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"Age of 3D Printers" Topic

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1,970 hits since 27 Sep 2012
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Petrov Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 8:24 a.m. PST

I was pondering recently. 3D printers are becoming more and more common. Soon we will be able to go to TMP download some terrain print it and paint and bang! Instant Normandy village!
The 3D printers are getting cheaper and cheaper every day.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2012 8:34 a.m. PST

Not THAT cheap… grin
And you still have to buy the resin and the pattern.

Call me when the 3D printers paint it too.

I think we are more likely to see guys sneak it in at the office.

Petrov Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 8:52 a.m. PST

500$ if you know how to assemble. Raw materials for 3d printers are pretty cheap.

jameshammyhamilton Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 9:01 a.m. PST

There are printers that will 'print' you a full colour 3D model that could be used straight away. Sadly the printer is very expensive IIRC the one I saw printed house from was £30.00 GBPK plus and the print cost works out at about £15.00 GBP per house.

However equivalent printers are getting cheaper and as they become more common the materials will also come down in cost.

Personal logo Miniatureships Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Sep 2012 9:07 a.m. PST

Questions about $500.00 USD printers

1. What will you be able to do? Basically, what is the level of complexity will it allow.

2. How big of an object will you be able to print?

3. What will be the quality of the item that you are having printed?

I have seen several 3D printers on kickstarter. One, the video never showed it in total operational mode. Basically, I saw the machine move one way, but never back and forth. The second one I saw on Kickstarter at least showed the whole thing in operation.

I do like the fact that the bottom price is a "KIT", meaning someone who knows nothing about electronics has to figure out how to assemble the thing. Now some kits are limited to simply hand tools, while others will require some more finer assemble. So how long will be before we see the unassembled kits on ebay by frustrated people?

Angel Barracks Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 9:10 a.m. PST

I have a firm print my models for me to use as masters and their printer is about £70,000.00 GBP

I dread to think what sort of quality a $500.00 USD printer churns out.

Razor7827 Sep 2012 9:21 a.m. PST

I could see starting a small business using 3D printers to make terrain/buildings/vehicles for wargaming. Startup costs would not be that high, (compared to say molding costs) and you could basically make whatever someone wants. You could crank out a Cafe Gondree, for example in whatever scale they desired. Could almost set it up at a convention and make items on the spot.

Angel Barracks Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 9:25 a.m. PST

Except of course some bigger models can take over 1 day to print..


Ravens Forge Miniatures Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 9:32 a.m. PST

The company I work for has a 3D printer. I'm the SR Toolmaker (moldmaker).
The best usef for these is how Angel Barracks is using it – design your model in a 3D compatible file format and have someone print your masters, possibly even make your tools for you.
Anyone wants printing (or toolmaking) done, feel free to contact me at david DOT bo DOT mathews AT gamal DOT com. I will be happy to pass your contact info along to my boss.

Or, you can contact us directly from the website:

However, if you contact me, I will get you to my boss and you can bypass the sales guys who don't really know anything about gaming industry needs.

We have done work for several game companies, both large and small.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2012 9:34 a.m. PST

Yes, these are not "PzIV-L70s While U Wait!"
The layering and building up is a very time consuming process. The more detail, the longer the time.

I can certainly see it for masters, but mass production?

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2012 9:35 a.m. PST

There is a major underground to make a one shot pistol with a 3D printer. That should be interesting.

Petrov Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 9:49 a.m. PST

They have already made AR 15 lower and assembled it into a fully functional rifle. 3000 rounds so far through it.

Razor7827 Sep 2012 9:51 a.m. PST

So how long would it take to "print", say a 15mm small house?

Angel Barracks Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 10:00 a.m. PST

Depends on what quality you want as the orientation can be changed to alter print line visibility, but that increases time.
Other than that I am no wiser than you.

However a 6mm scale APC costs me £80.00 GBP so I doubt anyone would want to buy a 15mm house that may cost say about £200.00 GBP or more?

