Closing out 2016, we’re thrilled to be featuring Ethan Chodos as our last Designer Spotlight of the year. In his own words, “With so much negativity going on in the world, creating something unique and beautiful brings light into the world. I want to be part of that.” With this year having been so chaotic, we’re totally onboard with this mission!
Ethan’s Piece of Mind Design Shapeways shop is a lighthearted collection of game pieces, rings, and coffee mugs. Ethan takes inspiration from creative plays on words — and a few of his rescue pups. Check out our Q&A with him below for more details (and a super cute photo of his dogs).
You have a number of great, cheeky game pieces. How did you decide to model and design the ones you’ve done?
I wanted to create pieces that are unexpected, irreverent, thought-provoking and most of all, fun.
Knucklehead by Piece of Mind Design
Are these generally used as game pieces, desk toys, etc?
All of those things. My thought at the time was that they could be used in a game like Monopoly, make a cool chess set, or be placed on your desk as a gag “trophy”.
Are there any others in the works?
Right now I am focused on making cups and rings. Just like those original game pieces, I try to infuse my latest designs with the same qualities.
Train Kept A Rollin’ Ring- Size 12 (21.49 mm) by Piece of Mind Design
Your Hangin’ Pitbull Pendant is great and seems to have lots of fans.
I have four rescue dogs. Two are pitbulls. We all know they can get a bad rap. Yet, if you have one, you know how special they are. I just wanted to put that out there for my fellow dog lovers.
Hangin’ Pitbull by Piece of Mind Design
Love Ethan’s creations as much as we do? Check out his Shapeways shop to see the full line of game pieces, mugs, and rings.
Earlier this week, we showed you how to take 3D printed model trains from raw prints to gorgeous finished pieces. It’s all part of our holiday celebration of how our designers and makers bring Tiny Worlds to life. Two of the gorgeous trains we featured in that post were created by Alexander Clark of Boxcar Models.
CNSM 203 – 214 MD by Boxcar Models
Like many of our model train designers, Alexander’s pieces fill a need not met by the market — and his process for creating them has been a journey of discovery. “Railway modelers always want ‘that’ model that is not available commercially, and that’s how I got started… if I wanted them, I knew I was going to have to make them myself,” he told us.
This desire led him down the path of 3D design. “Having an engineering background, I knew my way around a drawing and knew how to use a computer, so I learned how to draw a model that could be 3D printed. I started simple and produced what is basically an electrical cabinet. From there, things just grew to more larger and complex models,” he added. Those models don’t come directly from Clark’s imagination, but they aren’t always easy to source: “If I am lucky there is an engineering drawing of the model. If not, I have to either measure the real thing or source endless photographs and make a best guess at dimensions.” That’s when the design work really begins.
When creating the designs themselves, he strives for maximum accuracy, opting to draw his models in true-to-life 1:1 dimensions. Using additive fabrication software Netfabb, he then checks his models for printability, making any necessary fixes manually before scaling them down for printing. The final tweaks come after, when he makes a few adjustments for the material design parameters, “so there has to be a bit of compromise between 100% accuracy and what will actually print.”
Amtrak Horizon Cafe V2 Doors by Boxcar Models
We’re grateful that Alexander took on this unusual design challenge. Boxcar Models’ exquisitely detailed coaches, freight cars, and accessories not only allow enthusiasts to find models that wouldn’t exist otherwise, they also make for utterly unique gifts for collectors looking for rarer-than-rare finds.
CNSM 250 – 255 Combine by Boxcar Models
Check out Alexander’s full range of trains and accessories in his Shapeways shop. And whether you’re looking to recreate the past through scale models or create mods for your favorite miniatures, don’t miss the trains, trucks, figurines, and more in the Tiny Worlds collections of our Holiday Gift Guide. Let us know how your holiday projects are shaping up in the comments.
For slot car enthusiasts, it once took complex custom mods to improve the performance of their racers — until 3D printing made it painless. As we continue to zoom in on the Tiny Worlds our designers bring to life, we’re taking a look at a maker who makes it easy to create perfect holiday gifts for the slot racers in your life.
