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I'm not saying making a distinction between customizers and clone brands is entirely rational, but even so, it's certainly not rational to act as if there are NO differences between a customizer like BrickForge and a clone brand like Mega Bloks, just because they're both in it for profit and they're both "not real LEGO". It shouldn't be surprising that some people would rather do business with fellow LEGO fans than the LEGO Group's more direct rivals.
I also wasn't speaking about these monorail segments or the people making them specifically, but rather about customizers in general. I hadn't even looked at what these monorail parts cost, and for that matter I have no idea what they SHOULD cost. 3D printing costs can vary depending on whether you print the parts yourself or hire it out to an external company like Shapeways, and also there's economies of scale to consider.
$41.00 - motor
$2.50 - battery box
$3.50 - base (x2)
$10.50 - bogies (x2)
$3.00 - wire
Throw in a circle of track and 2 start/stops for an extra $20 or so total (curves are much cheaper), and it'd be around $95, maybe? So, figure $100 all told to make something really basic?
With that said, you either get the monorail or you don't. It's fun but nostalgia for retro-futurism is probably what drives the AFOL aftermarket. And If you've been in this hobby for awhile now and you haven't been bitten by the monorail bug then you're probably just not cool enough ; )
They are taking away business from genuine lego part sellers though so of course there will be a backlash against them pointing out for example the apparently poor quality of the finish, the lack of long term quality testing, lack of resale value, etc that buying genuine lego parts gives.
About the sound, there is indeed a strange noise at 4:39 when it goes onto the first 3D printed track. I have no idea what that is, but it doesn’t sound like the track to me. Note that at 4 :42 when the train goes over the second 3D printed track you don’t have that sound. When the train comes back at 5:08 you don’t hear that sound either. At 5:14 MRN Bricks confirms that ‘there is no change in the tone or anything’. There is a discussion on EuroBricks on the sound as well, there another customer confirms that he cannot hear a difference.
I just want to be open and honest so people know what they get: If you want a rail that looks perfect from close by, then stick to second hand LEGO rails. However, if you’re looking for a lower price alternative that blends in from a distance and works well; these rails are a good option. That’s MRN Bricks message as well.
Here is a mix of 4DBrix and original tracks
You can see it on our video
Interesting example! However, I don’t think it’s possible to 3D print this at a completive price at this point. You need to both consider the cost of the initial print and post processing (removing the support structures for example). So it doesn’t make sense to 3D print it at this point, but I’m sure one day it will be…
Yeah, I passed on monorail for a LONG time, figuring I was better off NOT having any. But then I received 6990 as a gift in 2005, and I was hooked. I managed to stop buying more when I finally got more track than you'd own if you bought 1 of each monorail set. ... But I still have to restrain myself when buying on BrickLink from a store that has any in stock!
As for the 4DBrix versions, I have to say I'm more intrigued by the non-standard elements like the ramp extenders, and possibilities for other designs that LEGO won't ever make. I'd consider wider curve radius track and 45-degree angle track, too. But the normal stuff I've got enough of, myself.
Of course, there's also the REALLY cool stuff like the self-correcting cross-track. Obviously, that's way out of scope, since it requires some internal mechanics, but I might go for that, too. And I could imagine other wacky things like a large-scale roundhouse turntable for switching tracks (but that'd be huge). Or a 3-way switch rather than just 2-way, or a 2-way switch with both sides curved, rather than one straight and one curved.
Oh, or maybe a "track ender" piece that ends the track more gracefully? You could even have a non-toothed rail in the center, where the motor could NOT grip, so that it DEFINITELY, ABSOLUTELY, COULD NOT JUMP OFF THE END OF THE RAIL (because that's definitely a thing). That doesn't need mechanics, so it's probably feasible (although it would be handy if you had a connection point to attach the "stopper" mechanism that LEGO already has).
Ok, I'll stop now.
Thanks for your input, it helps us with prioritizing! Actually, you'd be surprised of what we can do with 3D printing! Most of what we are working on have an internal mechanism - you can check our train track switch motor on our website for example...
Actually, what might also be interesting (while I'm in brainstorming mode) might be a "short" version of the monorail base. I know I've occasionally wanted to make a shorter car, and have only used a single side for a smaller vehicle.
So, they've got the funny ends for connecting to the existing half-curves and switches, but they can be inserted and still line up on the grid.
I get mocked by some AFOLs for running ME-Models track, which looks pretty damn perfect. Goodness knows how much I'd get mocked for using 3D-printed monorail track which looks, shall we say, less than perfect close up.
Oh and on the 'purist' debate, I'm of the opinion that if it fills a niche and Lego have never made it, I'm willing to give it a shot - for example ME Models' wide radius track, and Big Ben Bricks' XL train driver wheels.
If Lego make it, then it's a clone, and I won't use it.
In terms of this monorail track, that's a bit more of a grey area. I'm not into monorail, but if I was, I'd probably buy third-party track if it was injection-molded and the quality was good, but only because I know that Lego will never ever produce those specific elements again, and don't produce any alternatives either. The quality of 3D printed stuff is just too low for my liking though.
Any plans to make standalone motors and such? I would love for them to become commonplace enough to be used at Brickfair competitions.
I only use the ME-Models non-standard wide-radius track.
In the video I controlled the motors by tapping on a tile in our control software. For fully automated operation you need 'train detection sensors'. You can see a prototype of that on your website, but we haven't yet tried to combine everything to have a fully automated cross switch, but eventually that will be possible.
We aim to make all our designs fully compatible with LEGO and allowing multiple ways to control them: manually, motorized and computer controlled.
If I can give you a piece of advise on how to win over a lot of motor fans- buy a Technic buggy motor, and match or exceed that in performance. It is the most sought-after technic motors.
If the value is over £15, including shipping, then VAT is due - and the instant that happens, the handling fee is charged. If the item is a gift, the limit is higher at £34. If the value's over £135, then customs duty (plus VAT on it!) is also charged. The only vaguely-positive note is that the handling fee doesn't increase.
It doesn't help to send multiple packages either - they add the values together if they realise that's what's happened.
It is sometimes possible for the sender to pay everything in advance, but that depends on the country and which carriers are involved in the trunk and local deliveries. Whether it's worth it still comes down to what those companies will charge. DHL in the US probably uses DHL in the UK, but it can get complicated working out who in one country uses who in another - and what each will charge for advance payment as opposed to payment on collection or delivery.
If a parcel arrives in the UK without the fees having already been paid, I believe DHL are actually even more expensive than Royal Mail.
I think most people don't bother and leave it to the buyer to sort it out, simply because there are so many different rates which for which you then have to include in their charges. And as it's no cheaper, some buyers like to play roulette with whether they actually get charged or not.
That's 40p saved, and the preciouses in my handsies...
This would mean an increase in cost for the extra part but would mean the pegs would be much less likely to snap, like one of mine did last night. Alternatively, having the cross bar moulded rather than printed would resolve the issue, as a better design could be used using a Technic pin style connector, and be much more sturdy.