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How has 3D printing changed the hobby for you?


Illithar
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I was doing a bit of introspection on my time with the hobby (mini collecting, painting, etc.) the other day and thought how 3D printing has changed what and how I paint. Prior to getting into it I was always hesitant to purchase or paint 'big' things: figurines, busts, big monsters and such. They always cost so much more, even big stuff in Bones (like Khanjira) while more affordable than any traditional casting method it is still spendy. And then I was always worried about messing up the paint job, or breaking it in the case of some stuff like Creature Caster. So I just didn't and I focused on 'character sized' stuff generally. 

 

But after getting into 3D printing I started getting more bold. I've painted a not-Gojira and 1:10 scale figurine, both of which I have posted on these forums. Why? Well, I can always print another one if I mess up can't I? Sure it's not a small amount of resin, but it's still less than buying them traditionally. No shipping, product out of stock or discontinued, miscasts, etc. I'm also not doing as many 'character scale' or tabletop stuff anymore. I still do some, but it's just not as interesting. Stuff that was difficult or expensive to get before is so much more accessible. Fan art sculpts of various characters, as well as original stuff that would never had seen the light of day without 3D printing! 

 

I'm curious if it's just me that feels a bit more emboldened, or even had their tastes changed a bit by diving into 3D printing. Or have your interests been reinforced or shifted in a different way?

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I’m only just starting (getting a resin printer for Christmas). For me I think it increases the variety of minis available by a considerable margin as a sculptor’s costs are limited to the sculpting software and computer costs (plus some selling costs).

 

They don’t have to pay to get the sculpted green cast, guess the number they might sell, sit on the inventory until it sells and physically post the minis out as people buy them.

 

All that allows a lot more financially marginal sculpts to be made that wouldn’t be made it a run of 100+ minis had to be cast up in advance.

 

I also like that digital minis can be scaled up and down easily. Some scale better than others (some start to look out of proportion when scaled too much) but in general it seems easy to make small, medium and large sizes of the same mini just by increasing or decreasing the printing size.

 

The same goes for being able to get easy variants. Mirror image versions make for easy, but slightly different minis and, while I’m sure it’s not quite so easy, sculptors would probably find it easier to reposition limbs to create slightly different poses much easier than having to sculpt a completely new mini from scratch. So you get much more variety in posing.

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1 minute ago, Auberon said:

Money I once spent on physical minis now gets spent on Patreon.  Not that I never buy physical products anymore, but it is certainly less.

 

It also saves space.  Should everything stored on my HDD suddenly materialize I would be buried beneath a pile of minis.

Yeah, my pile of shame is now digital! 😂

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Okay, how has it changed my purchasing? I first look for a STL file before buying a mini. On my Battletech, I have a couple of Patreon accounts, that if I had had them before the Battletech Clan Invasion, I probably would have spent $300 less on. My new Ender6 turns out GREAT tabletop quality prints, still not up to the level of beauty than resin can provide, but closing in. I still need to install the .2mm nozzle and I believe it will give even better results. For my RPG Pathfinder/Starfinder stuff, it is delivering really nice results. The biggest problem with minis on FDM right now is that the majority of designers are basing minis on resin printer capabilities and FDM is a back thought. Hopefully this will improve.

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39 minutes ago, geologist said:

What 3D printer brand do you use? I live in a 3 bedroom townhome, but with no garage, so I don't currently have space for one. But would like to keep a list of good brands for future reference. 

Elegoo Mars 2 Pro

11 minutes ago, Corsair said:

Okay, how has it changed my purchasing? I first look for a STL file before buying a mini. On my Battletech, I have a couple of Patreon accounts, that if I had had them before the Battletech Clan Invasion, I probably would have spent $300 less on. My new Ender6 turns out GREAT tabletop quality prints, still not up to the level of beauty than resin can provide, but closing in. I still need to install the .2mm nozzle and I believe it will give even better results. For my RPG Pathfinder/Starfinder stuff, it is delivering really nice results. The biggest problem with minis on FDM right now is that the majority of designers are basing minis on resin printer capabilities and FDM is a back thought. Hopefully this will improve.

I guess purchasing is a big part of it, but really any part of it. Purchasing is a big part of it, since 3D printing is a whole new avenue to acquiring mini's. As @Olaf the Stout mentioned, the ability to scale and mirror files is something entirely unique to 3D printing. I haven't done too much of it myself, but at some point I really should.

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Haven't gotten a printer yet but will be soon...  The resin printer has me actually looking at larger scale items, as well as things like busts.  I'll balk at paying $200 for a model, but if I can get it and a bunch of others of the same theme for $30 USD...  Well, let's just say a tiny bit of looking and thinking effectively sealed the deal for the resin printer. 

