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Pre-Painted Plastics vs Metal and related Debate


Sergei
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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.

True enough. But the customizable factor of 3d may outweigh that cost. Plus some people are just a little ignorant of the cost of consumables. After all, there were plenty of people downloading scanned copies of the D&D rule books and printing them out at home who felt they were getting something for free - in reality, they probably spent more on paper and ink than just buying the rule book would have cost them.

 

Do YOU want a wax miniature?

The printers I've seen, and actually have samples of their output aren't wax. They are a starch like compound that is impregnated with a chemical similar to superglue. Very machinable material, very sturdy. Kind of like resin without the oilyness or odor. Takes paint well, too. It does have a very rough surface, so isn't conducive to the fine details like we see on pewter.

 

The technology is almost at the point where someone could buy one of these printers and create a hobbyist based business around it. I've actually worked up a business plan to do so. My sales estimates were VERY conservative, and with those numbers I was about 10-15% short of the break even point. That was two years ago. I'm watching the cost and capabilities of the 3d printers, and I'm hoping to actually launch something with one once my sales estimates put me at about double my break even point (assuming I still have the cash reserve set aside and available.)

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What I like to see in any discussion like the 3D printer one is Kristof's post, above: "business plan" "conservative sales estimate" "break even point". Absolute breath of fresh air. How often do you see that in discussions in hobby circles? It's always, I bet this, I reckon that, I conjecture something else.

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[sarcasm]Why thanks for asking spike. I only use miniatures that I have cast at home in my own spin caster, right after I vulcanize the rubber molds in my oven. [/sarcasm]

 

I find RTV works better and cheaper than having an oven capable of ten tons of pressure at 300C. :)

 

For home production that is. Nothing in the minature figure business beats that slightly tense moment when you jack up the pressure on a master mold.

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What I like to see in any discussion like the 3D printer one is Kristof's post, above: "business plan" "conservative sales estimate" "break even point". Absolute breath of fresh air. How often do you see that in discussions in hobby circles? It's always, I bet this, I reckon that, I conjecture something else.

 

As a veteran of the world of purchasing and corporate product, I can safely vouch that "business plan," "conservative sales estimate," and "break even point" are very much code for "I bet this," "I reckon that," "I conjecture something else."

 

I hear corporate speak all day long where I work, and 90% of it means absolute zero. A plan is a plan, no matter what you call it. If it's good and scibbled on a napkin in half-jibberish, it's still good. If it's bad and written by the Shakespeare of lawyers, it's still gonna end up being bad.

 

Same was said about computers for a long time. What would regular people need one for? I'm betting if 3D-printers are affordable people will find uses for them

 

 

 

There are people who would want them, yes. But you have to consider the uses of the thing in the larger context, versus just thinking that somebody would find a use for it somewhere. Yes, you would have small armies of ladies working arts and crafts, and you will have even smaller armies of gamers and other modellers. But that sort of thing is much less general and much more niche than a home computer. A regular printer prints out your taxes for you, but you don't need your taxes rendered in 3D. Some business dude somewhere has plenty of uses for graphs and charts, but they would be unwieldy if they were twenty pounds' worth of wax resin.

 

You're looking at a product whose place is behind a counter at a specialty shop, and in that area, sales would be moderate to good. Put it in the same terms as photocopiers: they are extremely useful, but the size and cost have always been prohibitive to the regular consumer, especially with regards to how much use he is going to get out of it and how practical it is to maintain it. Thus, being a niche market, photocopiers remain behind counters or in groups in offices and specialty stores such as Kinko's. Despite the fact that the modern world demands multiple copies of things all the time, and that they were available before home computers were, we still never got to the point where we all owned a copier. (And now we don't have to, since computers can do all that stuff for us.)

 

Now think of the nature of the 3D printer. It's not nearly as practical a tool as a copier. You can't bet on Joe Average "finding a use" for something as esoteric as a 3D printer. You would have to assume that everybody is creative, a collector, or at least part-time self employed, and that just is not the case. And the number who are, is not large enough to sustain a market of cheap, affordable home 3D printers engineered with small footprints.

 

The market probably would support larger such devices behind the counter of your more successful model train stores, etc.

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"As a veteran of the world of purchasing and corporate product, I can safely vouch that "business plan," "conservative sales estimate," and "break even point" are very much code for "I bet this," "I reckon that," "I conjecture something else.""

 

Maybe. But in small business they're a good indicator of whether you're dead-for-certain or only probably dead.

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