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3D Printed Options for Winches, Other Deck Fittings

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  • Member since
    July 2020
3D Printed Options for Winches, Other Deck Fittings
Posted by ChiefEng on Sunday, July 12, 2020 2:49 PM

I'm looking for input on 1/350 and 1/192 scale mooring winches and other deck fittings, like bollards, fairleads, etc.  I've searched Shapeways but did not find anything that would work for modern merchant ships.  Does anyone have suggestions of these pieces in resin, brass, or 3D printed?

Further, I would be willing to outsource this to a shop that could either prepare files suitable for 3D printing, and/or also do the printing.  What is generally required to prepare these drawings/files?  I do have dimensioned drawings of these pieces in PDF.  These drawings are either from manufacturer's manuals or shipyard drawings for the same.

Bollards and bitts are not so difficult to scratchbuild, but winches/windlasses are something different altogether.  Scratchbuilding is possible, sure, though I believe modern technology could produce a better model than I am cabaple of piecing together on my own.


  • Member since
    August 2005
  • From: Mansfield, TX
Posted by EdGrune on Monday, July 13, 2020 6:26 PM

Look at the offerings of black cat models (   They have several sets of cable reels, draped hoses, and deck winches.   Black cat's offerings are better (IMO) than what you can get through Shapeways

If not specifically what you need, check with Ben at black cat to see what else he may have in the pipe or if your design data could  be used to create new products


  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Monday, July 13, 2020 7:09 PM

One thing I learned about fittings is that because they basically look the same in the real world whether large or small, the model parts usually are sold at their true sizes so you just do the math.

Im eager to see what your projects are.

Modeling is an excuse to buy books


  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Monday, July 13, 2020 7:54 PM

Welcome to the forum. Reading your bio, can't wait to pick up your advice.



Modeling is an excuse to buy books


  • Member since
    November 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Monday, July 13, 2020 7:55 PM

What is generally required to prepare these drawings/files? I do have dimensioned drawings of these pieces in PDF. These drawings are either from manufacturer's manuals or shipyard drawings for the same

Well, the output needs to be compatible with the 3D printer, which is usually some form of 3D file like stl (stereolithography) or the like.  The specific printer will have a number offormats from which it can accept files (and usually one preferred format).

Typically the source files need to be in a "solid" modeling format, like that output by SolidWorks, Inventor, or the like.  (Those files may need manipulation into the preferred printer format, if theyare not directly accepted.)

The printer format matters, too.the deposition printers which work by melting a filament buildup in layers, which can make ugly striations in the finished model at the limits of printing.  Or, you have to bias the print, byt tipping it in two axes so that very little of the model is parallel to the deposition plane

The resin printers which us UV light to solidify the resin are less prone to "ridging" but are not immune.  They, too, can work better with the model on a bias.

However that brings us to another item, "bridging" and "supports."  Parts without base supports need some sort of support to be cast.  This bridging is of fine material, but still has to be cleaned off the finished parts, which can be difficult as those parts near the dimensions of the supoorts.  (A plastic kit analogy would be "flash." )

What all that measn is that, at a certain point, you may need to build up the 3d print from parts for final assembly.

So, this stuff is complicated.  The current industry rus on hugely expensive printers in very short runs.  The models are very niche in that they tend to be very soecific, which wi why very few are available in a resellers market. 

Let's say I wanted to stockpile Fleter Square bridges in my shop.  Which scale?  1/700, 1/350, 1/150, 1/144, 1/96, or 1/72?  My price is going to be the same as your price from Shapeways, so, to make a profit, to pay it's way on my self, I have to charge more than the price you can pay online.  So, no sale.  I'm not coning to commit to a run of a hundred of these things, to, perhaps get a 5% knock off in price.  Hobby stuff, especially accessories wants about a 50% markup as it moty sits on shelves getting dusty, that's assuming I can afford to buy 100 unites at $120 each

Hopefully our member ModelMonkey, who is in the 3d print biz can weigh in here.

