How to print an entire ship

Discussion in 'Digital Design and Fabrication' started by rcengr, Jun 7, 2015.

  1. rcengr

    rcengr Vendor

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    This a thread to discuss ideas how we might go about printing an entire ship. Each idea shared that works, or doesn't work, will help the community as a whole advance the state of the art of ship making.

    I first looked at printing a complete ship in sections. But I didn't like all the support that would be needed and the longer prints are more likely to go wrong.

    After thinking about it a while, I concluded that the best way may be just to print all the parts separately and assemble it like a plastic model. This has the advantage of being able to pick the best fill % and print orientation for each part. It may even be faster, but there would be a lot more individual files.

    The individual parts route didn't really seem to take advantage of the printer capabilities, so I'm working on a slightly different plan. I'm planning to print the sub-deck and ribs together, the bottom solid area with integral water channel, and a separate deck with most of the superstructure included. Individually printed pieces would include motor mounts, pump, servo mount, and superstructure parts (like the stacks) that I would expect to need frequent replacing.

    I'm using a M-class British destroyer as my test case. It's 23" long by 2" wide. Not really a practical model, but if it only has propulsion and a pump, it would make a great 38 knot convoy ship in Treaty. Of course my goal is to arm it with an accumulator and spurt gun. It's good to set challenging goals. Because of the length, I need to partition it length wise into 4 pieces to fit on my printer.

    The first test print is the bow section. Below is a picture of the sub-deck and ribs. I also had the bottom piece with slots for the ribs, but I seem to have misplaced it. I had some serious lifting issues and stopped the print before it completed. Even so, it looked like it would work. The ribs are 4mm wide - that seemed to be better compromise than 3mm or 6mm - and are decently strong. I was able to break them off, but it took a little effort. If they were brushed with acetone they would be even stronger.
    Bow print.jpg
     
  2. jch72

    jch72 Active Member

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    First, THAT LOOKS AWESOME!

    I'm thinking for maximum strength you would need to print the ribs and sub-deck separately, and flat on the table, so the layers on the ribs would not be horizontal and the smallest cross sectional area possible, instead the rib layers would end up oriented up and down. It would also speed up the printing time considerably. Pop rivet or a screw through the joint and some goop and you would have a really durable structure. I think if you use the orientation in the picture above you will quickly end up with broken ribs in combat. Deck rim will hold up fine though.

    I would like to see how well ABS printed ribs and deck rim hold up to a chisel, scraper, heat gun and MEK combo when completely stripping the hull prior to resheeting.

    Any thoughts on an integrated internal armor retention mechanism?
     
  3. NickMyers

    NickMyers Admin RCWC Staff

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    Don't user superglue to sheet and you won't have to chisel. ABS will handle contact cement just fine (yes I am aware of what the involved solvents are, I tried it, it works fine) and contact cement is a dream to sheet and resheet with compared to super glue. Don't even need to get all the old CC off as the fresh stuff just livens up the old.
     
  4. NickMyers

    NickMyers Admin RCWC Staff

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    I'm planning on embarking on a 'print a ship' project as well. My intent is to print the ribs laying down, and all the subdeck and keel pieces flat as well. This allows for easier individual piece replacement if needed, and IMO, much greater strength on items like ribs than printing as a hull section would. It will be somewhat time -inefficient though vs using the Z space because i'll have to spend time heating the bed before printing and then cooling and removing prints, and then heating again. I do not have a heated build chamber though and feel this minimizes the risk to a single print, in addition to the other perceived benefits.

    I have no intention of printing bottom hard area, or decks. ABS sheet can be purchased readily and I can use thin ABS sheet to form the bottom and thicker ABS for the decks.
     
  5. jch72

    jch72 Active Member

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    Hi Nick, I am not a noob. Nobody should use superglue to sheet. My rib to paper and paper to balsa laminations are stronger than the hull skin overall and it won't usually pull off in one piece, even with a 400 degree heat gun. Even using contact cement sometimes you need to scrape every bit of the old contact cement and paper off the ribs instead of relying on the new CC to melt the boogers, like when you find shattered or de-laminated ribs and need to infiltrate them with rubberized CA. Also some hulls have curves and areas that mean you have to use a chisel instead of a scraper to get the old balsa off, such as the casemates on my Nagato.
     
  6. thegeek

    thegeek Well-Known Member

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    I use "Goof Off" to remove the contact cement, it makes it soft and you can then scrape it off with a putty knife. I have used the heat gun too and that works well but when you have several layers of patch and wood and glue the heat gun won't penetrate deep enough to soften the glue.
    Frankly I like the old wood hulls better than the FG, but if ABS rubs and deck rim was available that would be my pick.
     
  7. jch72

    jch72 Active Member

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    I don't like wood for warpage reasons. No matter how well you waterproof, it still gets wet somewhere and swells. Plus it is not as convenient with a complicated hull shape. I think the best hull material strictly in terms of durability may be an epoxy/multi-layer cloth combination, which should be similar to G10. Until someone finds find some filament that is 30%+ fiberglass filled and figures out how to print with it. Printable hull comes close to the old disposable ship idea for convenience though.

    Do any of you printing guys know if there is a glass fiber filled filament that works well for extrusion? Glass may inhibit layer adhesion somewhat but it would be even more impact resistant and strong in the direction of extrusion.
     
  8. thegeek

    thegeek Well-Known Member

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    I run ABS barbetts and they hold up to point blank range and maximum tweek, and just a little dimple is left.
     