1/32 Spirit BMW 2002 Chassis for Slot.it pod by OLIFER Performance Slot Car Parts
One of the most respected names in slot racing, Olifer Performance Slot Cars, began its life as Olifer Racing, a champion 1970s slot car team. A second generation of Olifer racers decided to share their know-how with other enthusiasts, choosing to offer 3D printed chassis, motor mounts, and dozens more accessories on Shapeways.
Long Can motor mount – Slot.it compatible by OLIFER Performance Slot Car Parts
Olifer’s accessories and modifications, like this 1/32 MRRC Chaparral 2F Chassis for Slot.it pod, work with many popular models. They also improve a car’s performance and speed while remaining easy to add — and remove — in minutes with a small screwdriver and allen key.
1/32 MRRC Chaparral 2F Chassis for Slot.it pod by OLIFER Performance Slot Car Parts
CNSM 741 – 776 Silverliner Series Coach by Box Car Models
The holidays always evoke nostalgia for family traditions. For my family, one of these traditions was to put a model train set around the base of the Christmas tree. It was that finishing touch that said the holidays were really here. This week, we’re offering gift ideas from all the Tiny Worlds our designers create, and I hope you’ll be inspired to make model trains a part of your family’s holiday traditions.
Shapeways offers an enormous variety of model trains that are as detailed as those you’d see on tracks around the world. But, 3D printed models do require a few finishing touches. Model trains are printed in a number of scales and sizes, and generally produced in Frosted Detail Plastic. The post-processing of these trains in Frosted Detail requires a few tools:
Acetone or Simple Green
Synthetic Paint Brush Set or Airbrush Kit
Acrylic or Enamel Paint
Matte or Satin Varnish
Once the tools are assembled, you are well on your way to getting your perfect model train ready.
1. Model Prep
If there is any residual oil or wax support material left over from the production process, this can easily be removed using acetone or Simple Green solvent. You can simply dip and air dry the model. Or, using a paint brush, you can lightly spread the solvent on the train and air dry.
**TIP** If you notice an excess amount of residual support material or details are distorted, this may call for a reprint. Please send an image and order number to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. First Coat – Prime
Primer is added as a first coat in order to provide a uniform surface and offer a stronger hold for your paints. Recommended primer colors include black, grey, or white. Your primer color selection will depend on the colors you decide for your top coat.
In order to keep the finest details visible, it is best to use a thin primer. For example, Krylon Color Master Primer will do the job.
Models can be painted in a variety of ways. The most common methods for painting a high-detail finish include airbrushing and hand-painting.
Airbrush painting is a great method for coating large areas of your design more quickly. This will require a fine-tip sprayer kit and masking to cover the areas that are not intended to be painted.
Hand-painting might be a bit more accessible to those who don’t want to invest in an airbrush kit. For this method, a range of small-sized synthetic brushes are recommended. The synthetic hairs do not fray, have a longer life span, and allow for finer points due to their stiffer structure.
With hand-painting, we suggest using acrylic or enamel model paints. First, add your larger base details using a larger brush. Then, with a smaller brush, use the lighter colors to make your details pop. Once painted, let the material dry completely before moving on to the next step.
4. Clear Coat
The final step to finishing your model train is to add a varnish. This will seal the paints and offer the appropriate sheen. Choose a matte or satin finish depending on your glossiness preference.
The varnish should be thinly applied and set to dry. Once dried, the model is ready to be displayed.
HO scale 1:87 CSX SD40-3 Wabtec Cab by Boxcar Models
This year, we hope you’ll make model trains a part of your holiday tradition, whether you make and give them as gifts or set them up for all to see. Who knows? Maybe hand-finishing model trains can be your new favorite family holiday pastime.
As we take a deep dive this week into the Tiny Worlds our makers bring to life on Shapeways, we’re taking a closer look at a designer whose miniatures add dimension to tabletop gaming. Dmitry Ustinov of Forpost D6 Miniatures focuses on Warhammer, 40000 Mordheim, and Necromunda, designing incredible characters, tiny accessories (from milk jugs to helmets), cannons, and war vehicles.
1/100, 1877 de Bange cannon, 155mm by Forpost D6
How do you find inspiration for your more creative models?
