Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Mix and Match

As you may remember from a previous post, my son quite likes his Duplo and even uses it to build locomotives and carriages. What I don't think I've mentioned before is the large collection of wooden railway stuff he's also built up.

It all started when he was given this starter set as a present on his first birthday. There are quite a few different brands of wooden railway, most of which all use the same standards and so can be used together. That means the collection has expended rapidly with sets and pieces from Bigjigs, BRIO, John Lewis (although their range seems to have been discontinued), and a few of the wooden Thomas locomotives; after all we definitely needed a Toby the Tram engine!

As you can see with all these bits the layouts he can build (or he gets us to build) can get quite large and complex. One problem, that occurs more frequently that you might expect, is that you end up with an almost perfect layout but where you end up trying to join either two male or two female ends together. We do have some short pieces that do this, but because of the standard lengths of the track pieces often they won't fit. When you have two male ends to fit together there is no alternative to a piece of track with two female ends, but when you want to join two female ends there is another solution. You could just have a very short pin with two male ends without the need for it to actually have any track, and hence it will have no length when fitted but will hold the two track pieces together.

Given that it must be a fairly common problem for everyone rather than designing something myself I had a quick look on Thingiverse to see if anyone else had already done the hard work for me. It turned out they had so I just downloaded the model and printed a bunch out on my resin printer.

As you can see the connector pieces weren't the only thing I printed. While hunting for the connector I came across an even more interesting piece that allows you to use Duplo to lift up the track meaning we could build longer raised sections than before, which Toby thought was a brilliant idea.

Whilst I love being able to experiment with new models quickly on the resin printer it is exceptionally great for parts like this. I'm sure if they were available commercially they would cost a lot more than the cost of the resin I used. Plus rather than waiting for them to be delivered I'd printed all of those within about three hours of starting (I did two print runs as not all of that would fit in the printer in one go). They were all printed flat on the build plate as well so the only clean up was washing off the excess resin.


  1. Looks a superb finish on these parts.

    1. That's the main advantage (as well as speed) of printing directly on the build plate as there are no supports to remove. The grey resin needs a slightly longer cure time than some other resins. The only down side is a slight elephants foot on the first few layers, but that is easy to file away. If I'd used the black water washable resin instead, which has a much lower cure time, they would have been even better straight from the printer, and would have printed faster. But that resin is more expensive, hence I thought I'd use up some of the grey I still had left.

  2. These look great Mark. Qualiy is very good. Two quick questions, does the printer produce a small when printing / curing? Can you safely use it in a normal room in the house?

    1. There is a smell but how bad it is varies depending on which brand of resin you use. The original green Anycubic resin that came with the printer smells horrible, but the resins from Elegoo smell a lot lot less. In fact the water washable resin from Elegoo has hardly any smell, plus it has the advantage of not needing IPA for the cleanup so less smell there as well.

      With the Elegoo resins I'm happy to sit a foot or so away from the printer while it works, although I do tend to make sure I have the window open as well just to be on the safe side.

      How much the smell bothers you may vary though. My wife finds the smell of all the resins I've tried quite horrible (even the ones I can hardly smell) so it's difficult to know for certain what you would think of the smell.