Using a 3D Printer for Modeling

Making model trains or planes is an interesting and addictive hobby, but it also comes with its challenges. One of the main obstacles that many model enthusiasts encounter is the limited types of models available in the market. When you want to make a somewhat unique model, you have to think outside the box.

On the bright side, it seems like things might be looking up in this particular aspect of the hobby industry. Model train and model plane enthusiasts are now excited about using 3D printers for their modeling projects. Given how large the hobby industry is, we may expect 3D printing to become more common for many hobbies in the future.

How Do We Use 3D Printing for Modeling Trains and Planes? 

Modeling Trains and Planes

When we want something new and unique for our next modeling project, we can go online and look for the most likely object. There are now some websites where you can find many free or paid STL files depicting model trains and railways. With these files, model train and plane hobbyists can use a 3D printer to print out 3D models of locomotives, traffic signs, rails, wagons, cars, and anything else you need. Needless to say, this option makes creating landscapes for model trains much easier and a lot more fun.

Once the 3D object is printed out, we may also have the task of painting it. While it is possible for a 3D printer to print the objects in different colors, the files available might not be in the exact colors you want. To be on the safe side, it’s probably best to print the objects in white or any light color and paint according to your preferences.

What Are the Advantages of Using a 3D Printer for Modeling?

What Are the Advantages of Using a 3D Printer for Modeling

It’s no secret that 3D printing is now becoming more common and more affordable in all kinds of sectors in the economy. Those who love building models of trains, planes, and other objects will find this option very attractive for making the perfect models. Below is a collection of reasons why model train hobbyists should consider using a 3D printer for their projects:

  • The hobbyist can find alternative parts or print out parts that may not be easily available on the market
  • Many times, a ready-made model kit might be missing a part or the builder might lose some parts since they’re so small. With a 3D printing option, we might be able to print out the right part without having to go through a lot of hassle
  • A 3D printer can also print out parts that are safe for kids so that they can learn through the model trains and planes. You can read up more about how model trains can be useful for education.
  • The 3D printers are able to make precise, detailed pieces that are more realistic than the mainstream kits
  • We can download all sorts of accessories to complement a certain setting; these might even be operable after printing and assembly, like a windmill or anything with wheels.

How to Start 3D Printing for Modeling

How to Start 3D Printing for Modeling

The process of starting 3D printing first involves making a Computer Assisted Design or CAD of whatever vision you have in your mind. A 3D scanner could help you get a hand-drawn image on the computer screen, or you can use a 3D modeling program to create your potential project. Save the drawing as a digital file and use the CAD software to make several hundred or thousand slices of the design with its digital code.

The information of these slices is entered into the 3D printer, which uses either metal or plastic to print out each layer. After the whole process is done, you get the 3D object of your drawing or digital rendering. As mentioned above, we can use the fuels that someone else has made or make them ourselves if we have the requisite skills.

The Expense and Value of 3D Printing

The Expense and Value of 3D Printing

It might seem very cool and futuristic to make a 3D printing of whatever part or project you have in mind. At the same time, it also seems quite an expensive process. In reality, though, the costs of 3D printing aren’t as high as the layman may think. There are now various 3D printer models available on the market for as little as $300 or $400. As this technology becomes more common, it also becomes more easily accessible to regular people.

Of course, commercial 3D printers will cost a lot more, with $1000 being considered a reasonable price. If you’re a serious model-building enthusiast, even this investment may not seem like much. Consider the costs of the model building kits we buy–some of them can go up to and beyond $100. Creating a few kits of your own with a 3D printer could help you break even very easily. Even if we take the cost of materials and electricity into account, printing out 7 or 8 model kits will be more economical than buying them on the market today.

Some individual hobbyists might have an entrepreneurial mindset and want to make certain buildings or other accessories that aren’t available in any kit. They may want to replicate existing train stations, an imaginary landscape from a movie, or something that’s entirely their idea. You may already have a certain figure, accessory, or part, but want more of these. In such cases, it should be fairly easy to upload the image of the 3D figure and print out as many replays as you want. Some 3D printer models might even give you the option to add on a engraver so that you may get engravings on leather or wood printouts. These can help you get more advantages on social media and even some cold, harsh cash.

What Do You Need to Use 3D Printing for Modeling?


Designing any kind of 3D model demands a certain level of skill and confidence in handling computers. You may have to invest some time, effort, and even money in learning the right procedures. If you don’t want to make your own designs from scratch, you will have to either purchase them from someone or use a free option. While the free options are best for a tight budget, they aren’t likely to be very unique, detailed, or outstanding in any other ways.

Along with learning to use 3D modeling software properly, one also has to learn the rules of making designs so that they are printable by a 3D printer. While the design software for 3D models is now increasingly user-friendly, it still saves time and effort to pay  for someone else to make your designs.

Limitations of 3D Printing

Limitations of 3D Printing

Other than the cost (which may still be out of the reach of the masses), it seems like 3D printing for modeling purposes doesn’t make a lot of success. However, there are flaws and downsides to every venture, and the same goes for 3D printing as well.

One example might be found in the software Sketchup, where you have to work around some of the quirks in the program. One requirement here is that we have to build the design as ten times larger than our model’s actual size. Basically speaking, this software doesn’t have the capacity to handle small dimensions.

Next, the design that has to be printed needs to be watertight. This means that the owner and user will be easily able to use the device on the water without  much issue.

There is an Accutrans 3D software, having a free trial and inexpensive payments plans. It might be in 6ep x v4, but is not always compatible with computers like Mac. There have been leaps and bounds in technology since then, though, so some parents are now cooking to alleviate the tension

Materials Used by a 3D Printer

Materials Used by a 3D Printer

Above, we reiterated that different kinds of printers can produce different types of sizes, levels of detail, with materials such as other materials. Just a few of these materials include:

  • FUD or Frosted Ultra Detail, providing excellent denial even if the prints are affordable.
  • Plastics
  • Powders
  • Resin
  • Stainless steel or other metals
  • Graphite
  • Grapheme
  • Carbon fiber
  • National
  • Paper

If any of the materials seems a bit off, ask an expert on how to build the model without using it. The printing process is still full of inconsistencies, with mood orientation ruling the roost


If you’re interested in 3D printing and 3D design programs, there are several options available online as well. Some have both free and paid versions, such as Sketchup Make, Sketchup and Sketchup Pro. While the free versions may have their flaws, they do allow dipping a toe in the water and see how it goes before going to the paid and premium versions.