In the first place, I look for models that are in-demand by miniatures collectors and game players. Most of my models I originally created for myself and some were made at the request of other people. It’s an interesting challenge — to combine the desired appearance, printability and practical shape-form. Many good ideas come from searching custom models, which are produced by conventional methods such as resin casting. Some models were quite simple to remake using 3D modeling, and some (such as people’s faces and bodies) become challenging. Of course, when you hold the printed model in your hands, you get a better idea of how to improve the design and which new products will turn out better next time. Sometimes users of Shapeways suggest interesting ideas, but it’s difficult to make the designs by myself and I have to hire third-party modelers. I’ve commissioned designs of Cultist Chan, for example.
What’s your process behind creating miniature tanks? Do you base them on historical models?
The process of model tank design begins with a studying of the drawings, blueprints, and photographs. To begin, you have to determine the size of the vehicle which depends on material consumption and the amount of detalization. I usually make the body hollow and without a bottom panel to reduce the cost of production. Some tanks I design with movable turrets, but in a small scale, this is usually not required. The main problem is the representing of machine gun barrels because printing rules requires them to be thick. But otherwise, 3D printing technology competes with the traditional casting process.
For the majority of “railroad” scales such as 1/220, 1/160, 1/144, I do historically accurate models. For tabletop scales such as 15mm and 28mm I mostly make fictional vehicles.
1/144 Renault FT tank (3 pieces) by Forpost D6
You said you have a long to-do list of requests from people. What are some of the most popular requests you get?
I get a lot of requests to make a model on a different scale. So now I’m trying to publish a design at multiple scales. I’m often asked to make a head to create an unusual conversion for their Warhammer 40k Imperial Guard armies. Also, they ask to make weapons for action figures. A long list consists of requested historic tanks and artillery pieces. Sometimes people need to alter the model for easy copy-casting.
One of your models is not like the others. What’s the story behind Peter the Piglet and his tractor?
I am interested in challenging myself in different subjects, not just miniatures. I have noticed that there are popular memes printed in colored sandstone. Peter the Piglet is one of the Russian internet memes. It was originally a character from a children’s book, to which a blogger came up with their own story, changing the essence of what is happening in the pictures. Somehow, one of the pictures became widely spread among Internet users. Thus the image of a piglet Peter has become a symbol of the emigrant who leaves their country for whatever reasons (political, economic), taking with him something of value (in this case, the tractor).
Peter the Piglet and His Tractor by Forpost D6
Discover more miniatures in the Tiny Worlds collections in our Holiday Gift Guide. And, to learn more about miniatures in general, Dmitry suggests joining the Facebook group where folks share game and collector miniatures available on Shapeways. Members not only share their own creations but also post things they’ve found while clicking around the site. We also encourage you to check out the array of awesome miniatures in Dmitry’s Shapeways shop.
It’s like traveling back in time. Or shapeshifting into a much tinier form. Miniatures are empowering and magical, and they capture our imagination like almost nothing else. Whether it’s a scale model of a train that hasn’t existed since the 19th century, a reborn dinosaur that stalks your desktop, a lightning-fast slot car, or a micro-scale camper and tent setup just like the one Dad used to have. This week in our Holiday Gift Guide, we’re celebrating the Tiny Worlds you bring to life, and helping you share the miniatures magic with your loved ones this holiday season. Read on for four ways to make the little things count this year.
More than just perfect gifts for imaginative loved ones, many of the creations featured this week wouldn’t exist were it not for the ingenuity of our community of designers. With their incredibly detailed scale models, Shapeways designers are miniaturizing things that have never before been recreated, satisfying unique interests in ways that would never have been possible without 3D printing. Discover more of their Tiny Worlds in our Holiday Gift Guide, and let us know in the comments what scale models you want to see more of on Shapeways.
Gavin Rose of Sparkshot Custom Creations has been interested in British outline railways since a very early age and has been making models since he was 12 years old. Almost 20 years later, he’s still at it, now with the help of 3D design and 3D printing. Gavin does a tremendous job of leveraging 3D printing to create model trains that are otherwise unavailable through mass-manufactured models.
How’d you get into 3D modeling of trains?
Prior to doing 3D modeling I used to (and still do) railway modeling the usual ways — build kits or ‘bash’ them — modifying them to represent a different version of an engine, either real or theoretical. Before this, I dabbled in military modeling, but the bug has always been for railways more than anything. Amongst a few other things, 3D printing creates the opportunity for me (and you!) to now own models of railway prototypes the mainstream firms haven’t created. You have to buy your own wheels, motors and bits for the printed model but once done, it’s great to see the engine you’ve always longed for pottering about on a layout.
