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A 3D-printed roller coaster scale model

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American engineer Dan Fritsche has built a fully functional model of a roller coaster (scale 1:35). The project took around 600 hours to design and model (in Fusion 360) and around 800 more to 3D print, and this is without taking post-processing and assembling into account. And here are the results. 

Dan Fritsche is closely familiar with roller coasters, he has been interested in them since he was a kid: he rode the Millenium Force roller coaster at the age of 7. It’s a large amusement ride reaching the height of 91 meters (almost 300 feet) and located in Ohio. This is when he learned about the existence of the companies specializing in design and manufacturing amusement rides and attractions. In 2019, he graduated from the Iowa State University of Science and Technology with a mechanical engineering degree and went through a 7-month long internship at Premier Rides, an amusement rides developer focused on roller coasters.

Dan continues to dream about having a fully-fledged career in a company like this. He also started making functional scale models of roller coasters in his spare time. The ready-made constructor sets were not realistic enough for him, so Dan Fritsche started 3D printing the models by himself. 

The image shows a scale model of a roller coaster that doesn’t copy any existing amusement rides: Dan has designed it on his own.He was inspired by Matt Schmotzer, who made an impressive 3D printed scale model of a roller coaster. And this is how Dan got into additive manufacturing. 

He started designing a ride itself after managing to make a functional train model: it took three tries since it required experimenting with flexibility. The roller coaster’s track was designed in Fusion 360. According to him, the process is both simple and labor-intensive: it took around 600 hours to model a track, trains, supports, platforms and mechanisms.

An improved trolleys made with the Original Prusa i3 MK3S+ 3D printer
An improved trolleys made with the Original Prusa i3 MK3S+ 3D printer

3D printing took even longer: 2983 components were printed in more than 800 hours of operation. The Creality CR-10 3D printer was used, as well as seven filament spools. It is likely that print time could be reduced by the use of large-format 3D printers. For example, the Optimus P-1 features a build volume of 600 x 600 x 1,100 mm. It’s also important to add 35 hours to post-processing and fitting, 20 hours of assembling just one train and 10 more to find out and solve the issues. An improved and more detailed version is in the works, it will be 3D printed with the Original Prusa i3 MK3S+. 

The ride is powered by the Arduino Uno board, 5 small servo motors and one D. C. electric motor that control a launcher, breaking and even realistic moving gates. The only thing lacking is miniature human models.

The result of all of the work can be seen on the video below, as well as detailed description of the production process. Dan is currently working on his own website dedicated to the project. 

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