Home Forums Sci Fi 6mm Sci-Fi 3D Printing Experiments

Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)
  • Author
  • #153539
    Avatar photoMicroworld Steve

    I bought a relatively high-res 3D printer at the end of last year to help in working with sculptors and testing things out before I shell out cash for professional prints.  Given the rise in 3D printing on demand companies, and the fact that the printer I am currently using isn’t all that much worse in terms of resolution than some of the professional machines, I have been kicking around the idea of just selling prints directly.

    I have never really done a high volume of sales anyway for small scale scifi, other than a handful of vehicle codes and the infantry.

    I thought I would chronicle some of my experimentation here.  Below are some snaps of some unreleased 3mm minis I had the sculptor resize for 6mm a year ago, but have not had a chance to get molded


    I don’t know, I think the detail is sufficient.  Not quite as sharp as the professional rigs, but probably good enough for most customers.

    Here is a tank meant for my Dieselpunk line…again, not too shabby in terms of quality

    So what do people think?  Would you buy 3d prints rather than traditional resin casts or metal casts?

    Avatar photoMike

    I would if cheaper than equivalent metal/resin models and on a par with quality.
    I would if it was the only source of the model.

    Avatar photoian pillay

    I agree with Mike’s comments. On par in quality and cheaper to purchase.

    Tally-Ho! Check out my blog at…..

    Avatar photoMr. Average

    Breakage is always the problem with prints.  They so rarely make it without losses due to rough handling.  They also have required more special handling and cleaning and so forth to make them paintable.  I know people who swear by it but metal always appeals to me way more.

    Avatar photomadman

    Frankly what Mr Average said. I like the “heft” of metal. No real benefit (for me) over plastic except my 47+ years old collection started with metal and is still 99% such. Very much like my Lionel trains, the ones cast from metal (steam engines) from the ’40s to early ’60s “feel” higher quality than the plastic bodied ones from more recent. Even though the ones from the ’70s and ’80s were more detailed or accurate.

    Avatar photoLogain

    I’d buy resin prints of that quality, especially if it allowed you to produce more of your ideas that are not mainstream.

    I prefer metal miniatures, but I have always been a fan of Microworld’s unique ideas.  Your 6mm proxy armies for Epic and Warmaster are pretty cool, but the micro wasteland, dieselpunk, weird fantasy armies, Kreen etc are the reason I keep tabs on what you are doing … even though they probably aren’t what you are making the most money on.

    I’m not sure how common it is with others, but I’ve reached the point where I usually buy two complete, small forces at a time. I find it’s more fun to paint diverse forces, and easier to find opponents if you have both sides. I’ve given up on building huge forces, and I don’t have time to play massive battles or paint large armies. Instead I have a growing number of small, matched sets for specific games/projects/themes.

    If buying resin instead of metal meant getting the Insect Nomads, Elves and Orcs from your diesel punk concepts onto the table I’d totally do it.  Same with Seas of Fate, I’d be a lot more tempted if there were other fleets available.

    Avatar photoMike

    I am in the market for pre-supported STLs too.

    Avatar photoSane Max

    I agree the frailty issue is the sticking point for me. Obviously, from the Gekko I am not willing to pay less for worse quality, that’s a Gibbon….  so I want something as good as the metal equivalent, and not prone to breakage…. Metal, for instance 🙂


    (i managed to use both of these in a TEAMS meeting this morning, so felt like celebrating)



    Avatar photodeephorse

    I buy 20mm WWII models that are injection moulded, cast resin, spun metal and 3D printed.  I enjoy building injection moulded kits.  I don’t really enjoy the construction of resin and metal kits because the precision in the parts is generally just not there.  The 3D printed models I have bought have varied from just a little clean up required, all the way to about an hour per track assembly because of all the fine filaments that need to be removed.  The banding can also be an issue.

    An on-line friend recently showed me some 3D resin prints of vehicles that he had bought.  They were superb.  There was no banding at all.  Any curves involved were absolutely smooth.  I would buy models like that in a flash, plus they were of obscure vehicle types that would probably not be economic (in terms of sales) for a commercial enterprise to make in traditional materials.  So I would buy 3D prints of the right quality, without a doubt.


    Play is what makes life bearable - Michael Rosen

    Avatar photoDarkest Star Games

    As a fellow retailer who makes models both by hand and in 3d I can tell you that you will be able to create finer detail by hand and casting in metal than you can in 3d and printed.  There are just limitations in resolution.  I have an Epax 1x at home that I use to test masters, I then have then “pro-printed” on a very high end machine as I like my corners and edges to be as sharp as possible.  My E 1x makes great prints, but not perfect.

    As said above, prints are fragile.  I have made many 6mm figures and vehicles and while I am capable of playing with them without breaking a piece, that has not been the case of my compadres.  Also as said above, shipping can be dicey.  There is also print time to consider (which is where the real cost comes from, not material).  With metal if you mess up a pour you can just melt the flaws, with resin you can shred the flaws and use the stuff as filler for larger castings, but with printer resin… you’re out both time and material if any sort of blip occurs.

    All of that said: I fully believe the way of the future will be 3d printing from both home and retailer, though I will myself retain metal and resin as well (75% of my stuff is hand made and translating to 3d isn’t an option there).  If you have STLs and you are ok with people printing from home, have at it!  I think it’ be great!

    As for detail: whenever sizing up in scale, be sure to add more detail, and if you can narrow up panel lines if you can.  Scaling down… that gets a lot more difficult…

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."


    First off, small scale detail is always exaggerated so these are in line with other small scale models.  The detail looks quite good on these.  The proof will be when you paint them up.  I suspect they wil look better than “just OK” but probably great!


    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

    --Abraham Lincoln

    Avatar photoMr. Average

    Well also I hasten to add that I have frequently used 3D printed forces – I was a patron of National Cheese Emporium before they went (briefly it seems if this thread is to be believed) to metal. If it’s what’s available I would take the resin. I wouldn’t reject it just because. But given the choice I would always prefer the metals, mainly because of breakage, heat susceptibility, durability, ease of handling.

    Avatar photoMicroworld Steve

    @Mr. Average

    The 3mm NCE stuff will still be made in metal, I wouldn’t want to be cleaning supports off of a million little tanks and turrets 🙂

    My impetus for switching to 3D printing for certain things is multifaceted.  Its apparent to me I just support way too many lines at the moment, and I often have .stls or models that sit around for long spans of time that I simply don’t have the time or resources to have molded.  This is sort of exacerbated by the fact that some of these lines will barely ever pay for their moldmaking anyway, and even if they do, it will take years for them to do so.  The printer I used for these has an xy resolution of 35 µm, whereas most of the home printers these days have 49 µm or some such.  Most of my masters are printed on a Form 3 which has 25 µm xy resolution, so not far off from what I am printing at home.  I’m kind of just looking ahead.  Cleaning the first prints I thought to myself, if the tech is only going to get better with time, I might as well start adjusting my workflow now.

    I haven’t found the resin to be all that brittle, at least if the designs are chunky enough.  6mm infantry…I wouldn’t want resin prints for those really.  Vehicles and things though, that is a different story.


Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.