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I have no idea about Reaper's plans for that, but everything I have read and seen about the 3D printing industry & technology points to it being the future of things like this (and more). Just like when companies said "Websites? Online orders? What are those? We don't need that silly stuff. We have catalogs and contracts with brick & mortar stores!" 

 

There are already companies that sell files for minis and terrain. The hardware continues to improve and get lower in price, too. I can take files to my public library and print things there, paying only for the medium (plastic) by weight.

 

The printers that can handle the same level of detail as minis casting are still rare and/or $$$ for now, but I suspect that GW, Reaper et al will ultimately have to adapt or perish.

Edited by Kengar
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For now, printing a mini will either result in a poorly printed low-res version, or a very slow print of a high-res print.    

 

Libraries may charge just the material, for now, but I expect that to change sooner or later as they become more popular.  

Others usually price for print time,  not material.   

 

Some minis, such as skeletons or those holding thin weapons are the most difficult to print. 

 

At Fat Dragon they're pretty good at understanding which poses are easier to print, and take full advantage of that. Those poses may not always be the most desirable ones, though. 

 

That's just some of the printing issues. 

Then there's the licensing issues...

 

if someone buys a file for a mini, should they be allowed to print as many of that mini as they want, and if not, how do you stop them from doing it in a polite way?   

There's currently no IP DRM built into the STL file format, and a new format with that built-in will have a hard time getting acceptance at this time. 

A client-server or web-based slicer(the program you run to convert a STL file to actual print commands) will have a hard time getting acceptance, too. Particularly as it would need to be able to support existing printers.  

 

Many users prefer 'untethered' or 'headless' printing, which means the slicer is used to create a FILE with the print commands instead of sending them directly to the printer. This file is then loaded onto an SD-card and inserted into the printer. 

We do this for several reasons; some slicers have been known to not be 'perfectly stable' when left running for that many hours, we want to use the PC somewhere else, or we may have experienced issues with the PC and Printer connected through an USB-cable for extended periods of time. 

And when you have a print file on the card, it can be re-run as many times as you want...   

 

So there's no way of limit the IP usage with todays toolset, and introducing a new toolset is not going to be easy.

 

And if you do manage to implement a DRM-secured toolchain... what happens the first time a user buys an 'extra detailed, redesigned Kaladrax' file, with a production-limit, and the single print fails?

(yeah, prints fails... I have a 30L Milk Bucket fileld with elfed up prints and support structures. I really need to finish my recycler)

 

 

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There's also the issue that many of Reaper's sculpts (likely the majority) don't have digital versions. Their sculptors are still split between greenstuff and digital, and I would hate to see the traditional market go away. Other people may be able to list which sculptors work in which media - I can't. 

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You also have to consider the piracy issues. Sadly many people have "creative" interpretations of how copyright and IP laws actually work. This is why the music performers started relying on higher priced concert tickets and merchandise sales vs album/single sales to make a living, people started distributing and pirating their work rather than paying for it.

 

Plus as it stands now it is actually costs more to print a good quality version of a 30mm miniature. This may change in the future, and probably will, but right now you can get a cheaper and better quality figure by just buying it from Reaper. 

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28 minutes ago, Baphomet69 said:

The current stl file companies don’t have a big issue with piracy or DRM issues...

They don't right now. That doesn't mean they won't have a problem with it in the future and I can certainly see it become an issue.

 

And to Kengar's point I don't think printing of miniatures is going to put either Reaper or Warlord Games out of business, if they don't change. Adjustment perhaps, except for buildings I just don't really seeing the miniature army crowd wanting to try and print their armies one at a time. Obviously I can't speak for everyone, but I also don't think this is an issue at this point in time. I don't see any of the other miniature companies releasing the stl files for their renders yet. When that happens then perhaps a change is in order.

 

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6 hours ago, Baphomet69 said:

The current stl file companies don’t have a big issue with piracy or DRM issues...

 

Not yet, but once 3D printers come down in price you will be attracting more unsavory types who will look to make a buck.

You will have ebay flooded with counterfeits not only damaging Reaper's profit (and ultimately, the sculptor), but it will also tarnish Reapers image.

If I buy a counterfeit that is at 75%  detail of the genuine item, I probably wouldn't buy another Reaper mini.

 

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9 hours ago, SirGraham said:

 

Not yet, but once 3D printers come down in price you will be attracting more unsavory types who will look to make a buck.

You will have ebay flooded with counterfeits not only damaging Reaper's profit (and ultimately, the sculptor), but it will also tarnish Reapers image.

If I buy a counterfeit that is at 75%  detail of the genuine item, I probably wouldn't buy another Reaper mini.

 

One of the FB GW trading groups I'm on just booted a member because he was selling 3d printed Necrons. 

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15 hours ago, Heisler said:

They don't right now. That doesn't mean they won't have a problem with it in the future and I can certainly see it become an issue.

 

And to Kengar's point I don't think printing of miniatures is going to put either Reaper or Warlord Games out of business, if they don't change. Adjustment perhaps, except for buildings I just don't really seeing the miniature army crowd wanting to try and print their armies one at a time. Obviously I can't speak for everyone, but I also don't think this is an issue at this point in time. I don't see any of the other miniature companies releasing the stl files for their renders yet. When that happens then perhaps a change is in order.

 

 

I have purchased one 3D printed mini, a dino.

I like it and used it for my project.

However I will keep on buying metal and resin minis, and Bones.

 

I can understand the demand and in the future one  might be able to buy a code that is only viable for one print and then useless or something like that.

It is an amazing technology, but I like my minis the old fashioned way for now.

***Chews on a lead Grenadier Elf***

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