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2012 10:04 a.m. PST

One of my friends has a 3D printer that he purchased for about $8,000 USD and he was able to design a 1/300th scale house and print it in around 15 minutes. Pretty basic, but it looked fine for that scale. However, if you wanted to do a very detailed house with multiple wings, roof patterns, windows, etc., you would need a much more expensive printer that can do very fine printing. Also, the $500 USD-2000 3D printer kits are not easy to assemble from what he said(and he's an engineer) and calibrating them correctly takes time.

Personal logo Fergal Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 10:16 a.m. PST

I love these discussions. People always talk about how far out this technology is from being used.

I work at a k-6 school in Vermont, USA. I'm a technology integration specialist there, and we just ordered a 3D printer ($500, no assembly) to use with 6th graders. We will be designing buildings in google sketchup and printing them in a few months. 11 year olds doing this, what happens when these kids get to college or even high school.

I look at it like books and home printers. I go to book stores to buy books, well I order them online anyway. But for things I need at home, small jobs, I print them on my wireless home printer ($90 but the ink will kill you). I print out many of my gaming rules at home it's easier.

I think it will be the same with objects, things that you can mass produce for a profit, you'll get at a store. Niche things can be made at an acceptable price at home. I would count our hobby in the niche things we could print at home.

Personal logo Fergal Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 10:20 a.m. PST

However a 6mm scale APC costs me £80.00 GBP GBP so I doubt anyone would want to buy a 15mm house that may cost say about £200.00 GBP GBP or more?

For example the 2 vehicles at the front cost me £80.00 GBP GBP

Way to go AB, I love watching this progress.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2012 10:55 a.m. PST

Take a look here: link

I ordered a couple of WW I airplanes from them, including an Ilya Muromets… Very nice! This technology is usable, today, folks. It is NOT a pie-in-the-sky dream still hanging in the foggy future. My planes showed up in my mailbox after two weeks of placing the order.

I am currently painting the Ilya Muromets ( link ), and it has sufficient detail, though not as much as a metal casting. The underside was flat, and a bit powdery, but after I lightly brushed away the loose stuff, the detail was unaffected.

The weight of the Ilya, with 50% of the painting completed, is only 13 grams. A metal model of this plane, in the same 1/144 scale, would weigh more than 10 times that!

If you are enjoying some aerial games, such as Red Baron, Shapeways is the place to shop. Their models are very affordable, they have many, many planes to choose from, and their models are very lightweight -- easy to mount on elevation sticks, even with the large bombers.

I am still waiting for miniatures companies to offer their products on Shapeways web site. I expect wargaming miniatures to be available in 3D printer output within the next few years -- they're cheap to produce, no inventory overhead to stock (print on demand), easy to modify, and easy to show your customers what they look like (see the spinning, 3D demonstrations on Shapeways' web site; click on, and drag the image, to get different views). Cheers!

Angel Barracks Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 11:03 a.m. PST

Very nice! This technology is usable, today, folks. It is NOT a pie-in-the-sky dream still hanging in the foggy future. My planes showed up in my mailbox after two weeks of placing the order.

Though of course the printers at Shapeways are more than $500.00 USD

(and even Shapeways FUD is not as good a definition as proper 3d printers whose job is to make models for you.
Shapeways is about people selling their designs through the Shapeways storefront.
It is not about making high end quality models as prototypes or masters.
People do use them for that, but much better companies are out there in terms of quality.

Ron W DuBray Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 11:12 a.m. PST

printers are good for making a master that you use to make a production mold from and that is about it at this point, For one they are to slow, Two the print needs to be sanded smoothed and finished, three the resin is not very strong, and lastly the printers are slow.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2012 11:15 a.m. PST

Still, after searching Shapeways web catalog, there are some figures being offered, in 28mm scale: link Pack of Five; link ; and a search on "28mm" . They are not the highest quality, likely similar to Prince August molds' output. Cheers!

