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I am looking for a product you don't offer, can you still help?
Yes we can definitely help you. If you can't find something you are looking for just fill out the form on this page.
Why did you start Trackside3D?
3D printing is an amazing technology with lots of benefits for you, the railway modeller. While 3D printers and material are widely available, you also need things to print. Before Trackside3D, you were limited to what free models were available on-line, learning CAD to make your own models or pay to have a model designed for you. Inspired by the concept of downloadable card kits, we decided to take it to the next level by offering downloadable 3D models. This makes 3D printing a viable option to all railway modellers not just a select few with CAD skills.
What is the difference between your models and a printable kit?
PDF Card kits are typically printed by a laser printer or inkjet printer. Those pages are glued to card, cut out and then assembled layer by layer. Our models are 3D printed plastic parts which are either complete or require minimal assembly. Aside from a stronger plastic product, our products produce highly accurate and high quality objects. You don't need to have good modeling skills to get great results. If you have good modeling skills you will end up with incredible results. You won't have to worry about buildings being square, inaccurate cutouts or failures over time like you have with card kits.
What is the difference between your models and lasercut kits?
Lasercut kits are 2D parts made from MDF or card that are cut to a high precision with a laser. These parts are then assembled to make a 3D object, similar to card kits but typically made from stronger materials. Both the process of laser cutting and some materials such as MDF, can make some small and fine parts very weak and prone to breaking. Some lasercut manufacturers often include extras or offer replacement parts due to this. Just like card kits, Lasercut kits are very time consuming to build and can be frustrating due to easily broken fine parts. Lasercut kits often have a clunky jigsaw puzzle feel to them, both due to the material and the fact that 2D parts require interlocking pieces for assembly.
Our models produce 3D parts made from plastic or hybrid-plastic materials. The models require very little assembly but offer the same level of modeling opportunities as other kits in terms of painting and weathering. Our 3D models produce very strong but fine parts, they are also lighter but stronger than what you can get with a laser cutter. 3D printing enables innovative techniques such as integrated circuit paths for lighting and highly detailed parts, especially when combining FDM and MSLA printers.
3D printing enables the use of specialty materials such as cement textured plastics, wood infused PLA and metal-plastic hybrid materials. There is a rapidly growing selection of unique and interesting materials that offer finishes that you simply cannot achieve with a lasercut product.
Our products you buy once and can print unlimited times for your own personal use. Need spare parts? Print them off. Need another building or more trunking? Just print it off. For the vast majority of our products, our model plus the cost of your materials are less than the shipping costs of a similar lasercut kit.
Our products offer lifetime updates, if we discover an inaccuracy or more detail can be achieved thanks to newer 3D printing technology, we update the model and you can simply download it again. With lasercut kits, you would have to buy a new kit to receive the same benefits.
What is the difference between your models and other 3D printed products?
When you buy a 3D model from Trackside3D, you are typically paying a comparable price to just one 3D printed product. You can make unlimited personal use prints from our models, so you save lots of money! With our products you control the quality of the material and the quality of the print. Most businesses selling 3D printed products need to produce an acceptable print while minimizing print time and material use. So generally our products are a much higher quality for a much lower cost than 3D printed products from other businesses.
Our 3D models are designed specifically for 3D printing technologies. As our customers are printing the models on their own printers, our models have to be free of errors and always result in a successful reproducible print. When you buy a 3D printed product, you have no idea what structural and other flaws are contained within the model, resulting in a much weaker model.
Even if you don't want to buy a 3D printer, you are much better off purchasing our 3D models and using a third party service such as MeltWerk to produce the print for you, as you retain control of the material and quality settings for the print.
Can I order pre-printed models?
We are based in the United States so direct shipment of pre-printed models to the UK is cost prohibitive. We recommend using a third party print service such as MeltWerk. To use a third party like MeltWerk, simply purchase the 3D model from us and then upload it to MeltWerk and pay their fee to print the model. Starting in June 2020, you can also purchase printed products from our Shapeways Shop.
What do I need to start 3D printing?
You will need a 3D printer, the material to print with, 3D printing software and the model or object to print. Trackside3D provides the latter, the digital model which is loaded into the software and then sent to the printer.
What are unlimited personal use prints?
When you buy our models you are permitted to make unlimited prints for your own personal use. For example if you buy our one of our relay box models and you need twenty of them. You buy the relay box model once and you can print it out twenty times for your own layout.
