Sunday, 28 February 2016

3D Printing

There is a steep learning-curve on this 3D printing lark. Not only do you have to get to grips with the operation of the printer itself, but there is software to convert a 3D model into the actual print-code to be mastered. And that's assuming you use an existing model; designing your own things requires learning how to use suitable software. Fortunately there are some great designs for things around on the web, which can be used to try the printer out.

I have been playing around with more of Marco Bergman's lovely tank designs. The problem I have with the is not the designs themselves, but the software which converts his 3D models into a set of print instructions. It would seem that if a model is below a certain size then the software won't automatically generate supports for 'hanging' structures, such as the guns. This means that they don't print, or print very badly. You can reorientate the objects to try and force the printer to do them, but that creates issues of its own. So a lot of the tanks I have tried to print just haven't come out. The hulls are mostly good, but the turrets and guns are a mess. The software doesn't allow the manual insertion of support structures either, which is annoying. Those can be added by editing the original files, but that's a skill all its own. I have tried it and it's going to take some time to master. The alternative is to find a better piece of conversion software.

Anyway, it hasn't all been disasters; here's a 1/200th KV2 3D design, scaled down to 1/300th.

I have tried printing figures as well. On the right are some generic, geometric archers which are designed to replace the figure blocks in Command & Colours Ancients. They are part of a set of such elements, including infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants, and I will probably explore them in more detail later. The base needed a little bit of cleaning up, but nothing too drastic. And it printed very easily.

On the left is a 15mm square base with some very, very simplistic soldier designs using simple cylinders. I actually put that together myself in Sketchup, then printed it. Rudimentary, but I am please with how it turned out for a first attempt.

I messed around with prints for most of yesterday, but for the reasons described above had little success until I switched to less ambitious designs with simpler shapes and a larger size. This is a 1/300th house, with a ruined version. It's actually scaled at 1/300th; I suspect for actual gaming purposes I'd resize it to about 2/3 of it's current size.

And finally this. It's part of a set of 18mm Dwarves I found. I scaled it up to match my partially painted Mantic 25/28mm Dwarves, and it came out very nicely indeed. It's a good couple of inches tall, and printed like a dream, being designed to require minimal support. It took just over 2 hours to print, and you can see that the 18mm detail came out OK at the larger scale.

I think it's going to be a while before I produce anything truly spectacular, but at the moment it's interesting trying out the whole process.

Oh, and the models do switch from being printed in yellow plastic to blue plastic. The printer came with a fairly limited amount of material, which I used up testing it. The blue is a proper 1kg roll of plastic, which should last me for a while.

Note: If you are reading this post on then you are reading a stolen version. Please go to 'The Stronghold Rebuilt for the original posts. Thank you.


  1. I like the KV2. Looks like a bathroom rubber duck.

    "KV2 you're the one,
    You make war time lots of fun.
    KV2 I'm awfully fond of you..."

  2. And there was me thinking we'd just have to press a button and a whole army of toy soldiers would pop out of the printer...oh well maybe one day.

  3. keep up the good work Kaptain, I look forward to you teaching us all how to use these things. Love the terrain.

  4. Ever since I first heard of 3D printing I've been fascinated by the potential for printing minis. Thanks for posting on your experiences!


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