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"3d printing of a discontinued plastic sprue" Topic

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johnbear4407 Oct 2018 2:23 p.m. PST

No.1, could you legally do this, if it was for me and me alone. I would not plan selling it.

No. 2, could it actually be done?

No. 3, if yes to No.1 and No. 2, who could do it for me? Could shapeways do something like this?

Thanks in advance.


John Armatys07 Oct 2018 2:32 p.m. PST

1. No, unless you can get copyright clearance – it is exactly the same as recasting a discontinued figure.

Winston Smith07 Oct 2018 3:46 p.m. PST

Those who CAN do it for you will not.
Shapeways is a professional outfit, and getting involved with this kind of blatant copyright violation would be a definite NO.

johnbear4407 Oct 2018 5:28 p.m. PST

Point taken, thanks

Personal logo TheWhiteDog Supporting Member of TMP07 Oct 2018 8:40 p.m. PST

If you don't make the file public, Shapeways has no system to check if an item violates copyright, nor do they care.

Copyright violations have to be reported by the copyright holder for them to take action, and private files cannot be viewed by other users.

In other words, as long as it is private, they'll print anything that is viable for the chosen material.

Winston Smith07 Oct 2018 8:52 p.m. PST

So you're saying that Shapeways has the morals of a recaster?
I find that hard to believe.

Personal logo TheWhiteDog Supporting Member of TMP07 Oct 2018 9:55 p.m. PST

I'm saying that Shapeways doesn't check, period.

The upload process is now completely automated, except for the final review. That review is done by a print technician, who doesn't care what he's printing, just that it meets their physical design criteria. The only things excluded at this point are potential weapons.

If a person uploads a 3D model to their account, but doesn't publish it in the marketplace, the only people who even know it exists are the creator and the print technician. His job is to assess the viability of a model and to fit it in the production tray, not to determine if the creator has the intellectual or physical rights to a design. Just at a glance, roughly 20,000 of the models currently available on Shapeways are violations of various IP holders rights. Otherwise all the Star Trek, Star Wars, Epic 40k, Battlefleet Gothic, etc, would not be available.

I'm not addressing the moral aspect of the issue, simply the physical possibility. The reality is Shapeways, I.materialize, and other print houses will print whatever file you want to upload.

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP08 Oct 2018 6:32 a.m. PST

Winston, TheWhiteDog is correct. As long as you don't sell it via their website, Shapeways will print whatever you want, and as many as you want in whatever material you want.

They don't check files for copyright for private use, and since there is no way for anyone else to check those files, there won't be any takedown notices filed.

That's not a judgement of the morality of it- recasting (and IP theft) are still wrong.

Achtung Minen08 Oct 2018 6:45 a.m. PST

Let's calm down, we're talking about private use here…

Winston Smith08 Oct 2018 7:04 a.m. PST


Personal logo TheWhiteDog Supporting Member of TMP08 Oct 2018 7:17 a.m. PST

I just like to educate people on how Shapeways works. With the constantly shifting policies there, it can be confusing.

I've been using their services since they first became available in 2008. In that time I've found many in the miniatures-community who don't really understand how the process there works, so I always try to clarify misconceptions when I can.

It's really changed the face of my hobby, as it led to teaching myself how to do 3D modeling, how to operate a 3D printer, and eventually allowed me to create miniatures that I would never be able to have otherwise.

Winston Smith08 Oct 2018 8:03 a.m. PST

Amazing. All I can think of is a person making his own molds of Perry figures and taking them to some other company to have them made.

Personal logo TheWhiteDog Supporting Member of TMP08 Oct 2018 8:22 a.m. PST

That's actually not a bad analogy, but the other company would have to have an automated system where no one actually sees what is in the molds.

I figure that most of the print-technicians at Shapeways think half of the customers are mad, printing out tiny tanks, planes, and ships. The design communities on Shapeways are very insular; the jewelry folks don't even really know what miniatures are, and the model railroaders think we're all very strange.

Winston Smith08 Oct 2018 8:31 a.m. PST

So I went to their site and shopped.
There is a large section devoted to 40K.
Has not GW seen that? It's rather blatant.
No cease and desist letters?

