Login |  Register |  FAQ
   
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 23 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

3D Printing as a Production Alternative

 Post subject: 3D Printing as a Production Alternative
PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2021 9:44 pm 
Brood Brother
Brood Brother

Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 4:35 am
Posts: 808
Location: New Jersey
This will be a ramble-ish post.

I have been running the business for over 10 years now, which is crazy to me. in that time I have seen the wargaming landscape change, drastically at times. The rise of crowdfunding, the explosion in 3D sculpting both from professionals and hobbyists, the impact of artist crowdfunding ventures like Patreon.

Being on Facebook, one thing that has been keenly obvious is that, especially for the niche markets I play in, 3D printing holds a pretty outsized role. I would hazard to say that these days, up to 75% of the posts I see are tied to 3D printing in some way, be it purchased items from a professional printing company or something a hobbyist or friend has printed. Seeing this, and seeing companies out there that operate entirely print-on-demand has made me question my business model of late. That and the fact that my casting machine burnt out earlier this week.

The crux of it is, I am strongly considering moving future scifi vehicle releases to 3D prints. Indeed, any release larger than 6mm infantry that doesn't typically sell much. This would reduce my operating costs by over half, it would reduce my time to market for certain projects by a ridiculous amount. It would make shipping weights remarkably lower. I could sell things for less than I normally would be able to. The only reason I am hesitant is that I personally prefer metal models.

The things that have really hit home with me lately though is the explosion of interest in Warmaster driven by 3D printing companies, as well as a poll I saw on the Warmaster group where people actually preferred either .stl files or physical prints to new companies releasing in metal. I know it is not a representative sample for other genres, but still...

So how would folks feel about purchasing resin-printed tanks and such? Below are some samples of things I have printed the past couple of days, and would be indicative of the quality I would be able to sell at:

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

_________________
For all your Dark Realm, 6mm scifi and 6mm fantasy needs: http://www.microworldgames.com/


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3D Printing as a Production Alternative
PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2021 9:50 pm 
Brood Brother
Brood Brother

Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 4:35 am
Posts: 808
Location: New Jersey
For some added color, I recently sent a new 6mm scifi release to a moldmaker. The high-res prints alone cost me about $400, the molds will run me at least another $8-$900, and then of course the cost to have a single MBT cast will probably be 75 cents to a 1 dollar given the rise in tin costs.

So that is basically $1400 I wouldn't have to spend if I just printed them for release myself. The place 3D printing fails is high volume. I could probably fit 8 tanks in 1 9-inch production mold. I can spin that every 5 minutes. I could produce tons of tanks each day. But the reality is, I sell almost nothing in high volume. One of my best selling vehicles over the past 4 years has been the New Terra MBT. I have sold 72 packs, 216 total tanks. So, printing 8 tanks at a time, each bed taking about 3.5 hours, that is a lot of work. But that is over 4 years.

_________________
For all your Dark Realm, 6mm scifi and 6mm fantasy needs: http://www.microworldgames.com/


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3D Printing as a Production Alternative
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 6:38 pm 
Brood Brother
Brood Brother

Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2003 4:26 pm
Posts: 7016
Location: Southfields, London, England
As someone who used to run a miniatures company, I much prefer 3D printing.

The only time I would prefer to buy metals is if I am buying in bulk and want to save money, and time cleaning up.

There is still the odd bits of flash when you buy metal anyway.

It allows for a much faster release schedule when it's all online too, the Heroforge option of letting people download the STL's to make tokens for online gaming is also cool.

I'm trying to set up a Roll20 game of Epic Armageddon at the moment :).

_________________
Tom Webb
Author Page: http://www.newtonwebb.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/thewebb
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thenewtonwebb
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/thenewtonwebb


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3D Printing as a Production Alternative
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 6:56 pm 
Brood Brother
Brood Brother

Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2003 4:26 pm
Posts: 7016
Location: Southfields, London, England
Also THANK YOU for the Warmaster idea. I had no idea they are gorgeous!!!