You mention that models of railway prototypes you’re building aren’t available from mainstream firms. Tell us about that and what you’re focusing on.
Most of the mainstream Ready to Run (RTR) manufacturers concentrate on the latter British Railways (BR) period of railway history and I can only estimate this is because most of the people alive today remember that period, and not earlier. As such, nostalgia has its power well established in BR territory, which undoubtedly is the reason that the mainstream companies cater to BR models. This means that newcomers to the hobby end up with a choice that is predominantly BR so sales of those products increase, mainstream companies keep making them … and so the cycle continues.
There’s nothing wrong with BR, but the post-Grouping (and especially pre-Grouping) suffers dreadfully, and many locomotive classes aren’t given any attention while the popular ones are redone over and over and over. This is a shame, and along with it goes some of the history and knowledge of what our railways looked like, once upon a time. If more people were to model the earlier periods we could hopefully get back to some degree and accurate portrayal of what was once lost and my hope is that 3D printing will help to bring the past back to the present. Currently Sparkshot Custom Creations is concentrating on the earlier periods, so keep an eye out.
We love that you’re using modern-day manufacturing to bring back the past! Tell us more about how you design these unique models.
For customization, I have done a series of variants of most of the locomotive classes. Some are real variants, but a lot are freelance also to enable me and anyone who is inclined to model certain things in a more theoretical rather than factual way. Obvious detail variations are the most important such as the standard VS extended tank E2 and the various chimneys some engines ran with. The new-to-the-SCC range Furness J1 class has a separate pack of chimneys to order that allow the engine to take on different guises, the simple change in chimney can make all the difference. People have asked me to make a few alterations here and there and I have done it; the creation of the Cambrian Class 61 was due to consultation to give the Furness K2 some alterations but the work became more elaborate than originally envisioned as research continued. It has however produced a new loco choice all together, so all good!
At the time of this interview, the next engine to be completed and released for sale will be the Furness Railway J1 Class. There is already a Furness Railway 21 Class that’s also known as the K2 available in several variants, so for the meantime, I’m concentrating on this particular railway company and then will move on to another.
Check out Gavin’s incredible model train designs in his shop here. He’s created some videos on post-processing his models here and here if you’re looking for a glance into his methods.
He’s also requested that if anyone has built, painted, and are running his creations on a model railway, to please send him photos or video. As Gavin says, “I’d very much like to see what people do with the kits, there’s something quite ‘happifying’ seeing your own designs all completed by another!”
Earlier this year, we launched Black High Definition Acrylate to our community. The material was such a success, we saw amazing scale model planes, miniature figurines and cool science fiction characters. Our makers were so enthusiastic that we had to rapidly expand capacity to meet demand. Since then, we tested the material to the limits and learned how to make it better through feedback from the community. We are now ready to open B-HDA up for shop owners to make this material available to their customers.
Designers from From left to right: Hereforge, Decapod, Max Grueter
While we expand this material offering, we also wanted to share some changes to our design guidelines based on what we have learned is possible and what is more difficult to print consistently. Updating the design guidelines was important in order to provide more reliable and higher quality prints to shop owner’s customers.
For B-HDA, the design guidelines are driven by the printing process. B-HDA uses Direct Light Projection technology where light is projected through a liquid resin which solidifies each layer of a design on a build platform. As the platform moves up, the next layer is cured by the projected light. To secure your model to the build platform and support overhangs, intertwined toothpick-sized scaffolds are printed to reinforce your structure. Since the support structures are the same as the material of the model, they are carefully removed by cutting and can make certain thin walls/wires or complex geometries more difficult to process.
Test model for wires in Black High Definition Acrylate
We found that unsupported wires should be a minimum of 0.7 mm thick and supported wires should be a minimum of 0.8 mm thick for wires less than 35 mm in length. This is determined by our ability to successfully break away support material and clean your model. Wires that are too thin will break during post processing. As wires get longer, they typically need to be thicker in order to maintain their strength. We recommend making your wires 0.1 mm thicker for every additional 20 mm in length over 35 mm to ensure we can post process it without breakage.
