The "Vasona Branch" is a model railroad setup by Robert Vasona, who recently wrote on his experiences using 3D printing for a 1920's Drive-In Market section of the model railroad.
Building unique structures is a constant interest among model railroaders, and it seems to us that 3D printing technology is more than an excellent fit for that need. Robert Vasona, as have other model railroaders, have been using the technology to build unusual pieces for their railroads. Recently he's been using a MakerBot.
Robert's encounter with 3D printing had several key learnings:
- Duplicate parts ore easy. Normally model railroaders make parts by hand, and one can imagine the difficulty of producing identical parts. With a 3D printer it's easy. Just print two.
- Smooth surfaces are not easy. The MakerBot tends to leave "stripey" surfaces due to the nature of its extrusion. However, Robert fixed the surfaces: "I covered the face with spackle, gesso, or acrylic medium to try to smooth out the edges."
- Part joins are easy. Building structures by hand usually requires joining several parts together, and the more parts involved, the more difficult it gets to align them all properly. But with a 3D printer you can simply print out the entire object without having to worry about part alignment.