3D Printing as the Future of TableTop

Hey guys,

There was a really interesting off topic discussion on another thread on how the market of tabletop gaming is evolving to account for the advances in 3D printing. I was interested in reading more about it from your guys experiences and also to gain insight in what companies are doing what.

I know that the company Raging Heroes (among others) is offering patreon based subscriptions for 3D printable files. I was interested in people’s experiences with these kind of services and how you feel about the idea?

I personally think it won’t take over fully for a while, because for me at least there is something to be said about buying a box of cheap plastics and not having to mess around with my computer, but what do you guys think?

Fang

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I know a few people who have gone balls deep into it, but honestly I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole.
I’m more than happy to get my miniatures from a company ready made.
The Raging Heroes paetron is a good example because it doesn’t come with supports which means a large amount of your hobby goes into working out how to print the model before actually getting it (I know that they have started offering supports as an additional thing but even they are having issues with it, which goes to show how new a technology it is)
Maybe in another 20 or 30 years when the tech reaches the point that it’s required, but for me at least as long as real toys are being produced I’d rather pay for those then for another subset of a hobby

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There will be a time when 3D printing will be the basics for Wargaming. Possibly the miniatures will be supplied coloured too, eliminating the painting aspect of the hobby.

It’ll be a sad day, as I do like that aspect of the hobby. But then again, there’s a few people practicing book binding as a hobby today and this has been machinated for ages too.

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Major advantage with 3 printed models is that if you plan on going into some sort of mass production you can play around with sprue layouts and where thebbest place to “cut” the miniatures to create molds that work, excellent for R&D for companies, or if you want that “one off” miniature from home… with the cost of Resin printers now being close to filament printers I see 3D printing as quite… optimal for most cases… if i had a PC and resin printer I’d start work on a line of 10/15mm miniatures with monsters, behemoths, dragons etc etc as there is a growing scene around smaller scales… but 3d printing as a tool to create better miniatures at a overall lower cost? Yeah I see that it has a solid future…

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How would you prepaint a miniature?? The resin (better for details hence the example) would have to be dyed the mix of colours… but you would end up with a tie/dye style miniature… precoloured 3D printers won’t ever be a thing due to technical restraints

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strangely my brother does some book binding in his spare time. I don’t think we’ll ever see the removal of miniatures completely as a hobby. There are many people who don’t game but simply build and paint, and to that end it will be protected.
But as Don Featherstone once said, miniature wargaming is the perfect cottage industry and I rue the day when it gets obliterated by large companies coming in.
Time will tell I suppose

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there are already several companies attempting to do prepaints with 3D prints. Heroforge, for example, is working on a system whereby dyes are impregnated between the layers of the print to add colour. It’s expensive and not particularly good at present, but for RPG fans who don’t paint it has resonated with them.
The technology will get better over time

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Here is the current state of prepainted prints for people who are interested.

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I think a lot of it is a reaction to the rising price-point of some products. There is a significant time investment as it is. Adding 3d printing on top is a step too far for me. If third party printing becomes cheap enough then possibly it could be.

Why I reference cost so much is that a lot of the times I see what are clearly people who are at a point where disposable income is not a problem arguing the point that the cost can be easily absorbed. Yet seldom do I see anyone mention that this should also be accessible to well you know … kids and young adults. Mass produced will still win in the long run purely based on cost.

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I have two 3d printers, a Anycubic Photon resin printer and a Prusa Mk3S FDM printer. The Photon mainly used for miniatures, while the Prusa is used for terrain and other stuff, such as seed planters for my wife.

I found both printers easy to use as long as you read the manual and spend some time researching on the internet. The quality is more than good enough for my needs, it’s mostly down to the user. When it comes to quality resin prints is the way to go, but its more expensive, the print area is usually smaller, and its messy compared to FDM.

It will take a couple of years before resin printing is “user friendly” but it will take less than 20, once the patents run out a lot of technology will be more available. As an example Formlabs sell resin printers where you don’t have to mess around with the resin, but the price is steep.

Here an example printed on the Prusa, this is straight off the print bed with no prep, it needs a bit of sanding and some clean up. Would it be better printed on a resin printer, yes, is it good enough for my needs, yes. The cost is probably around 3-4£ in materials.