_________________
Tom Webb
Author Page: http://www.newtonwebb.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/thewebb
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thenewtonwebb
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/thenewtonwebb


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3D Printing as a Production Alternative
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 9:02 pm 
Brood Brother
Brood Brother
User avatar

Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:24 pm
Posts: 9445
Location: Manalapan, FL
Image

always loved that tank

_________________
He's a lawyer and a super-villian. That's like having a shark with a bazooka!

-I HAVE NO POINT
-Penal Legion-Fan list
-Help me make Whitescars not suck!


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3D Printing as a Production Alternative
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2021 1:51 pm 
Brood Brother
Brood Brother

Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:35 am
Posts: 3336
Location: Norrköping, Sweden.
i would go for 3D printing.

I've bought armies for both warmaster and a minihammer (10mm wFB) project from excellent miniatures and are very happy with the models.

This is the way.

_________________
https://epic40ksweden.wordpress.com/

"You have a right to be offended" - Steve Hughes
"Your feelings are hurting my thoughts" - Aron Flam


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3D Printing as a Production Alternative
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2021 6:01 pm 
Hybrid
Hybrid
User avatar

Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2007 11:25 pm
Posts: 9058
Location: Worcester, MA
You might be selling a pack of those tanks once every twenty days (72 / (4 * 365) => .05 / day) given those numbers, but it's a game of sums across your entire line not a game of averages. If you have 100 products that sell once every 20 days, that means you're going to be printing 5 packs a day. That seems like a pain in the ass to me given maintenance and the time you spend setting up, etc., to the point where I'd look for a "caster" equivalent in your area. Going to pick up a bulk print order every 2 months seems easier on you than dealing with maintenance and printing every day.

Personally, I've no problem with printed tanks so long as nothing is brittle. But I also wouldn't shift my entire business model based on a FB poll without trying things out on a small scale (3mm max, ba-dum-tssh). While I think 3D printed miniatures are here to stay, I'm not so sure about those who just hopped into Warmaster because their 3D printer let them. And honestly, I think that's what's weighting the "Printed models are better for me" answer in that poll. It would have been more informative to you if it were two answers:

"Models I print are better for me".
"3D printed models I buy are better form me."

The Warmaster group is inundated with people who have their own 3D printer, it seems like every third post is a "look what I printed!" post (good job guy, you going to print some paint too?). I think that that answer is more skewed toward the "models I print..." group, so changing your business model isn't going to affect how many packs you sell to them (they're not going to buy them anyway).

_________________
Dave

Blog

NetEA Tournament Pack Website

Squats 2019-10-17


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3D Printing as a Production Alternative
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2021 8:09 pm 
Brood Brother
Brood Brother

Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 4:35 am
Posts: 808
Location: New Jersey
I definitely won't be able to match the detail of Excellent Miniatures, they are using some $10k Asiga machines I think.

For the New Terra MBT specifically, sales look like:
Year 1: 20
Year 2: 10
Year 3: 24
Year 4: 19

Which is actually fairly unusual, as the first year I typically sell the lion's share of product. But really, that data is full of random outliers, like 2 people buy 6 packs each or something once a year. I was envisioning printing up enough for a year prior to release.

3D printing will definitely not totally replace metal casting for me, but it could make it a lot more viable to even release certain items at all. A lot of the scifi vehicles have sold about 10 spins worth of models over several years. At that point, it doesn't really make sense for them to have their own molds, or even make them in the first place. I have thought about switching to family molds and casting the scifi stuff myself, but finding someone to do contract moldmaking of good quality is a huge pain in the ass.

I will probably dip my toe in for a couple releases and see how it goes. I just figured that the technology is only going to get better at this point, so it might be good to start incorporating into my workflow.

For 1 scifi release molds may cost me $1k to $1200. I can buy 3 more sonic mini 4k's for that amount, and use them for any number of releases of other scifi vehicles it might not have made economic sense to release for sale.