What are updates?
The models we provide are digital blueprints for the physical object for your layout. When you buy a 3D model from Trackside3D today, you will receive all future updates to that model. Advances are being made in both the 3D printing software and the 3D printer hardware on a regular basis. When its possible for us to provide an even better model leveraging those technologies, we will provide an updated version of the model. When we make the update, you will automatically receive an email with a link to download the latest version.
What type of 3D printer do I need?
The two common types of 3D printers available to consumers today are FDM and MSLA. FDM printers melt plastic filament through a nozzle and build the object layer by layer. MSLA use an LCD screen to cure special resin. FDM printers are easier to use and cheaper to run. MSLA printers require working with chemical resins and post processing with isopropyl alcohol. FDM printers can produce larger prints anywhere from 300mm x 300mm x 300mm up to 600mm x 600mm x 600mm. While MSLA printers are typically around 115mm x 65mm x 165mm. MSLA printers due to the LCD screen curing can produce much higher resolution prints, meaning a lot more detailed. However the resin requires curing and washing, and can often be thinner / weaker than filament. Filaments offer interesting textures such as wood, metals and concrete type finishes. If you are starting out we highly recommend an FDM printer such as the Creality CR-6 or Ender 5. You should only consider an MSLA printer if you are printing for smaller scales like N and are comfortable working with chemicals. The MSLA printer for larger scales is useful for creating detailing parts to enhance filament prints. So it makes more sense to buy an FDM printer first and then invest in an MSLA printer later.
Are 3D printers expensive?
Not at all. A good quality Creality Ender 3 printer will cost less than $200. A mid-range printer such as the Creality CR-6 or Creality Ender 5 will cost less than $300. You will pay less than a DCC sound loco!
How much does it cost to print a 3D model?
For filament printers, the cost is approximately $20 per kilogram. This can vary depending on the brand of filament you are using. It can be as low as $10 per kilogram and as high as $40 per kilogram. Specialty materials such as Wood or Metal infused PLA typically cost around the $40 per kilogram range. Model railway accessories and even buildings do not weigh more than a few grams. So the cost to produce the model is typically a fraction of a penny to a few pence. 3D printed accessories are usually a fraction of the cost of traditional model railway products.
How are your model prices calculated?
We keep our pricing as low as possible so that you don't miss out on the cost savings benefits of 3D printing. We want everyone to benefit from owning a 3D printer.
When pricing a new product, we start off with a base price. The base price is the result of market research, we look at how much someone would pay to buy a similar model railway item from their local model shop or on-line retailer. Factors that decrease the base price include the amount of assembly and post-processing such as painting someone would have to do. Factors that increase the cost of the model include factors such as how many times a typical modeller might need the item for their layout. We take into consideration other factors such as the complexity of the design.
We feel that this is a fair and balanced approach to pricing.
What scale are your models in?
All of our models are designed in OO scale / 4mm (1:76.2). However you can scale our models up or down to almost any scale using 3D printer software called a slicer. To learn more about how to scale up to O scale or down to HO or N scale click here.
What do I get when I buy a model from Trackside3D?
After checkout you will be taken to a page with links to download the models you have purchased. You will also receive an email with the same links for future reference. When you purchase a model from Trackside3D, you are buying a license to 3D print the model you purchased for your own personal use. You can find the license agreement here.
What is a downloadable model?
Downloading is the process of clicking on the link in the email you receive after ordering and saving the file to your computer / device. The file is a zip file that contains one or more STL files. The STL file contains the information on how to construct the part.
What do I do with the STL file?
You will need to load the STL file into a piece of software called a slicer. This may have come with your 3D printer or you can download the free Ultimaker Cura software. The slicer contains a profile for your specific 3D printer. Once you load the model into the slicer and select the profile for your printer, you can then slice the model.
What does slicing mean?
Slicing is the process of converting the model into a series of instructions to direct your printer to create the object. The same way you might use a SatNav or Google Maps to get from one location to another. The slicer uses the 3D printer profile to create instructions to get the printer from the start to a fully completed object. The slicer produces a gcode file.
What do I do with the gcode file?
This depends on your printer. If your printer is connected to your computer via USB, then you can typically send the gcode directly to the printer without worrying about a file. If you insert an SD or Micro SD card into your 3D printer, then you will need to copy the gcode file produced by the slicer to your SD or MicroSD card. Once on the SD card, simply insert it into the printer and use the menu on your printer to print the object.
