Thursday, August 20, 2015

Custom 3-D Printed figures - can 28mm be far behind?

So, I read this article on Forbes . . . about this:

Amazon 3D Printing Store

Serious question - how long before we're getting custom 28mm figures, "painted," and shipped to our houses with Prime in time for Sunday's game session? With multiple poses, so you could swap in a custom prone mini, a custom mini when you change from your greatsword to your composite bow, etc. etc.? All at a reasonable cost?

Those World of Tanks figures are only about twice what I pay for 1/72 scale tanks, and they're finished and colored and customized on top of that.


  1. Nice. It wouldn't surprise me if that sort of thing became available within a year, and it's less a matter of technology (which, I think, is pretty much here, or if not will be soon) than of somebody putting the necessary investment into starting up such a service. I can print minis all day long, but the pre-painting/pre-coloring is something approaching a killer app.

  2. Indeed - and the colouring machines, even the papier-maché sort, are still distinctly pricey, so I don't see them going into the typical gamer home any time soon. I wonder what Shapeways is going to do when most potential customers know someone with a monochrome PLA printer, though.

    1. Shapeways is already branching out into exotic materials (porcelain, "3d printed" metal parts which are actually printed in wax and then turned into metal via a lost-wax method) and full-color printing, all of which are likely to remain out of reach for the average hobbyist for quite some time. Often slow (they want a 20-day lead time for porcelain) and hella pricey, but very much on the way.

      But just you wait until I get my Bocusini...

    2. And even if that doesn't pan out, they will have made money in the meantime!

  3. Have you seen ? They've got the custom designed 3D-printed miniatures part. Now they just need to work on the price, and the delivery speed, and offer a painting service.

    1. I have. But I think a storefront on, delivering via Prime, and the issues of price, speed, color, etc. make this potentially a jump ahead.

  4. I take it the figures you made for Cold Fens PCs are an example of your product expectations?

    I would've guessed that the automated print and paint with the tanks wasn't ready for prime time yet. It makes sense that it is; they are doing the same general shape, and the printing is copies of stuff they've already done. This simplifies things, making the work easier. They can debug the printing in advance, and quality control on the painting will be less painful.

    The World of Tanks figures mention that they are for display, not play. They may well be pretty fragile. I also wonder about the paint job.

    Humans can beat machines on thinking, and machines can beat humans on repetition.

    Last I heard, getting a given solid model to print properly often required skilled human intervention. I don't think the automation is entirely worked out yet. The painting also seems likely to require experimentation to get a good run on a new part. If your automation can't produce a good part on the first run, you've got extra costs in time and material. The more labor you need to supplement the automation, the higher the costs and worse you scale.

    Simplifying artistic quality down to something a machine can understand might be doable. I'd guess there will be a bit more refinement before what you describe can be turned out at acceptable quality. Custom poses risk structural quality, and custom poses and paint both have risks for paint quality.

    For a real answer, I'd need to learn about painting robots, and even then I couldn't say anything about the business plan. The business side is the real determining factor.


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