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"Will 3D Printing change tabletop gaming as we know it?" Topic


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viper512122 Sep 2021 7:06 p.m. PST

I just very recently discovered 3D Printed miniatures available on online marketplaces and the variety and custom sizes are amazing!! I've always wanted to game in 40mm-54mm scale and until now the options have been extremely limited. However, 3D Printing has changed all that and now the options look endless. And even the standard 28mm-32mm options are astounding. And with much stronger and more flexible resins being available these days, resin miniatures really have no negatives compared to plastic and metal miniatures, and resin miniatures arguably have better details. And all these same benefits go for 3D Printed terrain too.

So are resin 3D Printed miniatures and terrain the future of tabletop gaming?

Opinions?

Perris070722 Sep 2021 7:29 p.m. PST

Well they certainly will be able to do unique poses that were unable to be cast using conventional spin casting methods.

Personal logo cloudcaptain Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2021 7:40 p.m. PST

I was a 20mm and 54mm gamer before 3d printing was commonly accessible. Once I took the dive I no longer had to scavenge for figures or drool over all the nice stuff the 28mm players were getting. It most certainly has changed gaming. People are printing entire armies and showing up with alternative models.

It has also changed kitbashing for me as now I can digitally combine models to kitbash them as well.

Anycubic just came out with tech to do away with the LCD screens that we use predominantly. Their new printer will use a projector like UV source to create resin prints. That is HUGE new as getting resin on your LCD screen was an expensive mistake historically. It will only get better. They will get cheaper, larger, faster, and easier to use. I have 3 printers currently. One day I will be a veritable toy factory :)

BTCTerrainman Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2021 7:46 p.m. PST

Viper

resin miniatures really have no negatives compared to plastic and metal miniatures

That will all depend on the properties of the plastic utilized (and resin is a plastic). Metals tend to last for a very long time (as our experience suggests), but many plastics break down over time for a variety of reasons (think of all of the plastic items that eventually crack, get brittle etc.). Time will tell…..

Wargamer Blue22 Sep 2021 8:13 p.m. PST

I think they will. We are seeing some amazing detail in 10mm 3D figures now. Everyone knows someone with a printer. Postage blowouts, especially the likes we have seen from Warlord Games have made buying direct from them prohibitive. The future will be here soon.

There will be still some traditionalists like myself who love metal figures and I will always do my best to seek them out,

HMS Exeter22 Sep 2021 8:29 p.m. PST

When 3d printers can handle, and juggle, multiple resin colors in the same run, and produce table, or near table, ready figures, it will be all over but the shouting.

Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2021 8:44 p.m. PST

It has for me. Being able to get model files, free or at a small cost, able to print as many as you want (it can be addictive) at an incredible low cost, what's to feel bad about.

Yes, there are still metal figures I'll buy, as well as some models I cannot print due to their small size, but files are getting better, software and nozzle sizes improving, etc.

It will be a major part of the hobby, if it is not already. I recently (last winter) communicated with a gentleman in the U.K. that could not find 1/32 scale artillery for his plastic infantry so I printed 7-8 various AT guns in scale for less than $6.00 USD US and mailed them to him.

One can scale up or down usually without much effort.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Sep 2021 8:55 p.m. PST

They already have.

I now no longer think "does anyone make this?"

I now think "I need to find someone to make this."

From terrain, to custom bases or game parts, to miniatures.

Personal logo Doctor X Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2021 10:30 p.m. PST

They've already changed the hobby.

The resin figures we've printed from 6mm to 54mm have been quite impressive.

The technology is getting better, faster, and less expensive. Ease of operation is still lagging a bit for the average gamer.

For me a huge advantage is 3d printed resin figures require little, if any, prep time before priming and painting. That's a big time savings for me.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2021 11:12 p.m. PST

Get back to me when someone makes British soldiers at the Boston Massacre, wearing the uniforms in the Paul Revere print.

Get back to me when someone makes the Welch Fusiliers wearing the fusilier bearskin with 1768 Warrant uniform, for Boston 1775.

Get back to me when someone makes the Mike Fink blustering blowhard figure from the Disney TV show.

New York Continentals from 1776 wearing Grenadier mitre.

