The Flexiscale Company in the UK are 3D scanning the trains from the UK’s historic Ffestiniog Railway in Wales in order to produce 3D printed model kits. The Kickstarter project has almost raised the $5,000 required to completely fund the project.
The Ffestiniog Railway was opened in 1836 and is the oldest independent railway in the world and as well as its historic significance the railway is a major tourist attraction within the Welsh Snowdonia National Park. The railway ran until 1946 and now only four railway engines provide tourist trips along a 14 mile section which is still in use.
Flexiscale are making accurate kits using 3D scanning laser technology which will enable enthusiasts to create accurate representations of the four steam engines and rolling stock. The advantages of 3D printers to this project is that they allow kits to be created in a variety of scales and rather than a generic kit, individual kits for each of the four steam engines can be produced. Smaller parts may also not be able to be produced easily using casting and molding processes.
The model kits are created using MakerBot 3D printers and several different materials are used within the kits to represent all the different types of materials that trains are made from. With the MakerBot new materials can be easily tested and evaluated for use in the kits. For small volume manufacturers, such as in the model train market, 3D printers are the ideal production method as startup costs are significantly reduced.
Here’s a video of a computer model that was created using the 3D scanning data for a steam locomotive.