Is my 3D printer supported?
Yes. The 3D models we provide are not tied to a specific printer. Provided you have the slicer software (or profile) for your 3D printer and the print bed is bigger than the model, it will print.
I have an SLA 3D printer will it work?
Yes, provided the print chamber of your SLA printer is bigger than the model. Our models are primarily designed and optimized for FDM printers. You may find some models are too large for an SLA/MSLA printer. The SLA printer does not have an infill setting some models will completely solid and will use more resin as a result. Check our website for upcoming SLA optimized models. All of our SLA optimized models are tested on the Anycubic Photon.
Can I try out a Trackside3D model before I buy?
Yes we have a range of FREE models you can try. These can be found at the Trackside3D page over at oorail or over at our thingiverse page.
Can I print a model for my friend(s)?
To print models for friend(s) who do not have a 3D printer, they need to purchase the model for download first or you need to purchase the file again for each friend. Once they own the file, you can print it out as many times as they want for their personal use.
I am using my friend's 3D printer, can I print them a model?
If you want to gift your friend a model in return for printing, you will need to buy them a copy of the digital file.
Can I share the files?
No. Sharing the files is a violation of the license agreement you agreed to when purchasing from us. Supporting Trackside3D enables us to continue to bring you high quality and innovative models.
How do I finish my model?
You can paint your model with acrylic or enamel paints. We would recommend you use an airbrush if possible. You can use printable textures such as those available from companies like Scalescenes or texture sheets from companies such as Scale Model Scenery. To attach printed textures to a model, you should use spray adhesive such as those available from 3M.
Can I get a refund?
Unfortunately due to the nature of the digital download we cannot offer refunds. However we do provide support for printing the model, so please feel free to contact us if you are having problems printing the model.
What skill level is needed to build the models?
Anyone from beginner to advanced can build our models. Many of our models can be printed in the correct colour and placed directly on your layout. All of our models can be painted and placed on the layout. Even our most complex kits are easier to assemble than card kits or plastic model kits.
How good will the quality be?
Provided your 3D printer is correctly calibrated and the bed is leveled properly. You should expect a level of quality on par with RTR products. Unlike card kits or lasercut kits that can require some effort to produce level or square buildings, our kits are printed with fractions of a mm precision.
What if I make a mistake painting the model?
You can use IPA or acrylic paint thinner to correct mistakes. Acetone and other chemicals may react, bond or discolour the model depending on the type of material you used to print it. Please check with your filament or resin manufacturer for information on working with their material.
What filament do you recommend?
We use a number of different filaments, we recommend the following manufacturers:
We recommend the use of PLA, PETG and hybrid materials such as Wood PLA and Metal infused PLA.
What 3D printer do you recommend?
We recommend the following 3D printers:
- Creality CR-6 / 6SE
- Creality Ender 5 / Ender 5 Plus
- Creality Ender 3 Pro
- Prusa I3
- JG Aurora (now JG Maker) A5/A5S
There are always new and interesting products coming on the market. We would recommend that you also check out the following YouTube channels for 3D printer reviews and buying information:
What 3D printers do you use?
Our 3D printing lab is made up of the following printers:
- Creality Ender 5 / Ender 5 Plus
- Creality Ender 3 / Ender 3 Pro
- Creality CR-10 S5
- JG Aurora A5 / A5S
- JG Aurora A1 / A1X
- JG Aurora z603s
What 3D printing software do you use?
We use the latest release of Ultimaker Cura during the development and QA process with our models. As of May 1st 2020, we test all newly released models with prusaslicer as part of our QA process.
What software do you use to design the models?
All of our models are designed with Blender.
Where do you get the dimensions for the models?
This depends on the model but we always start with the full scale prototype dimensions from original source documents such as manufacturer specifications, engineering documents or drawings/diagrams. For objects that still exist today that information is augmented with 360 Virtual Reality data and physical reference measurements. For objects that do not exist today or where access to those objects is not possible or restricted, Trackside3D has developed specialized software to obtain measurements from source material such as photographs, video and other film. We have acquired a large library of railway technical data through the purchase of assets from UK railway industry firms.
Where can I get additional information?
Please feel free to contact us, you can also get more information on Trackside3D from the product descriptions themselves or from the Trackside3D section of the oorail website.