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3Dprinted Tiles

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Elstree writes:

I see that all these prototypes have only one fastener per side – either a tab or a socket in the center of the face. This limits the number of ways the tiles can be put together. You can't put two tabbed faces together, for instance.

Imagine instead if you divided each tile face in two. On the right-hand side of the tile face (as viewed from the center of the tile), you have a tab; on the left-hand side of the tile face, you have a socket. Now every tile face can be attached to any other tile face, and you'll have improved stability as well.

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16 August 2016page first published

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©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian writes:

Tiles – flat geometric pieces – are useful in wargaming for a number of things. You could use tiles to make dungeons or modular maps. Campaign maps can be built from tiles. You could even make a terrain system that was built using tiles.

So I decided to play around a bit with tiles.

Mighty Empire Parametric Blank Tile

I found this tile on Thingiverse – description says:

This is a model of a one-sided blank tile that should be compatible with Mighty Empire tiles.

It's also a parametric file, meaning in this case that it was built in the SCAD scripting language (which I talked about before). He provides both the STL file for 3Dprinting, and the SCAD file for those who want to make changes to the parameters or code. (It is not customizable live on the website.)

Here's how they turned out on my low-end 3Dprinter (I printed two of them for testing):

Campaign tiles

I used transparent red filament. The tiles are 60mm from side to side. The tiles looked good, but the tabs were too loose to hold the tiles together – they would just slide apart.

Campaign tiles

Fortunately, the design notes say:

There is a compensation section to adjust the tabs so the tiles will interlock properly.

I will open up the SCAD file and play with those settings in the future.


So I started wondering about other ways to connect tiles.

So I used the SCAD language to prototype some two-inch-square tiles with T-shaped connectors. The advantage of the T shape is that it is easy to print with a 3Dprinter – just straight lines. I also went with a larger connector size.

T-bar tiles

Printed in blue transparent filament. Still need work on the clearances…

Lumpy Tiles

Then I was looking at a 3D puzzle design, where the pieces fit together not by locking together, but simply by the geometry and being pressed together. So I did a prototype for that, too:

Lumpy tiles

For testing purposes, these are just one-inch-square tiles printed in black filament. Each side has a bump which fits into a recess in the opposite tile. The idea is that they will tend to stay in place because of the other tiles, perhaps ultimately with a frame to go around all of them.

As with all of these designs, the clearances still need work. Each 3Dprinter is different enough in its qualities, that tweaking is required to get the optimal fit.

So What Have I Learned?

Well, I've had some fun, played with some designs, but I'm still open to suggestions. Do you have any tiling advice for me?