Preserving Locomotives With 3D Laser Scanning And 3D Printing

[Chris Thorpe] is a model railroading aficionado, and from his earliest memories he was infatuated with the narrow gauge locomotives that plied their odd steel tracks in northern Wales. Of course [Chris] went on to create model railroads, but kit manufacturers such as Airfix and Hornby didn’t take much interest in the small strange trains of the Ffestiniog railway.

The days where manufacturing plastic models meant paying tens of thousands of dollars in tooling for injection molds are slowly coming to an end thanks to 3D printing, so [Chris] thought it would be a great idea to create his own models of these small locomotives with 3D laser scanners and high quality 3D printers.

[Chris] started a kickstarter to fund a 3D laser scanning expedition to the workshop where the four oldest locomotives of the Ffestiniog railway were being reconditioned for their 150th anniversary. The 3D printed models he’s able to produce with his data have amazing quality; with a bit of paint and a few bits of brass, these models would fit right in to any model railway.

Even better than providing scale narrow gauge engines to model railway enthusiasts around the world is the fact that [Chris] has demonstrated the feasibility of using modern technology to recreate both famous and underappreciated technological relics in plastic for future generations. There’s a lot that can be done with a laser scanner in a railway or air museum or [Jay Leno]’s garage, so we’d love to see more 3D printed models of engineering achievements make their way onto Kickstarter.

3 thoughts on “Preserving Locomotives With 3D Laser Scanning And 3D Printing

  1. I suppose it is costly, but I’ve been toying with the idea of building scenery for model railroad layouts with 3-D printing (structures such as houses, buildings, factories, bridges, cars and trucks. To buy them now is expensive and 3-D printing can be scaled for the different model railroad scales (e.g. O27, HO, N, etc.)

  2. When I am old I will revisit my fantasy of building HO scale post apocalyptic railroad towns. More on topic; I think this is a great application of 3D printing and for some reason I’d never considered it.

    – Robot

  3. This would also be interesting for archaeological treasures, think of having a 1/20th scale Venus De Milo printed out (they won’t let you cop a feel at the museum) or (if they had been scanned before being blown up) using a scan to rebuild the Buddhas of Bamiyan.

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