About 11 years ago, I sold my O scale product line to Keith Wiseman who still produces urethane kits for sale thru ebay. Those kits were built with state of the art techniques at the time: hand made styrene patterns used for 1-piece bodies or flat urethane castings then assembled into a finished model. Add grab irons, etc. with trucks, weight, couplers, paint and decals and you had a decent car, especially for the complicated hopper that was so popular. I made 2 flats, 2 gons and 1 hopper in HOn3.
Within the past 2 months I've been working with a new 3D printing company in Maryland to make 3 styles of roller bearing truck sideframes in S standard. This is a "next step" from the more laborious flat-cast urethane parts once used. You can visit my web site: http://www.smokymountainmodelworks.com/S_freight_trucks.html to inspect the CAD designs. I'm also producing 4 diesel sideframe kits using similar techniques ... those can be seen on this page: http://www.smokymountainmodelworks.com/S_diesel_truck_sideframes.html
What I'm proposing is to design new HOn3 offerings, including the 5 sold off 11 years ago, by using 3D CAD (Solidworks) and my new "printing partners" in MD to produce 1-pc bodies of the flats, gons, boxcars, both hopper types and, maybe 1 of the tank cars, then expand those files to S and O, with associated adjustments for commercially available detail parts like grab irons and couplers. As I'm currently envisioning this, a body would be designed as a single unit, but to limit layering/stairstepping affect caused by additive rapid prototyping layers, the sides and ends would be built flat and easily assembled to the underframe to create the body. The hopper requires separate slope sheets due to the angle.
There is ZERO flash using 3DP parts but some surface cleaning to remove processing agent is advisable. New "washaway" supports allow finer details, like air lines, to be designed into the CAD file. They are strong enough to withstand assembly and are protected from most handling. Even truss rods and queenposts can be built ON the model during the printing process. Same for steps and coupler boxes if desired. The layer thickness of the material for hi-rez StereoLithography is .002" which creates very noticeable steps on curved surfaces or surfaces not parallel to the machine's build platform, like a peaked roof. MY 3DP guy's machine can print as thin as 14 microns which is 1/4 the thickness of SLA. A very noticeable difference but still at a fraction of what the same part built as SLA would cost.
What I need from Johnny, Chris or anyone else with such info, please send me freight car rosters, photos, drawings, whatever u have that can be emailed. Broadside photos and drawings are the best to design in CAD directly from imported photos/drawings. I only want freight cars and cabooses. Ken Marsh has some really nice single-car B&W prints and, at one time, Frank Pearsall had drawings made by Lee ? or someone else who build kits, maybe just for himself.
If you have stenciling diagrams or close ups of various lettering ... thankfully, most apps were VERY meager ... I'll create decal artwork for the kit.
Bottom line: I want to produce an entire product like of the ET/LRRR freight car fleet using 3D CAD with 3D printing, including truck sideframes/bolsters. I've proven it can be done in S with my trucks and, while Sn3 is about the same size as HO standard and On3 about S standard, the 3DP company has no problems printing an entire boxcar body with separate roof that's easily joined at the roofline to eliminate stairstepping.
All of my ET drawings and photo went to Keith with my kit patterns; I have nothing to work from except John Waite's excellent book. I sold Johnny's books to a collector 2 years ago. I will return any item the donor wants back after I've scanned applicable pages. We builders know that we never can get "too" much information. If you want to see these cars become a reality starting this year, tell what scale you are interested in, what cars you'd like to see and, for O, what gauge (bolsters are different for On3 and On30) and how many you'd buy.
One teaser ... my 3DP shop uses equipment that can color the resin with a wide variety of colors and select different durometers for some parts. Thick hopper walls and underframes would be rigid material but brake wheels and steps, both subject to breakage, could be softer, similar to Polypropylene. The final teaser is that I can produce a very simple kit with pieces that join together with minimal flue and almost no fiddling in BOXCAR RED or in WEATHERED BLACK or in CABOOSE RED. Grab iron and step holes don't require drilling ... just position and glue!
Lastly about the company ... being based in eastern US, I can speak to another technically literate person about a project in my time zone! We can resolve the issue(s) quickly, I can send samples to him to run test prints and have them in my hand in 4-5 days. None of this send off files to Shapeways and hope you get something usable in 4-6 weeks. They have no control over their web of suppliers. Conversely, my US shop makes everything in-house, including processing the order, making parts, cleaning, packaging, shipping and billing. THAT'S how I run my business, too.
Prices will be commesurate with the scale and car type you order but certainly within the range of a current resin kit (around $60 in HO, less trucks and couplers). My kits would include decals and trucks, including the unique "jacked up" McCord.
Please give this some serious consideration; send me suggestions for items you buy, including HOW MANY of each type you'd buy. Cars with the most demand would start first. I just need lots of photos and drawings to pull this off. I did it once before ... I can do it again, just BETTER by using CAD and 3DP.
Smoky Mountain Model Works, Inc.