And here are the seed planters :grin:

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I print a lot with my Elegoo Mars, a resin unit, and I love it. Mostly miniatures so far but a few functional pieces are in the design process for me. For the home user, I don’t see 3D printing taking over. It’s effort and time. Though, I think an argument could be made that it’s a bit of a wash on that trade since I am not spending time removing mold lines anymore but am spending time thoughtfully placing supports in software so that I have clean, successful models.
There’s also a significant investment of money and time up front to just get started. Saying a given miniature only costs a few cents of resin is correct but there was many hours and several hundreds of dollars spent getting there. Or you could just get a box of miniatures off the shelf and move on with your day.
I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t think most people are going to flock to 3D printing because of its many barriers, but maybe some day those will be solved.
If you want to know the demand for 3D printed miniatures more generally, I would keep an eye out on sites like Etsy where sellers get the commercial licenses from Patreon artists and sell you the 3D prints. But from the perspective of the end user, is that any different than buying a box of miniatures on a sprue?

I’m casually printing three different armies right now, so I think I have come out ahead on the cost factor, but if I didn’t genuinely enjoy 3D printing, I don’t think it would be worth it.

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My goal is to dive in towards the end of this year, in large part because my favorite sculpts these days are from Patreon artists* and army gaming requires so many duplicates that I can’t really stomach going through an Etsy printer. Plus printers cost SO much less these days than I imagined. If there’s something I’m not looking forward to, it’s placing supports and suffering through failed prints … but them’s the breaks. I’m hoping my drive to tinker overwhelms initial frustration :sweat_smile:

*And Mierce of course :triumph:

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You don’t need to print much to come out ahead with the budget resin printers, they cost less than 300$ with shipping and a couple of litres of resin.

With one bottle that costs around 55$ I have printed for Warhammer 40K, 12 BlightLord Terminators, 2 Disco Lords and for Battle Fleet Gothic 3 Hive Ships, 5 Cruisers, 15 Krakens 30 drones + lots of ordnance. I also printed some other bits and bobs and I still had resin to spare. That just there are miniatures worth more than what I paid for the printer and resin. So in the first week of having my Anycubic Photon it was paid down. I probably spent 10 hours supporting the 40K stuff while the BFG fleet was pre-supported.

I have also printed 100+ miniatures for KoW so if my Photon breaks it’s no biggie. I expect the LCD screen to short out soonish, probably before summer, but that is a 30$ replacement.

I understand that not everyone wants to fiddle around with 3d printing, but compared to what it costs to buy the miniatures, especially if you want comparable quality, it costs nothing. I feel that it takes less time to clean up the resin prints than it takes to remove mold lines from store bought alternatives, so even with the time spent supporting miniatures for printing I probably spend less time in total.

For me at least it was the right choice :slight_smile:

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Send me a message when you’re ready and I’ll get you hooked up with a really efficient workflow that will get you going with good prints and few failures. :grin:

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Agree. For 40k, I have printed about $2000 worth of Forge World equivalents in the last month or so. So for that project alone I am way ahead in the money game.

I just did the six month overhaul on the printer two nights ago. LCD screen burned out, pin hole in the FEP, and resin leaked into the machine housing. Took about six hours but I’m back up and printing!

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As a public service announcement, anyone who is using a resin printer should ABSOLUTELY be using a stick on gasket underneath their vat. When a leak happens, it will save yourself hours of work cleaning.

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Now these are nice, and show one of the benefits of 3d printing. Designers can take a risk with designs without the massive financial gabble.

Would love an army of these for Kings of War.

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There’s also this guy who is sculpting whole armies as modular minis for Kings of War. He did the whole Varangar and Sylvan kin lines already.

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For me, it’s a non-starter with current tech. Too much of a time sink and with miniatures, getting the time to paint them is more of a bottleneck than affordability, especially with companies like Mantic around. 10 hours making supports and 6 hours scrubbing resin leaks sound like the last kind of thing I’d want to be doing with my time, I think it’s definitely true that you have to see it as a separate hobby that you’re also interested in. There is boring prep work involved with pre-bought minis as well, but it doesn’t require full attention.

I do see potential with terrain, though, since there isn’t as much variety out there and detailed terrain can be very pricy, if I get one it’ll be a PLA printer with every possible upgrade to make it less annoying to use.

Yes, I think viewing it as a separate, but parallel, hobby is a good way to frame it. And you are certainly correct that it does take time. For me, the time is a bit of a wash since I would have putting a roughly equivalent amount of time cleaning mold lines, filling gaps, etc.

It certainly opens a door when it comes to terrain. There’s fantastic terrain that can be created with 3D printers that look better than what most people can make by hand using traditional techniques.