  • Member since
    July 2020
Posted by ChiefEng on Monday, July 13, 2020 8:19 PM
Thanks for the suggestion! Promising things on the website.
  • Member since
    July 2020
Posted by ChiefEng on Monday, July 13, 2020 8:20 PM
Oh boy...advice? Hope it's not about models. Tall order to live up to most of the other posters here!
  • Member since
    July 2020
Posted by ChiefEng on Monday, July 13, 2020 8:34 PM

Much appreciated, thank you.  I have tried to read up on 3D printing in the past, but honestly lose interest as I realize: I will not own a printer anytime soon; and honestly, my free time is limited to maybe 10-12 hours a week.  I do have no issues outsourcing the 3D design and printing in this case.  Cheap?  No.  But costs are relative when comparing against time and availability of other options (which in the case of modern merchant ship fittings, it's very limited).  In any event, the design work is a one-time investment, whereas I would expect to use the printed objects on many different models.

The choice of scales is also a good point.  1/350 and 1/700 are common ship model scales, but not the only ones for sure.  A few years back, I started working on plans to build the aft section of the ship I was working on in 1/48 scale.  At 32 metres width, this would be 666 millimetres in scale dimension.  The goal was to do a cutaway showing the machinery spaces and accommodation block, with all piping, electrical, and machinery in place.  The plans were about 75% complete, but I never got a chance to finish them, so they're filed away now.  This would have benefitted from 3D printed objects, and I was able to find many options on Shapeways.  But this gets into the R/C model territory.  The Maersk OSV group on Facebook is always good for inspiration, and their Shapeways page has great options for sale, but far too large for what I am now looking for.


  • Member since
    November 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 1:04 PM

I have tried to read up on 3D printing

Well, I have used MakerBot among others and have created 3D content.  The problem with "home" deposition printers is in the material avaialble for making the prints.  Get over 1/25 or so and quality is ok, really you are limited to around 1/16 or larger scales.

The resin tank systems are not bad at railroad scales, but you run into dimension limits.  Also, it's a laborious process.  The print can take hours.  Then you need to rinse it in isopropyl alcohol, then cure it under a UV lamp (and then have to clean up support filaments, too).  And, then you need to recover the unsued resin, store it, and clean all the tank and printing surfaces with iso, too.

With either, you are not likely to run off mmore than one or two copies in a day.

You generally want a bit more computer than the average laptop to run the 3d solid modeling software, so that's an expense, too.   And that 3d modeling wants some sophistication, too.  Our Pawel has some outstanding 3d models for tank interiors--but I've not seen them rendered in resin yet.

Now, the big outfits are using printers that cost about as much as an upscale truck does, each.  They schedule their prints to run in large batches, as they need economy of scale. 

When I see Kathy Millet or Luke Towan knocking out minatures in resin, it's impressive, particularly the time invested in each of the steps.

The "industry" offering parts is expanding.  And has amazing quantites of available parts.  I can remember, not so long ago, when the Shapeways catalog, under "Fletcher" had only one page of parts available.  Now, most of the parts are available in every modeling scale a Fletcher is offered in.

  • Member since
    February 2018
  • From: North Carolina, USA
Posted by Model Monkey on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 2:33 PM

There are some experienced professional designers for hire that would be happy to design fittings for you. Many have their own printers, too.  You can reach many on Shapeways 3D design request board.  Link:

As others have mentioned, all designers and all 3D printers are not created equal.  There are different technologies, too.  You'll see acronyms like FDM, SLA, etc. used to describe how the printer works.  And there are different materials, only some of which are useful for scale models. Wikipedia has some good descriptions of the differences.

I use a tech called SLA, which is associated with stereolithography.  Basically, a laser hardens liquid resin in a tank one layer at a time to create a model.  It's expensive and glacially slow.  But the results are amazing.

Other types involve extruding material like nylon through a nozzle.  That technique is relatively cheap.  But you get what you pay for.

Every printer has its strengths and weaknesses.  An Anycubic Photon 3D printer costs about $300 USD and many modelers find it useful.  Formlabs printers cost about $4000 USD and are very good.  Those are the kind I have (two Form 2s and a Form 3).  The next tier up can be represented by printers like the B9 Core 550.  They run about $12,000 USD.  They can print individual handrungs on a 1/350 scale turret.  Really.  But that printer has a very small build space, about 2 inches square, limiting its usefulness.

As was said above, to create the designs, you need good CAD software and a decent computer.  For CAD software, I recommend Fusion 360 by Autodesk.  It is powerful and customizable, hobbyists can get a renewable license for free, and there are loads of tutorials on Youtube to show you to use it.  It has settings and features specifically for 3D printing.

There are other software programs, too, that are better for beginners, like Tinkercad.  Delftship is free and good for designing ship hulls and aircraft fuselages.  Again, Youtube is full of tutorials for them.

Hope this helps.




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