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Pre-Painted Plastics vs Metal and related Debate


Sergei
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So these 3d printers you guys have mentioned. How exactly does that translate to a plastic or metal mini? I'm a machinist by trade so i can understand getting an autocad program to make a mold of something that makes a program for said mold etc etc. And from there you go with some kind of injection with plastics or aluminum molds that you use with soft metal injection or lost metal foundry work with harder metals. But what kind of techno goodies are we talking about process wise of how you go from i'm assuming a laser 3d scan of something to actual figure on the table? I'm a geek at heart but i've never heard of those production processes to render a resin based plastic figure from scan of a master to actual figure in one step. Would be cool if somebody had an idea of what i could geek out on with a google search.

 

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The discussions I've seen on a garage kit forum have talked about 2 kinds of 3D printers. Both start with a 3D CAD model of the object to print. The printed object becomes the master for conventional moldmaking.

 

One type has a bath of the appropriate chemicals and uses a laser or crossed-lasers to initiate polymerization. By rastering the lasers repeatedly, the 3D object is built from the newly created polymer.

 

The other type is basically a wax jet printer. The 3D object is built in layers from a hard wax (similar to the hard wax used by sculpters and jewelers).

 

(this is separate from the units which are CAD/CAM machining the object out of a block of wax)

 

hopefully that is a start.

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Guys I hate to burst the bubble here on 3d printing but you will not be seeing a readily affordable rapid prototyper ANYTIME soon. Maybe in a bout 10 or 20 years at the least. And even then these machines will not be producing models of the kind of quality we are accustomed to now with hand sculpted models.

 

The way the process works is a little more complex than I feel like explaining, and I do not even fully understand it myself. Suffice to say that the end result could be compaerd to an image of an 3d model in a resolution rendering. The process creates little " jaggies " along any surface that is not parallell with the printer plate. The higher the resolution the finer the jaggies but they are still there. At best they would look like fingerprints COVERING the model. And at that resolution you are talking DAYS to print. Then once it IS printed you have got to file off all those jaggies from every surface, IF the material will allow for it. Take that into account with the fact that there is still no " easy " button for producing the 3d models, which take an average of a few days to complete on modestly detailed figures with modest resolution ( poly count ), then take THAT into account with the fact that you STILL have to mold and cast to mass produce, and you have a manufacturing recipe that still does not come close to what can be produced the old fashioned way..... Ability + Plan + Time + Resources.

 

Maybe one day this will be the industry standard but it won't be happening anytime soon. This was a buzz topic for the industry YEARS ago and still has not come to fruition.

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Guys I hate to burst the bubble here on 3d printing but you will not be seeing a readily affordable rapid prototyper ANYTIME soon. Maybe in a bout 10 or 20 years at the least. And even then these machines will not be producing models of the kind of quality we are accustomed to now with hand sculpted models.

 

I never said they'd be at the resolution we're accustomed to from hand sculpts. But there will be affordable 3d printers sooner than that. Remember, people were quite comfortable using 75 dpi, 60dpi, and even 24 dpi printers that took a miniute or more to print a page for a LONG time before 600dpi laser printers became affordable in the home. Sure, in the eighties, the professional way to do print work was to send your copy down to the typesetter for them to run it on their $100k typesetting machine. But that wasn't stopping millions of people from picking up a $600 Commodore 64 and it's $400 9 pin dot matrix printer to run simple reports and type letters to Grandma on or make D&D character sheets. Since I've seen people drop $6k for a color laser printer for their home computer in the late 90s, I have no doubt we'll see people willing to drop $10k for low resolution 3d printers when they get to that point.

 

And even if people don't buy them for home, when the printers start getting into the $10k range (which is surely going to be within the next 5-10 years), you'll start seeing them pop up in more businesses outside the 3d prototyping and engineering realm. Once they show up in businesses only doing light engineering work, you can bet that those printers will start seeing their off hours used to print things like terrain and orcs by various employees, much as happened with the early laser printers.

 

Sure, you might be printing off hordes of poorly colored ocs in low resolution with jaggies all over them. But people will still do it.

Yes, it will be 30, 40, 50 years or probably more before 3d printers kill off the pewter hobby. But long before then they'll have an impact on gaming.

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One company is developing a "Consumer" level 3d printer for sale within 3 years, price point <$2000. It doesn't have the res to handle miniatures, but for terrain or other items, it will probably work fine. It wouldn't suprise me if someone, in parallel, develops a higher res model for smaller objects.

 

With printers, price seems to stay fairly constant in terms of resolution versus build volume. So for the same amount of money, you can get a very high res printer for small objects, or low res printer for large objects. And these prices are falling.

 

Within the past few years, prices have been steadily falling. Some models used to cost 60k, and have now fallen to around 15k for machines with the same resolution.

 

The Perfactory is around 50k for the large version, and 14k for the desktop model.

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Well, let's see...Ral Partha's gone.

 

...

 

Ultimately, Ral Partha and TSR, as well as other companies were victims of that craze, failing to survive it.