 

I'll figure out the logistics later, but I have a few ideas. 

 

As for FDM... There's a lot of options for what I want terrain wise that do pretty much exactly what I want... 

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Yeah, 3D printing has got me interested in painting busts. Busts are generally a bit pricier to buy, and I’ve never painted one before, so I’ve always been reluctant to try it out.

 

However, with 3D printing I can print one for a couple of dollars, so there’s no fear of mucking it up as I can just print another one.

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3d printing has allowed me to have minis of things that mini companies don't want to make. Other races of zombies, skeletons, ghouls, etc etc - 3d printing. Oddball creatures that don't exist in prepainted or produced minis - 3d printing has it. It does have a ups & down (currently I'm in the down phase of printing) but overall it's been a fun ride & one I'll continue to enjoy. MY FLGS owner said something regarding 3d printing the other day, he said he worries about the industry & how 3d printing will make miniatures & miniature games obsolete. I totally disagree with him there. 3d printers are just anther tool for the hobby. I don't they'll ever replace physical miniatures.

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I haven't used it yet, but I see it as another tool in my bag.

 

With the insane amount of 3D models that exist now, I see the biggest gain in custom terrain. A lot of terrain tile makers are using standard sizes and compatible clips, making it easy to mix and match different sets. And I backed enough terrain kits to build several cities, villages and various other buildings.

 

Sure, we still need to paint everything. And the printing itself is still a bit fiddly and time consuming. But it's improving year by year.

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For me, 3d printing has allowed me to expand on my minis.....picking and choosing which ones I need for an upcoming campaign, and not having to worry if one of the manufacturers has what I am looking for. I am also able to scale up (or down) models to suit my needs. 3d printing has also enabled me to custom design character models for my 2nd ed AD&D game. With the files I currently have, I think I can print pretty much any monster/character I can possibly think of for my games. Terrain is the same.....I have enough inn and tavern files for near endless options.

 

As printers get more complex, and the build volume and detail of the prints get better and better, I really don't think I'll be purchasing many figs in the future. When it comes to painting.....well that is an aspect of the hobby that I still need to find more time to do 🙂

Reverend Shartan

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3d printing has enhanced my hobby in three different ways:

1. My Prusa FDM printer sped up my production of terrain, and made it better. I've always been a big builder of terrain for the wargaming table, so adding the Prusa was just another tool. I enjoy scratch building structures, so I mostly print things like modular wall sets and detail parts like windows and doors for my foam core buildings. 

2. Acquiring minis for the more niche games I play, such as Warmaster, which I only play a couple of times a year around the holidays.   Last year, before I got my resin printer, I spent $150 on 10mm minis for Warmaster, and still didn't have enough for a full 2nd Army.  This year, I've spent about $50, and I've been churning out enough prints to finish my orc army, and build a full Bretonnian army as well.  Now my dream of "reenacting" famous battles from my RPG setting of Iskitaan can finally come to fruition and within my budget. 

3. Allowing me to bring my own ideas to life. This has been the most significant way that it's been transformed. The best example is my Tycho AFV for my Reaper NOVA Corp minis.  I've long wanted them to have their own unique vehicle, and learning how to use  Fusion 360 allowed me to do just that.  I've designed several other vehicles (a tank for the IMEF and a modular line of vehicles) since then, as well as parts and pieces for detailing my foam core buildings. 
 

I have used my resin printer to print a few niche 28mm minis, but for the most part I'll stick with standard metal and plastic minis, mostly because I have so many of them thanks to things like five Bones Kickstarters that I generally already have what I need for various games. 

There is also a down side. I'm running out of space. I have a large house with a finished basement, half of which is dedicated to my gaming/minis hobbies. I am just about out of room to store terrain and minis cases, and I'm out of room in the minis cases I have. 

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As far as this affecting LGS', I do not see that happening for the foreseeable future. First, I don't see the purcgase price pint getting much below where it is currently. This will keep many from purchasing printers. Second, until the odor making issues are eliminated, many folks will not have them in their homes. Plus the fun of buying minis at the LGS will still be there. The prices of premade minis, even at $10 or so a piece for metal, will still not be an eliminating factor for many folks. And the space requirements will keep many folks from adding a printer to their home/apartment.

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Let’s be honest, 3D printing is a hobby in and of itself. Some people don’t want to have to learn how to print minis, they just want them already made and ready to paint (and some people want them already painted and ready to use).

 

It’s just like how the existence of home media servers haven’t caused streaming services to go out of business. People just want the media, they don’t want to have to maintain a piece of tech.

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