_________________
For all your Dark Realm, 6mm scifi and 6mm fantasy needs: http://www.microworldgames.com/


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3D Printing as a Production Alternative
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2021 9:06 pm 
Brood Brother
Brood Brother

Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 11:44 am
Posts: 381
It sounds like a no brainer if you're talking about that kind of volume. I've found the Sonic Mini 4k easily matches any metal model I have for quality of finish. And as a material, even standard Elegoo Grey is pretty robust. 6mm Infantry is perfectly viable assuming the model design is sensible. I prefer resin to metal these days simply because of the weight. Drop a 6mm scale resin model, and it will probably just bounce. Dropping a metal model even from a few centimeters off the table will likely chip the paint, and probably dent the model. UV cure resin isn't great for modifying (cutting / sanding etc.) once it's cured, but that's a minor gripe.

_________________
Epic resource & proxy database:
http://miniwars.co.uk

Online solutions:
http://cloudlevel.me


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3D Printing as a Production Alternative
PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 2:42 pm 
Brood Brother
Brood Brother

Joined: Fri Jul 10, 2020 1:59 am
Posts: 24
One thing that I've always wanted was a "friend" with a 3d printer. Basically someone who will take the STL that I've found and print it out for me so that I don't need to buy my own printer and learn an entirely new set of skills. There has to be a price point where it would be profitable for you as a small business owner and agreeable to the customer. Maybe the answer is like a cost per hour of printing +materials+shipping? Just a thought.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3D Printing as a Production Alternative
PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 4:15 pm 
Brood Brother
Brood Brother

Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 11:44 am
Posts: 381
Alhazred wrote:
One thing that I've always wanted was a "friend" with a 3d printer. Basically someone who will take the STL that I've found and print it out for me so that I don't need to buy my own printer and learn an entirely new set of skills. There has to be a price point where it would be profitable for you as a small business owner and agreeable to the customer. Maybe the answer is like a cost per hour of printing +materials+shipping? Just a thought.


The real time spent can be in the preparation of 3D models before printing. If a "friend" received a random STL that they had not printed before, they would have to account for the possibility that the STL needed fixing / optimising. Then they would have to add supports, test print, probably fail one or more times, change the supports, print again, etc. Before you know it you've spent 6 hours just playing around with not a lot to show for your efforts. So assuming you pay at least basic wage + materials + shipping, that becomes one expensive miniature. ;) It's not quite the same as printing something from a catalogue of STLs that have been pre-processed.

That said, I'm sure there are people on places like etsy and fb that do offer print on demand services?

_________________
Epic resource & proxy database:
http://miniwars.co.uk

Online solutions:
http://cloudlevel.me


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3D Printing as a Production Alternative
PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 7:20 pm 
Brood Brother
Brood Brother
User avatar

Joined: Mon Dec 26, 2005 6:38 pm
Posts: 1645
Location: Chattanooga, TN, USA
My biggest question about 3D printed [resin] models is: How do they hold up in the long term?

Metal models last forever, for all intents and purposes. Injection modeled plastic models also last a long time, and have the benefit that modeling glue (plastic weld) is a superior way of fixing the inevitable broken parts.

It seems like UV-reactive resin has a potential for becoming brittle and/or friable over time (within a 10-20 year time frame). I don't have any source to back that claim up, that just seems to me as how that type of plastic might behave under moderate sun exposure over time. I probably have some of the oldest 3D resin prints of anyone else on here (with some obvious exceptions), but I never played with any of the models I got from Print-a-Part back in the day - those models were always meant as test runs before making investment casts. All of my old blue resin Print-a-Part models have been stored away in ziplock bags out of sunlight for most of their existence (15-ish years). If I am correct that actively used resin models will become brittle over time, then that is a major downside for items that (traditionally) have been held onto for many years, or resold multiple times as collectables.