You can talk all you want about "spaceships" from some obscure movie or tv show. Who cares? I don't.
I have specific needs. When someone is dumb enough to address them via 3D printing, I'll think that it has arrived.
One caveat. They have to have a price comparable with Perry, Fife and Drum, Kings Mountain, Eureka…
Until my demands are met, I will consider 3D printing merely something… quaint.

Hey. Where can I get cheap chevaux de frize in 28mm? Did I mention "cheap"?

It's obvious that I will be buying units, with command, of at least 18 figures.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2021 11:18 p.m. PST

Oh. I've received tanks, and a heroically posed AWI general of ME!
I've never seen so much crap that had to be snipped or carved away.
It's like the old Elephant Joke:
"How do you carve a statue of an elephant?"
"Get a big block of wood and carve away anything that doesn't look like an elephant."

The prep time was far worse than with a metal model. And the layer striations were hideous.

Wargamer Blue23 Sep 2021 1:41 a.m. PST

Crappy printer John.

Personal logo cloudcaptain Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2021 3:55 a.m. PST

Yeah the resolution on prints from a resin printer can be mind blowing. Many filament printers can't do that level of detail…but are generally larger and easier to make terrain with. Large build area resin printers are catching up though!

There are several artists making musket era armies. Scifi, fantasy, ww2, anf moderns are more popular with the demographic currently but other periods are catching up. It is as simple as finding a 3d artist who has a passion for the period. You can always pay one to make the figs you want. Same as hiring a sculptor.

Mr Elmo23 Sep 2021 4:54 a.m. PST

I am printing 28mm figures for Bolt Action at like 30 cents each.

One may have to amortize the cost of the printer but it's already printed Space Marine shoulder pads, Xenomorphs, 32mm bases, Flames of War tanks, etc so the per item cost is going down.

Jozis Tin Man Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2021 5:36 a.m. PST

Personally it has revolutionized the hobby for me.

Most of my hobby spending is now for PLA plastic and I print a lot of terrain. Also, I quit buying laser cut bases online because I can fabricate my own on demand.

I still buy figures though, so the money I save on terrain and bases is going to figures.

Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian23 Sep 2021 6:00 a.m. PST

Last week I picked up some jaw-dropping lizard men from Etsy. Immediately changed my plans for developing my lizard man army.

picture

picture

They were dirt cheap compared to GW, Reaper, etc.

$30 USD for five of the riders.

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2021 6:02 a.m. PST

I've seen some incredible fantasy and sci-fi figs made from dental 3D printers, but those are well outside of the normal hobbyist being able to afford them. Most of the 3D printed figs are OK at best and at this time the printers are great for buildings/terrain.

3D printers, at least in my opinion, have actually made things worse for the gamer in one way and that is adding to the pile of unpainted stuff! There are three people in our gaming group who have 3D printers and there are boxes and boxes of newly printed buildings, figs, etc, all stacked next to the boxes and boxes of unpainted metal figs! Gamers still need to prep, base, and paint the figures, which as many of us know, is still the biggest challenge faced by miniatures gamers.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2021 6:12 a.m. PST

For a limited definition of "change," certainly. It will make possible wargaming in almost any period/scale combination, and the individuality of figures in skirmish/RPG games will improve.

I say this and hedge. I was recently completely unable to persuade an etsy 3D printer to print out a human figure in 25mm. 32mm and 28mm were the only options. If there are such limits on the designs and not the imaginations, we'll get a lot less out of 3D printing than I hope.

But this is not change on the level of introducing historical game rules, or even on the level of publishing DBA.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian23 Sep 2021 6:15 a.m. PST

aegiscg47: This is what is preventing me from getting one. Storage of 'stuff' is always an issue as well as where would I put a printer to use? I'm pretty set on figures and projects, though I think I might get my son to look a this.

JAFD2623 Sep 2021 7:49 a.m. PST

Forecasting is difficult, especially about the future. So I'm not doing any here.

Gauntlet23 Sep 2021 7:59 a.m. PST

It certainly has for me. Before I had a 3d printer I couldn't afford to risk buying miniatures for a scale and era that I wasn't sure I would stick with.

