/Gauge3Track.html

And of course from Jim:

  http://www.s-scale.org.uk/track.htm

That's why I suggested you might like to do your designs full-size, so that they can be easily used in any scale. All the settings in Templot are in full-size dimensions. Not necessarily exact size -- for example users will need to modify the rail section dimensions to suit their model rail. But using the full-size equivalent dimensions. 

2.  3D printing has developed massively over the last few years. It's not likely that it won't continue to develop, with improvements over time in the available resolution and lower costs. Details in Templot which can't be resolved now might be possible in a few years time.

3.  Templot is a workshop tool. If you want to make features more prominent, you just change the settings: :)



4. The code will be open source, so it's over to you or anyone else to develop it any way you wish. In fact all the existing DXF stuff is already open source, so I'm doing nothing here that someone else couldn't be doing, right now.

For all we know, folks are now working on the open source code. But if so, they are keeping very quiet about it.

cheers,

Martin.

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