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Hey everyone! So I've had access to 3D printers for basically the past four years in my lab and around school (and will still have access to them with grad school), but it only recently occurred to me to make roller coaster track. I don't really know why I hadn't pursued it sooner; I think it was part not having time and part not having a reliable way to get the track dimensions and, with me being keen on details like that, I didn't want to start if it wasn't going to be perfect. I also knew that I wanted to start with the Loch Ness Monster but trying to make nice-looking loops was maddening. Both of those issues were solved. I came up with a way to get the relative sizes--NoLimits2. As seen below, I made short sections of track in the side, top, and front orientations and then viewed it from the front in the NoLimits editor. After screenshotting it, I could pull the image into Solidworks and trace over the track (each pixel is 1mm in the software). A little massaging to make the numbers nice, and I have the cross-section for the track!


The loop issue was solved by writing Matlab code that spat out an array of xyz points for a loop based on several parameters (height, shaping--like clothoid, initial speed, g-force, etc.). These could then be imported into Solidworks for the curve along which I could make a sweep for the track.


All of the other dimensions were just culled from pictures of the ride. Like I said, I started with the loops of the Loch Ness Monster (which I am waiting to print) and am currently working on the lift hill of Intimidator305. I figured that I could do the iconic parts of rides and paint them to have little desktop models. If anyone happens to know the specific colors of rides (like the track of LNM is Caution Yellow), that'd be helpful at least for the models.


I'll update when I print them!











I got no idea why the bottom two sections are all shiny. They have the same appearance set as the other sections.

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This could be fantastic. I also have access to a 3d Printer at my school, and I was also thinking of doing this. I have zero experience with it though. Can you not just export the track into sketchup and then 3d print it from sketchup? Or do you have to use a specific program to print it? Also, in the renderings did you model those yourself because that's seriously impressive! Or did you just export from Nl2 or some other program?

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^Yeah that's what I thought. I figured I'd start with a) something from one of my home parks, b) one of the most iconic coasters ever, and c) something that would show off the flexibility of the 3D printers.


^^I did all the models by hand in Solidworks, which, boiled-down, is basically a much, much more advanced version of Sketchup. 3D printers need a specific file type (.stl) and I'm not sure whether Sketchup is capable of exporting them. In any case, Solidworks is a better option for this stuff anyway. It'd be really hard (if not impossible) to accomplish the same stuff in Sketchup.


Here are some of track dimensions.



Arrow Track


Dive Machine


Intamin Double Spine

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I just started printing one of the loops for Loch Ness. It will be done in...approximately 12 hours... Anyway, I think I'm going to do Top Thrill Dragster next. Last weekend's trip reminded me how much I love that ride. If anyone else has one in particular they'd like to see done, I'd be happy to check it out. Eventually I'm also going to do the drop on Griffon. I tried (for like five seconds) but stopped because I couldn't get the shaping right and wanted to do I305.

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Sorry for the delay! I was on vacation last week and didn't have a chance to dissolve the support material before I left. Here is a photo of the track pieces and supports. I decided that this model is only going to be a loop; this can be the test run. It's a lot bigger than I expected for a desktop model, and 3D printing the other parts of the Loch Ness Model would be kind of prohibitive at this size.


That said, it still does look pretty cool, and I hope to print a smaller version of the whole model soon. I should also have an update for this model pretty soon too! The second picture is just all the pieces balanced; nothing is glued yet.





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Someone suggested a Goliath, I am currently working (just started about 2 hours ago) on a model. Obviously I am missing a lot (cross ties, handrail, the step on the two columns), but I will do those soon. I am not sure if this will be able to be 3D printed because of the small pieces on the inside, but hopefully it will be done in a couple days.


Missing the large steps, as well as the track on the inversion, I am only going to do the track on the inversion, for simplicity's sake.



Need to detail these a little more, but that will come later!

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^Nice! That look really cool! What program are you using?


The model's surface isn't a super nice finish. Because the printers print the model layer by layer, the orientation of the part plays a large role in the surface finish. In the xy plane, you can get perfect circles because the resolution in those directions is very small. The z resolution is much more limited, so printing a circle in that direction will result in a less-than-deal print because of the layers (particularly in smaller circles with high curvature). Hopefully the picture below helps a bit. Anyway, because the shape is so complicated there really is any great way to print them, so some parts are better than others. There is a way to smooth it out using an acetone vapor bath (which melts the surface of the model giving it a glossy look), but I haven't ever used it and was nervous to try because it will get rid of small details and some of the pieces are really small (like the crossties).


Anyway, I also made the drop on Griffon! Once school starts I'll hopefully have much better access to the printers and be able to work on it more often.


So if you were to print a cylinder, you could print it in one of two orientations. Option A would be preferable because you get a perfect circle in the direction that matters. Option B results in an approximate circle because the resolution is not as good. Because the loop changes orientation there wasn't really an optimal way to print it from a structural standpoint (though I realized later that the crossties are very weak because of how I printed them), so I just minimized material and time. The supports ideal orientation is vertical (like A) but I actually printed them in B to save time and material. The curvature is also large enough that it doesn't make much of a difference either.


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