Now, I have printed half a dozen entire armies and nearly all my terrain. For less than $100. USD

Augustus23 Sep 2021 8:35 a.m. PST

Yes, it has completely changed the paradigm for me. I do not see myself buying any more miniatures.

I am looking into a resin printer. Any suggestions for which to purchase based o experience please feel free to suggest and thank you.

I am a 20mm gamer though so anything I make is going in that scale. I have some 28mm but it is waning in light of storage and print capabilities.

Filament printers "can" do some prints as well as Resin. But the majority of prints do a far better job in resin. I have thermo resin models over 20 years old a d they have no issues with breakdown/decay.

Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2021 8:38 a.m. PST

It has for me too. A month ago I decided I'd like to expand my WW1 "Winter Skirmish" collection to include a Finnish force. After a few days on the printer and using just a small proportion of a £35.00 GBP bottle of resin I have 20 Finnish tanks and 6 field guns. I've created and printed models of ships and torpedo boats that are unlikely ever to be made as traditional models, printed gods and monsters for the "fantasy" element of my Greek DBA collection, several hundred Chinese, Korean and Japanese ships of the 12th to 16th centuries, 1/2400 ancient fleets with around 500 ships and many, many Victorian ironclads, ACW gunboats, transports and allsorts of things. I'm now faced with something of a storage issue for all the models I've printed!

dapeters23 Sep 2021 9:52 a.m. PST

I think the business will switch to selling STL files. And the real question will be resin pile of shame or unused STL files.

Lascaris23 Sep 2021 10:07 a.m. PST

For me the big benefit has been in terrain. Previously I'd be hesitant to buy expensive buildings that I may only use infrequently. These days, I just print up whatever I want because the cost is so attractive.

DeRuyter23 Sep 2021 12:08 p.m. PST

Yes, it has completely changed the paradigm for me. I do not see myself buying any more miniatures.

I am looking into a resin printer. Any suggestions for which to purchase based o experience please feel free to suggest and thank you.

I have an Anycubic Photon Mono and it works well. It runs for less than $200. USD Someone mentioned the new DLP printer which is on Kickstarter for around $500. USD

The caveat to all 3d printing is that it is almost a hobby by itself. Once you have your print settings dialed in though. For myself it has changed the the way I get miniatures. I just printed and painted 8 coastal forces ships, including a destroyer in 1/300 with mostly free stl files. Were I to buy from a large well known miniatures company in the UK the postage alone would be twice what I spent! With a printer you can print exactly what you need, no more leftovers in the scrap drawer!

Mr Elmo23 Sep 2021 3:51 p.m. PST

I would second the Anycubic Photon Mono. I wish I had the Mono X for the larger plate area; but at sub $200 USD and 50 micrometer build layers you can't go wrong.

KSmyth23 Sep 2021 4:11 p.m. PST

I also think 3D printing has changed the hobby. I have some beautifully printed 1/600 scale ACW ships-resin printed, which seems to make all the difference in the world. I've also received a big bunch of Vietnam era buildings for Hue. I'm not there with seeing a lot of historical figures, but feel that can't be too far off.

That said, I can't see myself 3D printing, I'll stick to painting and basing.

Personal logo Doctor X Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2021 5:54 p.m. PST

I've never seen so much crap that had to be snipped or carved away.

All figures I've purchased have always had the support sprues trimmed off.

The prep time was far worse than with a metal model.

You have never had to carve the solid metal blob between the chest, arm, and weapon away from a 1970's Minifig in advancing position I guess.

And the layer striations were hideous.

That is not a resin printer. If you are looking for cheap then that can be the quality you get.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2021 6:52 p.m. PST

The prep time was far worse than with a metal model.

You have never had to carve the solid metal blob between the chest, arm, and weapon away from a 1970's Minifig in advancing position I guess.

Phalangites, hoplites, Musketeers….
And also Hinchliffe.
I usually started with an imported Japanese "not a Dremel" on slow speed to start out my gouging.
My dear sir, I can stack my old fart credentials against anyone here.

