3-D Printing Technology
If you have questions about learning to print things in 3D, I've paid some of my dues! Hit me up. I currently have used FreeCAD to design parts, but find this is easier in eMachineShop (you can just use their software, it's a free download, you don't have to have them fabricate parts for you). Learning to draw on FreeCAD is not easy, unless you are already familiar with how these things work. You can also download files from Thingiverse and many other sites. With some practice, I was amazed at the quality of the windows I could create for the lighthouse models. Not quite as good as acetate injected molded, but for a custom-sized and designed window, this can't be beat. Printers are under $300 now. Both of these models shown below, the Creality Ender 3, and the AnyCubic Photon, are under $300. They are like the "Volkswagen Bugs" of 3D printers. I have had great results with them. We couldn't have done the job on the lighthouse the way we did if we didn't have these machines working for us (sometimes night & day!).
Designing and Printing Architectural Features
On these more complex windows, we did first have a wooden version. They each took about an hour. Makes my neck tired just looking at it. These are basswood, and as such they are neat, but the 3D printer really saved us (needed some 32 windows total for this building). I could go to bed, and wake up to a dozen or so frames and sashes that fit together perfectly. Not without practice.
We needed 16 feet of this fence. Not 16 scale feet, mind you. 16 real feet. It is 3/4 inch tall. The section of 17 pickets on the left is the basswood "prototype" we considered making as we thought real wood might be better for realism. I printed the same section and you can see there are little "circles", an artifact from the printing process, on each picket. However, I touched these up with a bit of paint/joint compound mixture. Voila! I didn't have to make 120 sections by hand. I made a few gates too. We did a running board in real basswood that connects 11" of combined fence sections. Then we added each 11" section to the diorama base. This was a 3 day job, probably down from a 4 week job if we had done it by hand.
I would like to share some of my FreeCAD and CURA files with you! Let me know if you think that would be of interest by emailing me. I may at some point just have them available here on the website. -Rog