Test model for wall thickness
We added similar guidelines for wall thickness. Walls under 5 mm in length should be a minimum of 0.5 mm thick. For every additional 20 mm in length over 5 mm, we recommend making supported walls 0.2 mm thicker and unsupported walls 0.25 mm thicker. The minimum wall thickness is determined by our ability to successfully remove support material without breaking your model and prevent the model from warping.
Finally for hollow models we added a requirement of at least 2 escape holes with a minimum diameter of 6 mm each per interior cavity. Escape holes are important for us to be able to clean the inside of the model and remove any uncured resin.
Designs by Heroforge
Black High Definition Acrylate has been a smash hit material for scale models and prototypes because of its high detail and smooth surface. It looks great right out of the printer, but also takes well to painting and post-processing. It’s flexible and durable. We have seen some incredible products in our factories and can’t wait to see what shop owners are going to make available for sale.
For this Tiny Tuesday, we’re highlighting Ellen Mueller because we’ve fallen in love with her tiny depictions of office life.
Ellen is an internationally exhibited interdisciplinary artist who explores the everyday challenge of living with hyperactive news media and corporate management systems. She creates experiences that engage with social and political issues through imagery, performance, and installation.
While Ellen’s Shapeways shop reminds us a bit of Office Space (particularly this little stapler in red), a number of her designs are part of a cheeky, in-progress 3D print-on-demand sculptural street art project, she’s called Synergism. Each cluster of office-related objects is designed to fit into corner-shaped spaces– and Ellen is encouraging participants to print these subtle sculptures, and install them on office buildings they feel could spontaneously start leaking bureaucracy (DMVs, corporate headquarters, office parks, etc). Note: we’re not endorsing that anyone glue something to anything that doesn’t belong to you. Each design is 3D modeled in SketchUp and is defaulted to print in matte bronze steel. Ellen chose this particular material because of its connotations with other large-scale recognizable public sculptures, whether life-size portraits of politicians or members of military on horseback.
She currently works as an Assistant Professor of Art at West Virginia Wesleyan College, and while the school doesn’t have its own 3D printer, she uses Shapeways to give 3D printing access to her students. Side note: if you haven’t noticed, we’re all about students using our services!
We’re also particularly loving that while Ellen’s creating some incredible miniatures, she has some ideas for bigger, better tiny things if 3D printing limitations weren’t an issue, saying, “I would print tiny houses that are really well insulated. I think it would save a lot of energy.”
ATTENTION South Park super fans, technophiles and collectible geeks – South Park Studios have joined the Shapeways community and has opened their very own South Park Shop! For the first time you will be able to purchase some of your favorite South Park characters – in physical form.
The collector-inspired character line is printed in full-color sandstone and the shop will feature year-round introductions of new and old characters. South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have hand signed a limited number of Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman figurines which select fans, who purchase the full set, will have an opportunity to win in these first two weeks of the South Park shop opening here at Shapeways. (contest rules below)
So what inspired South Park Studios to join the Shapeways community? To celebrate their 20th season of South Park of course! Fans around the world have continued to connect with the virtual world of South Park for two decades and now digital manufacturing can bring South Park out of the screen and into our physical world in a unique and dynamic way episode after episode.
3D Printing can offer a wealth of benefits including real time customization for fans and direct interaction with the brand. The South Park shop on Shapeways is the inaugural partnership with Source 3, South Park Studios and White Clouds.
Kudos to Viacom and South Park Studios for embracing 3D technology by setting an example in the industry and forging a stronger relationships with their fans.
You’re zooming down the Hutchinson River Parkway doing twice the posted speed limit because the road’s been closed for your driving pleasure. You’re pushing every S-curve and cutting every apex, being sure to avoid the (inevitable) potholes that line this otherwise fast-paced road in upstate New York. Until….
You’re snapped out of your daydream, you glance over at the model of your classic 911 on your desk, just itching for the weekend.
Today’s your day; Collector Car Appreciation Day (Or, if you’re on Twitter, #CollectorCarAppreciationDay). Here’s a few ways to remember the sleek lines and impeccable engineering that went into your favorites.
It’s no doubt that the Porsche 911 is one of the most iconic shapes in history. So many people think “german engineered sports car” and immediately picture the once-air-cooled, rear-engined masterpiece. Remind yourself what it looks like under a delicate sheet in your garage, with this model by MakeAndModel
Maybe you FINALLY got around to upgrading your turbo in your newly imported Skyline. While these turbo cufflinks by Leander won’t help compress your waist to look thinner, you’ll be reminded why you spent those nights and weekends working on your R33 while out on the town.
