The future arrives in the post.
Six months ago I was cruising the internet, looking at model stuff, and came across a site called Shapeways. I saw this:
It’s listed at $19 CAD, unpainted, but look at the detail! But as you know, the steam tug I am building is to 1/24 scale. Anyway, at the top of the page, which was, ” https://www.shapeways.com/shops/3dboats?li=pb” , is a note saying “If you see what you want, but not in the scale that you want, let me know.” together with a “send message” button.
Turned out that to send a message, I had to become a member of the Shapeways site forum. So with computer, web site, and password glitches, it took a couple of days. But the Shapeways help people were helpful and persistent, so it got done. A few days later I got a message back, the 1/24 scale Bridge set was now available, and there it was, and still is, at 48.85 CAD, plus postage.
At first that price seemed disproportionate, but I wanted it anyway, so I ordered one. But I’ve been wondering in the interval about the basis of the business, and I guess the base cost of a unit is the material and the time it takes for the printer to make it. Assuming the printer works at a constant throughput of material, that means that both the material and the time go up by the cube of the scale. So from 1/32 to 1/24 the cube of the increase would be 3.375. On that basis the cost should be $19 times 3.375 = $64.13. Now it looks like a snip.
From what I can gather, Shapeways is a company with two rooms full of 3D printers and pack and post facilities, one in New York, and one in the Netherlands. And an office or offices with a lot of computer servers. Its “Marketplace” is a gathering of individual designer “shops” from which you can order anything that the designer has drawn up for the 3D printers. The designers and the customers can be anywhere in the world with a computer and postal connections.
If you look at the site, the number of designers is already huge and it is growing very fast. And the variety of things that they have on offer! My grandson is a huge fan of Lego Bionicle figures, and within minutes of my showing him the website he had found all kinds of custom additions to his already massive Lego collection and was drooling over them.
Anyway, my bridge set arrived. This is it.
I look forward to painting it and gluing it into place when I have the rest of the wheelhouse interior done. That’ll be a while yet.