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP08 Oct 2018 8:45 a.m. PST

Shapeways isn't cheaper than Perry. Sure, take that Perry sprue and print it up in a decent material…and spend more than just buying the original boxes.

Shapeways is great for pieces that don't otherwise exist.

Personal logo TheWhiteDog Supporting Member of TMP08 Oct 2018 8:45 a.m. PST

Not worth the cost of enforcing? Each individual file would have to be flagged by someone at GW.

I know items have been taken down in the past for copyright violations, but there's nothing to prevent the file from being uploaded again.

ETA: And yes, those Perry minis would end up costing about 20-30 times as much as buying metals directly from Perry.

MechanicalHorizon08 Oct 2018 10:31 a.m. PST

Winston Smith – Some of the stuff on Shapeways might be breaking an IP law, but most (especially bits parts) don't.

Remember, the Chapterhouse Vs GW suit set down some legal "rules" that bits makers can follow so what they make is within the law.

Now the ones posting fully sculpted Tau battlesuits and BFG ships and Rhino tanks, depending on how close they are to the original models, are probably breaking a law.

Major General Stanley08 Oct 2018 3:38 p.m. PST

don't you need a 3d scan of the sprue to give to shapeways? Where would you find that?

thehawk08 Oct 2018 7:55 p.m. PST

2. No.

Prof Pate10 Oct 2018 4:00 p.m. PST

It is extremely difficult to access the sort of machinery and software that would convert a sprue into a printable file. Those with such equipment may bank at running such a product through.

However Shapeways will print almost anything except gun/projectile weapon parts.

Mechanical Horizontal has it right. Chapterhouse was not a whitewash for GW and Fair Use cases come in a past producer I am not happy to say that but it's the situation.

All best

Personal logo javelin98 Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2018 4:28 p.m. PST

So, I've been through this twice already with my own minis. What would have to be done to avoid any DMCA takedown notice would be to recreate the sprue from scratch so that it is their own work; make the minis sufficiently different enough that a person couldn't be readily tricked into mistaking one for the other; and avoid using any specific symbols or names that are trademarked.

Speaking only for US law, there is no copyright or trademark on three-dimensional objects (unless it's a 3D version of an already-trademarked symbol). There is also no patent on those objects, only on the process by which they are made. So you can make your own space marines, which, so long as you don't use GW's trademarked symbols on them and don't call them "Games Workshop-Style Imperial Space Marines!!" should be safe to produce in the US. You couldn't recycle any of the bits from GW's Marines, though, because then they wouldn't be your own original work.

Of course, having someone recreate a sprue from scratch would likely nullify any cost savings over going to eBay or whatever, so it's kind of a moot point.

Achtung Minen11 Oct 2018 5:44 a.m. PST

So who here is going to make a 3D printable file for my missing 15mm Greek artillery? C'mon, you know you want to… the Hellenic Army needs your help!

Personal logo TheWhiteDog Supporting Member of TMP13 Oct 2018 10:49 a.m. PST



Commission a 3D modeler, an they'll deliver you a printable stl-file you can upload to one of the 3D print-houses.

For the stuff I can't get to look right myself, I've hired out for 2-3 models.

wardog14 Oct 2018 11:32 a.m. PST

just curious based on what he is asking ,what would it cost to commission something like that very rough guess??

Personal logo TheWhiteDog Supporting Member of TMP14 Oct 2018 9:45 p.m. PST


Are we talking an artillery piece or crew as well? The folks that can sculpt figures usually charge $40 USD-$100 depending on size and complexity.

The starfighters and tank I have had modeled were $20 USD-$50 each, so I suspect a gun would fall in the lower range. That gives me full rights to the file, so I actually own the model (not the artist). Then I use Shapeways to have them printed.

forwardmarchstudios19 Oct 2018 10:56 a.m. PST

Home laser scanners that will copy any object to make a .stl file will eventually be as cheap or cheaper than current hobby printers, so eventually you will be able to at least scan a GW model, for instance, and print it out.