  9. jch72

    jch72 Active Member

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    I run 1/16" thick vertical G10 walls on the casemate and back of the Nagato, they weigh less than 1/4" thick ABS, scrape well when necessary and dimples aren't very visible. Can't say the same about the aluminum casemate cupola, it looks like hammered *** now. Essentially the same material as an epoxy/fiberglass cloth layup. You can't cut it or trim it with a knife, only score it.
     
  10. thegeek

    thegeek Well-Known Member

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    yeh that G10 is tough but when a whole panel goes, it goes and then the water follows.
     
  11. NickMyers

    NickMyers Admin RCWC Staff

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    Sadly I have yet to see any consumer end filled filament that is stronger than the base material and actually printable without clogging issues or in the case of the carbon fiber stuff - excessively abrasive to the nozzle.

    My apology, didn't mean to come off that way but I clearly posted without sufficient consideration of who was posting and why.

    You would probably have to work with a lot more care with an ABS rib, but on the plus side you could also just cut it out and bond in a new one off the printer if you had a truly problematic spot and the chisel or the MEK bit too deep.
     
  12. jch72

    jch72 Active Member

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    So a butt joint with CA failed, which is an adhesive failure, not a failure of the G10. 1/16" thick panels right next to that were slotted into the deck and have been shot point blank by the hardest guns for 5 nats and 2 regionals and held up perfectly. Judging by the aluminum cupola that is at least 100 shots per square inch.
     
  13. jch72

    jch72 Active Member

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    Its all good Nick. Is there any chance one of you guys is getting an extruder sometime? It would be interesting to try glass filled material for printing. I think it would have excellent durability.
     
  14. ish311

    ish311 Active Member

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    Nylon and bridge material hold up well as well. harder to print.
    Enger after printing my ship hard area to rim i would recommend printing the hard area separate and joining. when I get my printer back online tonight I will post a picture of the ship as is.

    as far as printed deck I have tried a set on top with an inset to hold it and other than getting the deck adhered down to the rim with tape for seal it works well but does need fairly high infill or it collapses into itself. but is very very light. next half of the ship will have a traditionally built inset rim.
     
  15. rcengr

    rcengr Vendor

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    This doesn't really address retaining armor, but printed material can be armor. I got tired of struggling to get the shower pan liner into the first bay while making sure it didn't lay right on the sheeting of my Hawaii. So I printed this piece to fit in that bay. It's about 3mm thick, with no top or bottom and 50% fill. So water will pass through it and it stops the BBs. The same technique can be used to print custom pump screens.
    hawaii armor.jpg
     
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  16. rcengr

    rcengr Vendor

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    I can see doing the flat part of the hull bottom with ABS sheet, it would be faster and probably cheaper. But why not print the part around the curve of the hull up to the bottom of the penetrable windows?

    If you wanted the deck to be solid ABS there's not much sense in printing it. But you could save some top weight if you printed it with a 50% fill.
     
  17. PrepmasterNick

    PrepmasterNick Active Member

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    I was curious about this. I'm going to do the poor man's research and let ya'll engineers decide if it is going to come out ahead of fiberglass. I am currently imagining fiberglass.
     
  18. rcengr

    rcengr Vendor

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    Fiberglass is a pretty ideal material for our hobby... impact resistant and waterproof. It is not easy for the average modeler to layup into ship hull. So while the sheet fiberglass can be used by most, only a select few can build a complete hull with it. ABS is not going to be as durable, but it brings the possibility of building a ship from an impact resistant, waterproof material to more modelers.
     
  19. NickMyers

    NickMyers Admin RCWC Staff

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    In large part because my build environment (not contained, near complete lack of environmental control) produces a large amount of problems on larger ABS prints as they get away from the heated bed. So I'm trying to maximize what I can do and minimize failures that only add to the scrap heap of delaminated and miss-sliced dreams.

    It has crossed my mind that I could try skinning between the ribs with tape and paint in a slurry to form the hull in places that aren't flat, then backfill with whatever I desired (more ABS, epoxy, foam, whtvr), similar to how some of the wood kits have been getting built. I think it would work out in most areas. The complex curves fore and aft might induce some problems with that approach.
     
  20. PrepmasterNick

    PrepmasterNick Active Member

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    I'm looking at it from a perspective of what's available to use like the kits. I understand that some modelers will be able and prefer to build from complete scratch including the fiberglass but I don't think anyone really wants to manufacture their own glue and grow the plant to get their own variety of wood. You know? There's only so far down it has to be prescribed to get done or even be innovative or unique.

    Likewise, some of these printers can be fine tuned and there might be a more or less bouyant resin to use. Perhaps more durable. Maybe the soft spots could be printed when the material becomes manageable through a printer. How cool would it be to buy or even just click print for a whole model from one end to the other. I know printers only have like a 8" x 8" print space with whatever height. Some are bigger. There are kits to make them bigger. 6ft isn't that bad in those terms once you add the kit.

    I'm really interested to see if this can be realized in the above terms as well. Not just comparing one craft to another. @rcengr, how cool would it be to order a printed kit and just put it in water? No measuring... no trimming... no cross referencing blue prints.. no superstructure assembly or planning. Just float it. Then add what you need to add. Been to battle? Gotta reskin? Maybe it's cheap enough to be disposable by the time we have it figured out. All this assuming the soft parts could be printed. Perhaps just easily pop out and lay in the next window with some positioning spray. I'm really interested to see if it gets to this point. Maybe I'm dreaming too hard but I feel like with all I've seen on youtube that ya'll could figure it out.