So you're telling me that I bought crap 3D printed models. I can't disagree with that. grin But I'm not going to keep banging my head on the desk hoping the "next time" will be better.

altfritz23 Sep 2021 7:04 p.m. PST

If its changing the hobby why are so many of the offering just GW knock-offs?

And it's too slow to replace metal production processes.

Zephyr123 Sep 2021 9:06 p.m. PST

"So are resin 3D Printed miniatures (..) the future of tabletop gaming?"

They'll have a niche until 3D holographic projected miniatures are viable (which will also have the advantage of being animated… ;-)

Martin Rapier24 Sep 2021 12:00 a.m. PST

I don't think it will change gaming, but it might change who I buy figures and vehicles from. I certainly can't be bothered to print my own, I've got far too much stuff already.

McWong7324 Sep 2021 5:50 a.m. PST

Personally feel we'll see more people playing as a result, coming especially from the RPG side of the tent.

UshCha24 Sep 2021 11:14 a.m. PST

Why would anybody buy metal models to me they are as out dated as"Hengis Pods Square wheel", heavy, fragile (worse then the old lead now), damage prone and chip paint; all those things 3D prints are not and 3D has retained turrets for AFV's and spare parts are easy if needed if needed, impossible at a sensible price with metal.

My extended play with 3D miniatures shows they are far more durable in play than metal.

3D prints have already revolutionized war gaming, I have not bought any Metal for years, all my new stuff is 3D printed. In addition FDM is perfectly acceptable, if you want to play not stand around 'OOH' ing and 'AHRRING' at the figures instead of playing.

I guess metal is now totally dead as it cannot compete with either injection molded plastic or 3D prints.

UshCha24 Sep 2021 11:18 a.m. PST

Why would anybody buy metal models tome they are as dead as "Hengis Pods Square wheel", heavy, fragile (worse then the old lead now, damage prone and chip paint; all those things 3D prints are not and 3D has retained turrets for AFV's and spare parts are easy if needed if needed.
My extended play with 3D miniatures shows they are far more durable in play than metal.

3D prints have already revolutionized war gaming, I have not bought any Metal for years, all my new stuff is 3D printed. In addition FDM is perfectly acceptable, if you want to play not stand around 'OOH' ing and 'AHRRING' at the figures instead of playing.

I guess metal is now totally dead as it cannot compete with either injection molded plastic or 3D prints.

gregmita2 Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2021 11:20 a.m. PST

If its changing the hobby why are so many of the offering just GW knock-offs?

Because that's by far the biggest section of the hobby.

The biggest advantage of 3D printed miniatures is customization. If you want a zillion identical units, metal casting or plastic injection molding are still the way to go, and will be so in the future. But if you want a small number of unique or hard to find minis, there's no way the more traditional methods can do it economically.

Personally feel we'll see more people playing as a result, coming especially from the RPG side of the tent.

Hero Forge is going a long way toward that.

gregmita2 Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2021 11:26 a.m. PST

I guess metal is now totally dead as it cannot compete with either injection molded plastic or 3D prints.

It can compete with injection molding for small runs. The initial capital cost is still too high for hard plastic. There is definitely a niche for metals in places where you need too big of a run for 3D printing to fill in a reasonable amount of time, but you don't need the volume provided by expensive tooling for injection molding.
The soaring cost of metal is going to be an issue though.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2021 12:28 p.m. PST

Why would anybody buy metal models tome they are as dead as "Hengis Pods Square wheel", heavy, fragile (worse then the old lead now, damage prone and chip paint; all those things 3D prints are not and 3D has retained turrets for AFV's and spare parts are easy if needed if needed.
My extended play with 3D miniatures shows they are far more durable in play than metal.

I don't know how you treat your figures, but I have figures I painted 35 years ago that are still in great shape. Do you shake them up in a cigar box?

Get back to me about that when 36 figure battalions are in discussion.

Martian Root Canal24 Sep 2021 1:04 p.m. PST

Nothing replaces anything.

Why is the view one versus the other (for the most part)? 3D printing is changing the hobby by expanding options.

I own three 3D printers. I still buy metal and plastic figs. But now my potential options are multiplying as new sculptors enter the market who only need to worry about the printing characteristics of their models, not the production/casting headaches.