The E30 M3 is, and will continue to be a near perfectly balanced sports car that remains a classic piece of BMW history. You deserve to constantly remind yourself of the hard work you put in not only finding your near one-of-a-kind legend, but also be able to show what you own with this keychain.
But this isn’t all we’ve got for Collector Car Appreciation day, dive deeper in clicking the button below and search our site for your favorite automotive masterpiece.
Someday scientists will truly understand what it is about elegant objects at a tiny scale that makes us so happy. Until that mystery is solved let’s just enjoy this beautiful set of 1:48 scale furniture, hand-selected to perfectly decorate your 1:48 scale living room in time for that 1:48 scale cocktail party you’ve been planning.
Let’s stage the room with this incredible set of Queen Anne furniture. Imagine they’re wedding gifts from your rich 1:48th scale aunt.
There is no better way to entertain your 1:48th scale party guests than to serenade them on this beautiful grand piano.
Of course you can’t set your 1:48th scale old fashioned cocktail on that antique piano, so you’ll need this nice little stand to put it on while you perform.
Finally, while you play you can sit your little 1:48th scale tail on this matching piano bench. Bravo! Bravo!
Shapeways is home to many types of products, from Jewelry to Drones to accessories for wearable tech, but we’ve become a very special place for a particular community; scale model railroads. From Z to O scale, Shapeways is host to an ever expanding universe of charmingly miniature user created trains and scenery for railroad layouts.
Railroad modellers use 3D printed parts to embellish elaborate and realistic worlds at a particular scale. Once the parts are printed, they often assemble and paint them like the example below.
Here is a list of the best selling parts for model railroads so far in 2016
One of our favorite things about 3D printing is the way that it connects people. Greg King, a model train maker from Australia was so impressed by his visit to the Japanese streetcar manufacturer Kagoshima that he used Shapeways to help make him a replica of one of their historic cars.
“I just got back from Japan. I had made a model of a Kagoshima streetcar for the manager of the streetcar operation there. He had shown me a great time, and accorded me a great honour, so when I got home I built a model from scratch.”
“When finished, I could not trust it to the mail service, so it was an excuse to go back (we had frequent flyer points to pay for the flight), see some more of that wonderful country and measure some streetcars for future 3D work.”
“My friend made an appointment with the manager (who knew nothing about the model but was just happy to see me again) and we met at their new car house and head office complex. We went into a room that they have made into a museum collection of parts, history and photos with a small N scale diorama of the old car house.”
“I then presented the model to him. He was amazed to say the least, BUT he thought I had made it for the museum until he read the plaque I had put on it; he almost cried and just about snapped in half with the bowing. Shortly after I was allowed to run one of their streetcars!”
We love to hear stories about how the Shapeways Community uses 3D printing to brighten another’s day. Have you given the gift of 3D printing? Let us know in the comments below. For more model train parts check out our marketplace here.
Not knowing what to expect, I was absolutely floored when I walked up the narrow staircase and through the door covered in railroad signs. The HO scale railroad doesn’t take up much space square-footage wise, but the level of detail is staggering. Every inch of the diorama, set in a depression era New England, drips with attention to detail.
I was told to go check out the Franklin & South Manchester Railroad in nearby Peabody, Massachusetts, when giving a clinic on 3D printing at the Fine Scale Model Train Expo last week (more about that here). Created by George Sellios, this HO scale railroad has been a work in progress for over 30 years.
The well weathered, HO scale kits have remarkable realism. Every figure–and there must be thousands of them–is busy engaging in their lives, working, playing or relaxing. They appear to be interacting and as I looked closer, I started to find wonderful little narratives. The more time I spent wandering the layout, the more I noticed clever little details, humorous characters and Easter eggs (yes, dyed Easter eggs). George has artistic touches sprinkled throughout his railroad, some for fun and some deeply personal.
After seeing the Franklin & South Manchester Railroad, I completely feel the passion that our community has for model railroading. This work is a lifetime achievement. Check out the video below for a short interview with George Sellios and a look at the full railroad set-up.
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