TheStarRanger27 Sep 2012 11:22 a.m. PST

This one just went up on kickstarter yesterday and was fully funded at $100,000 USD in 2.5 hours and is now over $700,000 USD and looks very interesting.

raylev327 Sep 2012 12:17 p.m. PST

I wouldn't look at the situation as to what the capabilities or costs are today…like all tech, the prices will come down as the capabilities go up. I can forsee a day when we'll "print" out vehicles and figures for ourselves.

jameshammyhamilton Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 12:30 p.m. PST

Interesting link….

That could mean really quite cheap models based on material costs. Tempted….


LeonAdler Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Sep 2012 12:43 p.m. PST

I don't know, no one thinks of us poor designers, all this technology shouldn't be allowed! Luddites to the Barricade!
( Ed we havent got any Barricades…………anyone got a 3D printer on hand?)

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Sep 2012 1:18 p.m. PST

What size are the Shape way planes? They do not seem all that inexpensive to me at $8.00 USD -$20.00 each.
Russ Dunaway

Angel Barracks Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 1:21 p.m. PST

What size are the Shape way planes?

In cm:
20.704 wide
12.368 deep
2.614 height

If you want the best finish (FUD) then you are looking at about £40.00 GBP

The Gonk Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 1:43 p.m. PST

Was just in a government facility with a $500 USDk+ 3D printer that printed in titanium instead of plastic.

No, they would not let me print anything on it. frown

LeonAdler Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Sep 2012 2:29 p.m. PST

The Gonk,
I for one think that was VERY unreasonable of them! lol

6sided Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 3:18 p.m. PST

Just like all tech, it will half in price every couple of years. What is £1,500.00 GBP now, in three years will be affordable and materials will be cheaper. Look at colour laser printer, a £1,000.00 GBP a few years ago, now £400.00 GBP for a decent one.

I am learning how to do CAD right now and am going to get a range of stuff out as a startup as soon as it becomes viable, which it will. Low overheads, no stock to carry.



CraigH Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 6:38 p.m. PST

and I still say we need a 3D printer board….

But Michael at AB has it nailed – no need to own the printer and, also, the Shapeways printers are not state-of-the-art.

I designed a 1/600 F-104 years ago for printing – got back a nice little model. Sent the same file to Shapeways and they said the resolution was too fine.

Marcus Maximus27 Sep 2012 11:42 p.m. PST

IIRC don't you get "printer lines marks" via the cheap 3D printers? I have been looking into this as one alternative form of employment to make up for lack of money as I lost my job when I suffered a spinal injury about 2 years ago, and I wanted to be able to do smoething from home that didn't require me to travel or lift heavy objects.

I think AB had the right idea create your own 3D model and have another firm to make it….

@RavenForgeMiniatures aka David Matthews what a kind offer and thank you for the helping hand to havew direct access to your boos. I so hope that those gamers who do take up your offer will show complete respect and professionalism throughout their dealings with your boss.

Texas Jack28 Sep 2012 10:28 a.m. PST

I agree with Russ, Shapeways isnt as inexpensive as I keep hearing. Im a naval gamer and the prices are several times higher than Navwar, or WTJ.

If you were to use 3D printing for a master, what material would it have to be printed in in order to create a mold? I would think it would have to be a bit on the robust side.

Angel Barracks Inactive Member28 Sep 2012 10:32 a.m. PST

My printed masters are first made into durable resin models, it is the resin models that are then used to make the moulds.

Many a fine printed master has been ruined by trying to make a mould direct from it, also many a mould has been of below acceptable standard due to the reaction the printed master has on the mould..

Printed masters add another stage to the traditional process, and that extra stage of course costs more money…

Personal logo Miniatureships Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Sep 2012 10:49 a.m. PST

The quality of the print, if used for making production molds, is very important. There are companies that have shown 3D printed masters that have taken nearly 6 to 9 months before they ever made it into production, due to the amount of prep work involve.

Also, when putting a 3D printed master into molds, especially if the production master is to resin cast, they are other things to consider beside the layer lines.

Having done one 3D master for a company, I will not do any others, because the prep time and other considerations to get a good production mold is costly in terms of labor.