I have greatly expanded my WW2 15mm collections with vehicles that no one has done before. I have just finished printing some 28mm LRRP figures for Vietnam, including a Kit Carson scout. Fantasy? I thought it was a glutted market before I got my printers…now I'm amazed at the creativity and the previously-uncastable options I can get. Painting things up? If done properly, you can't tell the difference from metals (except for weight). Print lines? Depends on how you're printing them and primering them. Resin printers don't do that if you're printer is dialed in correctly.

Best of all, I've learned to make my own models when no other options exist.

BTW, I spend less time cleaning, prepping and priming my printed models than metals. And I've been buying/painting metals for more than forty years. If anyone is buying 3d-printed models that require more work than metals, you're buying from the wrong vendor or engaging in hyperbole.

altfritz24 Sep 2021 1:23 p.m. PST

Customization is only available to those with the skill set to "make it so" – and the time. Same as with metal miniatures.

Some 3D designed figures are done in a very lazy fashion.

Consider some of Raging Heroes figures. There is a subsection of that range with ragged clothing. The designer got lazy, however. He/she made the initial design and multiple different poses based on that first figure, however, they did not change the tears in the clothing. So each figure pose has exactly the same "look" when it's supposed to be a ragged look with each one different. Lazy design work, IMO.

Personal logo Doctor X Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2021 2:41 p.m. PST

…also Hinchliffe.
I usually started with an imported Japanese "not a Dremel…"

Hinchliffe AND a knock-off Dremel?

We now know who is one of those elite 1%ers.

BTCTerrainman Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2021 7:30 p.m. PST

Why would anybody buy metal models tome they are as dead as "Hengis Pods Square wheel", heavy, fragile (worse then the old lead now, damage prone and chip paint

Definitely not my experience. Sure an occasional bayonet broken from handling (can't imagine any different on other materials). 25+ year old figures with no experience with chipping figures. Never……

UshCha25 Sep 2021 11:52 a.m. PST

BTCTerrainman we just have to agree to disagree. Metal armies die from breakages/flaking after about 2 years use (about 80 games) in my experience. My 3D prints are still running after about 4 years of the same usage. Yes I do lose the odd part but that is easy to replace when its 3D. Hell AOTRS Shipyards even does spare turrets if you lose/break them.

My 1/144 infantry is a bit fragile but that is because they are not circus freaks like the metal ones with arms worthy of a 20 year old tree trunk and the clothing crease depth of impossible size.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP25 Sep 2021 8:27 p.m. PST

Naturally. You play the Right Way, and everyone else is wrong. As always.

UshCha26 Sep 2021 4:31 a.m. PST

John the OFM you mean I'm just like you only I am more polite than you.

gregmita2 Supporting Member of TMP26 Sep 2021 12:49 p.m. PST

Guys, it's always good to remember that we do this for fun. The best way to make and play with miniatures is not something worth fighting over. There's plenty of room for whichever path you prefer.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2021 4:53 a.m. PST

Metal armies die after 2 years?
I have 1000 syw Old glory 15s that are 24-26 years old , all fine, survived two cats and 100s of battles.+ naps same…
Don't sit on them.

3d is changing buying. It can change games by allowing even more choices and creativity. I am far from patient and technical to use it. Unfortunately.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2021 6:20 p.m. PST


UshCha 26 Sep 2021 4:31 a.m. PST
John the OFM you mean I'm just like you only I am more polite than you.

I don't care how anyone else plays. Play nuts and bolts games from the 70s, play Scissors Paper Rock, obsess over what tribe your Orks are, play TSATF for AWI (like I do), I don't care. You obviously do.
I'm not the one who calls out others for playing with painted figures.
I could go on about your delusion of superiority attitude, but I won't.

TSD10110 Oct 2021 12:41 p.m. PST

3d printing isn't going to just change miniatures, but many facets of life. I can see a not too distant future where 3d metal printing becomes cheap enough for the home and you can print replacement parts for vehicles, tools, etc. at home.

Metal armies die from breakages/flaking after about 2 years use (about 80 games) in my experience.

How roughly are you handling those figures? My group has figures 40 years old that are still going strong.

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