I am looking into 3D printing myself, initially for small parts that just either do not exist or no longer exist and attract hefty eBay prices.
But one of the things I am looking at specifically is doing it myself given that consumer units are available at likes of certain office supply warehouse. I do realise I am still looking at significant dollars.
Has this been a consideration - bring design and production into your own workshop(s)?
Yes I am toying with this idea...
My work place has a very high end 3D printer that is no longer used and will sometime in the near future will be disposed of. The printer originally cost $180,000 installed. Yes installed, it is not just something that you can take out of a box (like an inkjet printer) and placed on a table. It is a very big machine and needs to be professionally placed into packaging to move, and then installed at the final position. It also has a "bath" for washing off the waste material.
This is a serious piece of work. The resolution is in microns and can make curved surfaces very well without the obvious "stepping". However, you can still see the layering as the models are "laid down". A hole heap of different materials are available including using multiple materials in the one build. One item I saw was a truck built with rubber tyres!
So, I am thinking about buying this and if it can be purchased for the "right" amount, then perhaps I'll have a very powerful modelling tool. (In the good 'ol days, it would have been a couple of slabs of beer and a friends ute!
)DTHead... To me there is the second need, skill to design the object on the computer as well
Well actually, this is the MOST important aspect! ANY model made is only as good as the CAD design. How any model is designed is crucial to the process. In a sense, any 3D printer, is just like a hammer. Only as good as the person knocking the nail in...
Will I get the printer? who knows. If the price is right, If I can get good enough (well frankly, has to be EXCELLENT) design skills. I don't know. One show stopper is that the printer needs to be professionally placed into transport mode and then re-installed. If this is not done, then it becomes an expensive piece of paper weight.
SO, I am fairly certain the "hobby" 3D printers are most likely not going to cut the mustard, it seems clear to me that for HO-scale (or larger), you really need as good a print as possible.
Good luck with your 3D efforts!