I will admit, the new kickstarter 3D printer by the MIT guys does impress me. Now, to learn the programing skills to design something that is not now available to everyone else on the market.

This is something else that many gamers forget, if 3D printers come to the point of common usage, then what happens to the companies that make tanks, ships, planes and buildings? Too much of something means to little money for anyone to make something more than a few times before saying this is really cutting into my person for so little reward.

Ron W DuBray Inactive Member28 Sep 2012 3:01 p.m. PST

Reapers CAV line of minis was done in 3D modeling and 3D printing of the masters and that was back in 2001-2002.

I spent weeks building 3D renders for them, and its all gotten easier with every passing year.

Personal logo Miniatureships Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Sep 2012 8:57 a.m. PST

okay, let us say that cheap printers are just around the corner that can do super work. The next question is what is going to cost for the programs to do the 3D images? And, before you say, you can get the images from online sources, what if I don't like them or what to do something that no one else has done or create a model in away that can't be done with what is already found online?

Angel Barracks Inactive Member29 Sep 2012 10:31 a.m. PST

There are plenty of free ones available.

Personal logo Miniatureships Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Sep 2012 8:29 p.m. PST

The question is not about free ones, it is about what will it cost if I want to create my own 3D images?

You need to remember that not all vehicles, ships, etc are something that people want to create. Thus, if I am doing a ship line and want all the ships that were involved, say for the late 1800's, most likely I would be required to create my own 3D images to use in the printer.

And, the other issue with free images, it won't take long before manufacturers will not use them to make molds for mass production. An individual with a 3D printer can take an make the free ones for his friends at cost. Why pay a manufacturer.

I believe the desire for 3D printers is to by pass purchasing from manufacturers.

Angel Barracks Inactive Member30 Sep 2012 1:25 a.m. PST

I don't understand, sorry.
You said:

The next question is what is going to cost for the programs to do the 3D images?

And I said there are plenty of free ones, so with free software it will cost nothing to create your own 3D images.

I am lost as to what you mean now.
Happy to discuss via PM if you prefer?


Personal logo Miniatureships Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Sep 2012 1:02 p.m. PST

hat I am asking is simple. What if I want to create something that is not available for free or purchase because no one has done it yet. What is it going to cost me for the graphics program to create what I want.

Example: I want to create a per-dreadnaught fleet for the Japaneses – Chinese War. I don't want just the main ships, but also what ships were available at the time. I doubt very much that I will find all those 3D renderings for free or even for sale, which means that I will have to create them somehow, either by myself or pay someone to create them.

If, I as a manufacturer want to stay in business when all this pie in the sky drops on the family table, then I am going to have to learn to create what is not free or what can't be purchased at a reasonable wargamers price. Thus, the next question, "What will it cost for the program so that I can make my own 3d designs?"

Look at this way, in every video on Kickstarter where a company is looking for money to put their 3D printers into production, they all make the same thing, a ring, the Eiffel Tower and a few other items.

Thus, if everyone has access to free stuff, and they can make a few things for their friends, and then multiply that by several hundred gamers having 3D printers and doing the free stuff for there friends, that doesn't leave much hope for the manufacturer. And, especially any manufacturer that deals in scales 10mm and under.

Angel Barracks Inactive Member30 Sep 2012 1:55 p.m. PST

"What will it cost for the program so that I can make my own 3d designs?"

As I said, nothing.
There are free programs available.

Personal logo Miniatureships Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Sep 2012 9:11 p.m. PST

So what you are saying is that with $3,000 USD 3D printers and all the free stuff to use them and make models, there will really be no use for the miniature manufacturer is say about 5 years?

Angel Barracks Inactive Member01 Oct 2012 4:22 a.m. PST

Not at all no.
I thought I made my point that $3,000 USD printers are not that good, quite clear?

However why can't a 'miniature manufacturer' embrace this new technology and be better at it than Joe Schmoe at home and thus stay in business?

I sell models that are sculpted from green stuff, I sell models that are made from plasticard and brass rod, I also sell models that were designed in 3D programs and had printed masters.