Also, resin models have to be connected (if they have connections at all) using superglue, which has several disadvantages over modeling glue. That can be an issue when things like gun barrels snap off. A plastic model with a snapped-off barrel is easily fixed with modeling glue. With a metal model, I general try to replace broken metal parts with closely matching plasticard parts. But metal models aren't as brittle as resin ones, so that doesn't come up as much.

None of those issues would be a concern if I were printing the models for my own personal use, because if I have the capability of printing out models, I could always print out replacements. But if I were buying models from a company (even a garage-based one like some model companies are), I think that would lead to a bad reputation.

So leaves me to wonder:
Are there any resin 'weld' type glues on the market?
Does anyone have any insight on the longterm stability of the resin?


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3D Printing as a Production Alternative
PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 11:26 pm 
Brood Brother
Brood Brother

Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 4:35 am
Posts: 808
Location: New Jersey
I'm not sure about the long-term longevity of the prints. I have seen some people echo your concern about prints weakening or getting brittle over time. I would think the primary issue would be if you left them in sunlight for months on end...but if you have them in a drawer or prime them, I don't see that the stability would be much different than cast resin.

I know some people prefer metal and will be a bit wary of purchasing 3D prints. The crux if it is that I have been at this a long time, and I enjoy running the business. I'm just trying to think about a way to run it that makes a bit more financial sense. Something that would let me commission and release more esoteric stuff, for half the cost that it typically would.

_________________
For all your Dark Realm, 6mm scifi and 6mm fantasy needs: http://www.microworldgames.com/


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3D Printing as a Production Alternative
PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2021 2:44 pm 
Purestrain
Purestrain
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:04 pm
Posts: 5828
Location: UK
I would, in general, be find to buy prints. I own a printer, but i would still buy prints if it saved me the hassle (i can't keep my printout out all the time, so have to clean it down fully to put away etc). I would value prints less than metal, i would see them as the equivalent to cast resin in terms of material desirability.

A point was made about about glueing it – im not aware of a weld-glue as with plastic, but print resin is much easier to glue than metal already, so i don't see that as a loss.

Re the longevity, Elsemore raised this concern when i first got a printer. In response ive kept my first test print next to a window since i got it (18 months ago now?). It is unpainted, untreated, translucent green resin – it does not seem any more or less fragile to me at the moment. Ofcourse the window will have cut a lot of the UV, but then im assuming most people arn't keep their minis outside. This does not mean that there is no risk, but it seems unlikely to me that a painted mini kept in a box or on a shelf inside is at much risk if an unpainted one kept by a window has not shown ill effects by now.

(edit: also im in the UK so there's no sun anyway)

_________________
AFK with real life, still checking PMs


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3D Printing as a Production Alternative
PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2021 3:05 pm 
Brood Brother
Brood Brother
User avatar

Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:24 pm
Posts: 9445
Location: Manalapan, FL
as long as the resin cures fully, you should be a good shape. That's a function of the print design so things like hollowing out the underside of a super tank instead of just being a giant solid lump come into play there. usually it's not difficult to do but something to keep in mind in your designs. I've got prints approaching a decade old and they're still going strong.

The biggest thing for longevity I have found is the techniques used in finishing. I've gotten into using a solid once over layer of polyurethane (sprayed or brushed on depending on what I am doing) over the print once I am at the point of weathering and shading seems to really add some strength. As I largely work with oils and enamels now over acrylic base coats it serves a double bonus of protecting the paints from the turpinoid thinners typically used with them which tend to attack acrylics to begin with. Even if one didn't, sealing up the model with the polyurethane, letting it harden for a few days, and then hitting it with dullcoat gives it some serious protection.

_________________
He's a lawyer and a super-villian. That's like having a shark with a bazooka!

-I HAVE NO POINT
-Penal Legion-Fan list
-Help me make Whitescars not suck!


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 23 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  

cron

Powered by phpBB ® Forum Software © phpBB Group
CoDFaction Style by Daniel St. Jules of Gamexe.net