 

Are you aware that the principals of Ral Partha are behind Iron Wind Metals? IWM is basically Partha with a different name.

 

Also, don't forget Mega Miniatures. Their sculpts aren't bad, and they give very good bang for the buck.

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kristof65, sorry, I missed your post about the 3d printers.

 

According to Wired, the Desktop Factory is going to have a model that runs about $5000 to $7000 for office rapid prototyping use.

 

No, not cheap enough for regular home use anytime soon, but there will come a point 10, 15, 20 years from now when they will have an impact when the costs come down. Think about laser printers. The first one from Apple was $7,000 (or so) retail. Last year, I bought this terrific color laser printer from Dell for $500 (affectionately known as the "Big Black Monster").

 

They will have an impact. Won't kill off the industry, but the business model will need to change and adapt.

 

Ron

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I just don't see me ever having a need for a 3D printer. It seems it wouldn't be something everyone would need in their home. This factor would tend to keep the price a little higher. A hobbyist might consider it, or an architect, but Joe Schmoe desk jockey who plays disc golf would have very little use for one.

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^^^^^ And thus will the industry that could produce such machines consider as well. Anybody can find a use for a printer on a regular enough basis that they can justify spending the money on a home printer. Thus does the supply exist. VERY few could find a use for a 3 d printer on a regular enough basis to justify spending the money for a home 3d printer. And so also the supply probably will not ever exist. Even if a 3d printer WAS economicly feasible to pursue from a manufacturing and retail distributuion stand point we are still right back to the other points I made earlier. you MIGHT get decent figures printed over a day or two of moderate detail and moderate resolution in like 6 or 4 inch scale, but 30 mm scale..... I think not.

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I just don't see me ever having a need for a 3D printer. It seems it wouldn't be something everyone would need in their home. This factor would tend to keep the price a little higher. A hobbyist might consider it, or an architect, but Joe Schmoe desk jockey who plays disc golf would have very little use for one.

Well, I heard the same comments about Laser Printers in the early 80s. As it stands right now, no, it's mostly the hobbyists who would be interested. But that could change if someone finds a cool new use for the 3d output that we all figure we have to have. Also, there are a _lot_ of hobbyists who could find such a machine useful - including, but not limited to - scrapbookers, model railroad fans, gamers, jewelry designers, dollmakers, model builders and so on. If the cost comes down enough, the market will emerge.

 

^^^^^ And thus will the industry that could produce such machines consider as well. Anybody can find a use for a printer on a regular enough basis that they can justify spending the money on a home printer. Thus does the supply exist. VERY few could find a use for a 3 d printer on a regular enough basis to justify spending the money for a home 3d printer. And so also the supply probably will not ever exist. Even if a 3d printer WAS economicly feasible to pursue from a manufacturing and retail distributuion stand point we are still right back to the other points I made earlier. you MIGHT get decent figures printed over a day or two of moderate detail and moderate resolution in like 6 or 4 inch scale, but 30 mm scale..... I think not.

First point - how many people can justify going out and buying a table saw and other assorted woodworking tools for $300, $400 even $1000. A lot of people justify these types of purchases with one or two projects. So not having a regular use of a 3d printer doesn't mean people won't justify the purchase to themselves. And, in my experience, hobbyists are even more likely to be able to justify an expense like that - sometimes on the coolness factor alone.

 

However, I do see your point - I think the 3d printers will wind up being in the same niche as the hobbyist laser cutters. No, they aren't as wide spread as regular printers, but they're available for less than $1000. The other thing you don't mention is that right now, someone has to physically design the model to be printed in a 3d design package. That takes a lot of time, but as the printers come down in price, you'll see ready built libraries of 3d objects intended for printing emerge.

 

Your second point - well, I've seen a hot wheel size car printed on a $25,000 machine in less than 2 hours that looked pretty good. I've also seen action figures designed and printed on the same printer that had pretty good detail, and most kids would be more than willing to play with them. A 30mm scale figure will print in less than an hour on the machines I've seen, and the quality is no worse than some of the early plastics, albeit with a rougher surface.

 

My prediction? One of the first mainstream hobbyist uses you'll see from these 3d printers will be in the model railroad industry - someone out there will start using one to sell custom train engine and car pieces for serious hobbyists. Of course, the buyer will have to smooth out the jaggies themselves, but it will often be the case where that is easier than scratchbuilding their desired locomotive or railroad car.

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Cold Navy and CAV both had a great many models done in rapid-prototyping, and JB Ross recently sold several extremely detailed 15mm scale masters derived from RP for a couple of grand or thereabouts.

 

As for home printing, until recently home printing was actually pretty uneconomical for large items, due to the high per-page cost. So I'd say GW style plastic minis will be safe in price terms, and cast metal will be safe in aesthetic terms. Do YOU want a wax miniature? I wouldn't be betting on home-printed armies anytime in the next 20 years, but home-printed spare parts and special bits, for sure.

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