I reckon back in the day model makers never had electricity to help them, but we do today, so we use it.
I am sure that when the 3D printed masters become less unusual and more mainstream then miniature companies will make more use of them.

Just because something is free, that does mean people will be able to use it.
I have zero skill in using the free software to make CAD.
No doubt the vast majority of gamers are like me in this aspect.
Just as most gamers have zero skill in using green stuff.

New and free technology still requires 'craftsmen' to be able to use it to its full potential.

We only stay in business as we sell to people that can't do what we can, be that green stuff sculpting or CAD sculpting.

Personal logo Miniatureships Sponsoring Member of TMP02 Oct 2012 7:40 a.m. PST

You may not be able to use all the technology, but what about gamers who have been brought up being exposed to this technology or work in fields that have this technology?

I know a gamer that works with this technology, and because he now has access to printers, he creates and makes designs and sells those products to general public. He is also willing to teach other gamers how to use the technology so that they can do the same. He has a good job, so basically all this is to help him cover his cost for what he wants in the way of game pieces that he will use.

And, when it comes to the gamer, most will not care about total craftsmanship, if they can get what they want at a cheaper price they will get it.

GeoffQRF Inactive Member02 Oct 2012 8:53 a.m. PST

Welcome to capitalism…

GeoffQRF Inactive Member03 Oct 2012 4:25 a.m. PST

Just to put this into perspective, despite the rapid advances in this technology in recent years, it is still wayyyyy off a print-on-demand type service. Like AB says, I seriously doubt that a $500 USD machine (or even a $5,000 USD machine) can produce commercial quality prints (but see my last paragraph). I've seen the $50,000 USD machines they have here in the technology department in the university. They are still low res, with a rough surface. Good for rapid prototyping to look at general shape, form and fit, but way off anything that you could sell. They can print at a higher resolution, but it triples the cost (as the cost is based on material usage and time) which makes it no longer viable. £300.00 GBP for a 15mm tank. It's questionable as a commerical master (and not as good as a traditional version) and off the cards for print on demand.

Look at the prices quoted above. If you are happy with a rough shape and finish then they are about the same as a high quality traditionally produced master (ignoring the hours to draw the thing up in the first place, and the thours to clean it up after print).

"If you want the best finish (FUD) then you are looking at about £40.00 GBP"

You ain't going to sell many at £40.00 GBP a pop.

"when it comes to the gamer, most will not care about total craftsmanship, if they can get what they want at a cheaper price they will get it."

Ah, yes, well getting the punter to see the difference between cheap and quality has always been a problem. I remember showing a client a good quality litho printed leaflet, and a cheap digital print with colours varying across the face, obvious print lines, 'dotty' images (all hallmarks of early digital print) and clearly a much cheaper finish… and he really could not see the difference. He just saw one as cheaper…

Personal logo Fergal Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member03 Oct 2012 5:29 a.m. PST

Let's look at it like rules. There was only one way to get rules before the net, buy a book from whom ever or brew your own.

With the advent of PDF, you can now get many rules direct from he writer or from places like Wargames Vault. Much of the stuff on Wargames Vault is amateurish or of dubious quality, but much of it is great stuff as well. ALL of it is cheaper than the traditional books and with no shipping. Great for people to put stuff out.

However there are many great companies putting out books and if you prefer books, you can get them.

Digital printing will have the same effect and the world is changing whether we like it or not. The people making the most money off the work in the future will be the designers not the publisher (or traditional figures sellers). Might be time to take an autocad class at nights? There will be folks that want the cheapest possible ship that isn't that accurate, but there will be plenty of folks willing to pay for high quality, accurate models as well. It would make good business sense to offer both?

I'm not sure when 3D printers entered most folks radars, but the advances in the past year even have been phenomenal! They will get better and better and better every year. The price will come down as they enter the mainstream.

It will have the same effect as online sales. Many stores have adopted and invested in good websites with shopping carts and many have gone out of business. Some hold on with old websites and great customer service.

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