AMS Spring 2023

Shapeways 3D Printed This Ornate Detail for Historic Hawaiian Islands Railway Replica

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Richard Kapuaala is a dedicated hobbyist with a real interest in figures and trains. He runs the page ScaleHumans on Shapeways, where you can view and order all of his design work. His general focus is on the Oahu Railway and Land Company (OR&L) railroad, which was a narrow gauge railroad on the Hawaiian Islands until its dissolution in 1947. More specifically, he’s been working on a replica of the railway’s Coach 64 for over ten years. Kapuaala has been kind enough to share his progress with us over the years on Shapeways.

trolauthUsing wood, brass, polystyrene, and resin, Kapuaala built most of the trolley car replica seen above, but he encountered a problem when it came to the ornate design of the railing. To handle the complexity of the design, he chose Shapeways’ Strong & Flexible plastic, deciding to paint the railings afterwards. Kapuaala explains that choosing to 3D print the railings this way allowed a completely detailed reworking of the original design. He claims that he himself did not feel prepared with soldering and forming skills, because things have to be done on such a small scale for it to fit together. Doing them in 3D was the way to go here:

“My soldering and forming skills are just not keen enough to do this in 1:20.32 scale…I tried though. My failure was in the repetitive bends in the forms in the outer circles. In that scale you can’t even be off .003″ or nothing fits. So…I did them in 3D which allows me to work in 1:1 scale and explode details to microscopic levels if I want. Not to mention that I can make repetitive parts and copy them over and over again. I currently have the side frames of the trucks and the railings being printed out in WSF.”

trol3In addition to the ability to “explode details to miscroscopic levels,” when the 3D printed railings arrived from Shapeways, they were printed to fit nicely onto the trolley car, leaving Kapuaala satisfied with the time and effort that went into this element of his overall long term project.

Kapuaala also explains that the authentic look of his railings benefited greatly by taking time to clean them up:

“I spent a lot of time cleaning up the railing detail and was rewarded. The detail emerged beneath the white powder that caked the print. This is the first coat of paint. I’m not going to primer because I do not want to loose any detail on the railing. Now I’m confident my more detailed 7/8ths scale model will print out.”

For a general railway replica project that has required over a decade of dedication, we can only congratulate Kapuaala on his recent 3D printed addition to the trolley car. Perhaps this is his life’s destiny: to work on the railway until he can no longer post blog updates about it…

What do you think about the detail involved here? Discuss in the 3D Printed Railway forum over at 3DPB.com.

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