PDF link

This paper gives a nice thorough introduction to 3d Printing copyright information. I was just discussing my own files at with a friend of mine in law school. She just wrote a lengthy paper on the topic. I'm going to speak to her again on Monday about it, as it's up to date with current law.

She asked me how I've avoiding piracy, and I said by relaying on people's sense of moral correctness and social pressure. She thought that was novel.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP04 Dec 2018 7:34 p.m. PST

Speaking only for US law, there is no copyright or trademark on three-dimensional objects

Not sure where you got that idea. Sculpture has always been an art form and therefore is protected under copyright law since copyright laws were first conceived. The method of making a sculpture is irrelevant to the issue. Whether you copy another's work with a computer and a 3D printer or use a chisel on stone, it's still a violation of copyright. "Fair use" is also far more restrictive than most people think, and DOES NOT include a broad right to copy something "for personal use."

The right to copy, duplicate, or otherwise produce a work belongs to the creator of the work, or to whomever he or she has specifically transferred that right to. That does NOT include a person who has simply bought either the work itself or a copy of the same, regardless of method of production.

So the answer to 1 is flatly "no." End of discussion.

By the way, as a side note there is a great deal of distinction between a "space marine," meaning an armored futuristic military figure and a Space Marine from GW, which is a particular look and style— a work of art, in the legal sense— of the same sort of concept. So one can make "space marines" of one's own design till the cows come home and not violate copyright, but one just can't replicate the GW products themselves (or substantially mimic the same). How they're labeled is again irrelevant, except that if they DO have GW logos/artwork on them, that specific artwork will be potentially in violation of copyright or trademark law, depending on which applies.

Andy Skinner Supporting Member of TMP05 Dec 2018 6:55 a.m. PST

The GW Uruk-Hai scout plastic figures come mostly with shields, but not all. I wanted them all to have shields. My son and I recently took one with a prominent shield and pressed him into a plastic that gets soft when heated. We then made enough green stuff shields to handle the 8 figures I had with no shields. Haven't glued them on, yet.

What are the relevant specifics for each of these approaches?
1) What I did above, using a GW figure with a shield to copy the shield for other GW figures.
2) Indirect copying, where I'd try to match the style as much as I could making my own, possibly with 3D design and printing.
3) Making my own shields of different design but similar feel.

No problem with 3. People convert all the time. I guess people glue on shields from other figures, so I could have bought more plastic Uruk-Hai and cut off their shields, but that would be pretty silly …

2 would be copying using my own efforts, trying to make the same thing as GW (New Line, really) had designed.

1 is actually making a physical copy of their work.

I don't feel bad about it, but that's not a good way to judge whether right or wrong, or legal or illegal.


Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP05 Dec 2018 2:54 p.m. PST

Andy, yes, technically that violates copyright. And since the design of the shields are original to the PJ films, any duplication of them without a license is, legally, a violation of copyright against Weta Workshop/New Line Cinema, etc., even if you sculpted them by hand.

But, honestly, no one's gonna come knocking on your door with a warrant or a C&D letter for either 1 or 2. The only concern I have in this instance is if there is a process to acquire the missing shields from GW. Certainly, one can purchase another set of Uruk-hai to acquire the shields (or shield-bearing figures), though yes, that's just perpetuating the problem by also adding more unshielded figs. In the past GW had a "bits" program, iirc, where you could acquire various accessories for their figs. If that's still in place, that would be the better way to go. But all in all, again, in the case of a small part like a shield, I don't think anyone is going to condemn you for making duplicates of that part for your own use. And in that instance, the potential is that fair use might apply, as you are reproducing only a small part of the original work. There's more to fair use than that, but the law does make a distinction based on whether or not the part is "a significant portion" of the original work. I rather think a shield wouldn't be considered "significant" to a full sculpt of an Uruk-hai.

So, without in anyway advocating IP piracy, I think you're good.

Andy Skinner Supporting Member of TMP06 Dec 2018 2:03 p.m. PST

The shields are built on to the figures, so aren't separate bits.


Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP07 Dec 2018 10:16 a.m. PST

Then honestly, I don't think GW or PJ cares. Just don't sell ‘em.

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