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The OpenRailway Project Launches: Bringing 3D Printing & Railroad Modeling Together for Hobbyists

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‘Stephenson’s Rocket’, designed and printed by Norée and his father

We’ve said it time and time again: 3D printing is the perfect solution for total customization. Traditional means of manufacturing simply do not cut it when customers, hobbyists, and medical doctors require the use of custom made parts, products, or prototypes. This is why so many companies and individuals are beginning to really embrace the technology that we refer to as either 3D printing or additive manufacturing.

It’s not just businesses that benefit from customization of parts; many hobbies do as well. One such example would be enthusiasts of RC cars and vehicles. There is actually an entire “OpenRC Project” dedicated to individuals looking to create custom RC cars using primarily 3D printing technology. Founded in 2012 by Daniel Norée, they have proven that they can create RC cars via 3D printing that are just as capable as those produced via other more traditional means of manufacturing.

RC cars are not the only hobby that can be enhanced through 3D printing.  We all know that model railroaders could benefit tremendously through the use of customization as well. The technology allows those interested in creating their own custom railroad cars, as well as replicas of real railroad tracks, buildings, etc., to quickly and easily model them and subsequently print them out, as well as share these designs with others. Recently, Norée was presented with a question of if the idea behind his OpenRC Project could work within the realm of model railroading.

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“A few months ago the organizer of Sweden’s largest hobby fair asked if I was willing to attend the[ir] fair, and show the possibilities of 3D printing for the hobbyist,” Norée tells 3DPrint.com. “While I have 3d printed RC cars, quads and other things, they were also interested in model train stuff. As it happens, me and my dad have built a model railway of our own and so naturally I wanted to do something that involved trains as well. So together with my friends at Swedish 3D printer reseller ‘Creative Tools’, we made a 2 meter long railroad, all 3D printed. On top of that we got permission from model train manufacturer Jeco to test-print one of the locomotives to show at the fair.”

As it probably goes without saying, the fair was a tremendous success, and it generated a huge amount of interest — so much so, that Norée struggled to even find time to eat his lunch. “I got so much positive feedback, it’s ridiculous,” explained Norée. “Most people were surprised by the print quality and things you can make (with 3D printing technology).”

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Because of the previous success that Norée had with his OpenRC Project, and the extraordinary interest that he saw from those within the model railroad hobby, he decided that he would launch a new initiative called “The OpenRailway Project.” This new project and its community allow people interested in DIY model train building (especially via 3D printing) to share ideas, inspire one another, and help each other out.

While the OpenRailway Project is nowhere near the size, nor has it garnered the attention, of the OpenRC project, with time it just may catch up or even surpass it. What do you think? Will 3D printing ultimately become one of the mainstream technologies used by model railroaders? It certainly seems to be a tremendous option. Discuss in the Open Railway Project forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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