[Archive] Digital 'greens' and Rapid Prototyping



Had anyone ever tried to create a 3d ‘green’ and then get it ‘sculpted’ by using 3D printing/rapid prototyping technology?

I was just looking at the website of a company here in Canada that does this, and the cost was surprisingly reasonable.

I also saw a ‘digital’ green on the dwarf tales site: dwarftales.com is for sale | HugeDomains

I’m curious to know if anyone has tried this as a way to create a ‘master’ to create a mold from, for resin casting. I’d be really curious to find out, as it seems a really great way to create highly detailed miniatures - or for parts of variety of things like shields, glyphs, etc…



If you happen to get a 3d printer, why not?


A 3d printer costs lots of ££££$$$!

we common people wont afford it :frowning:


There are companies that will print them out if you provide them with the digital model. Its not that cheap… for 40k I did some autocannon sized weapon that cost $40 and thats not considering the cost of having the prototype put into a more rugged material or the time you spent making the 3D model. For something you plan on molding or producing for sale its great, otherwise its pricey.

I do 3D modeling for Chapterhouse studio and thats how the produced all the bits and pieces that mate up with GW bits. The hard part, and this is something they still haven’t gotten right, is that you have to find 3D print houses that specialize in small parts. The problem is once you do it gets pricey very quickly. The models I’ve produced for myself were printed to an resolution of .003 inches accuracy, the CH pieces are less. But each decimal point of kicks the price up. To truely get something as nice as GW’s you need in the neigborhood of .0005 inches. Going from what I did to what GW does is probably $1000, difference. The sharpness and accuracy is the reason why GW models look crisp while Wargames Factory and little green army men look more bloby.


A 3d printer costs lots of ££££$$$!
we common people wont afford it :(

Printer prices alone are insane, not to mention materials costs. You'll also need some special training. That being said zobo1942 has the right idea, if you can supply a 3D model they can print it (usually after consulting with you about potential problem areas with the design). That being said lots of designs that won't work with conventional molds can work just fine on a 3D printer.

We get stuff printed pretty regularly for work (reciprocal mouse, anyone?!?). The cost is pretty good, so if you can make good 3D designs on a computer then the price of a 3D printed master isn't too bad. Particularly if you consider getting 10+ printed usually isn't too much more expensive than getting one printed (setup and consulting fees etc are a big part of the total) then you can keep one master in storage and start modifying the others with GS or what ever else. Once you have a design you like it's relatively easy to slice parts off for conventional casting.

Consult with the company about plastic choices, particularly if you're planning to use them as-is from the printer as there are a few things to be aware of:
1) unless the company does it for you there will be lots of cleaning up of the printed model, much more than with conventional casting from a 2-part mold.
2) choices of plastic types for these printers vary considerably, which is a good thing, but it may also mean that the plastic will be fairly soft or will be too brittle to stand up to much handling.

These will be a problem if you're going to clean off all the gunk from the surrounding matrix and then prime and paint them. With most materials I've tried the plastic is very soft when it's new (or if you store it uncleaned, i.e. with all the matrix gubbins, in an air-tight container). It's usually soft enough (in my experience) that it will warp if you're not careful, and then it'll set like that and over time will harden and become brittle. In any event, while it's still new wash with water and as a final rinse wash with a little ethanol and then with water again, then pat is down dry as much as possible and leave it to air dry, or better still set it in front of a fan to dry. With most of the plastics I've used the small thin areas and fine detail will warp and distort if left wet.

Best choice would be to 3D print, treat the printed piece as a precious master and use it to make further moulds from.

The big caveat with all of the above is that if you can find a vendor who can assure you that the plastics they are using stand up well to handling with minimal shrinkage/warping/etc and understand what you're making you should be set. I have had some batches of plastics that have held up remarkably well and are rock solid, not brittle and durable as all heck.

Most university engineering depts these days have such printers and most provide fee-for-service so that they can remain financially viable as they are usually producing stuff at cost to their affiliated department(s).



Well, a few years ago I was looking at (as a test) extracting some digital models from a video game and getting a friend of mine who does digital modeling for video games and films to add additional detail (basically, enhance the existing digital model by turning the applied graphic textures into actual model textures (ie. shapes & general ‘sexification’ as the poly count doesn’t matter as much) and then create the stereo-litho file and get it 3d-printed as part of a ‘pitch’ to the marketing arm of the game publisher.

I’m still curious about seeing this in action - it might even be worth dropping some coin to see the results…

Anyway, I thought it might be a very interesting way to create 28mm miniatures with interchangable parts, and a good way for companies to move back and forth (with near-complete accuracy) between digital computer game models and physical tabletop ones.



If you’re serious about it, its not that expensive. Also, there are tons of services to do it for you providing you can provide the requisite model files.  That includes rapid prototyping/3D printing, laser cutting styrene as Brandlin  (http://brandlin.blogspot.com/) does and other services too.

A lot of the smaller mini-manufacturers already rely on services like this, case in point: Khurasan Miniatures, who contract John Bear Ross to digitally sculpt vehicles - they pass on his 3d models to get prototyped and Khurasan take care of the mould making, casting and marketing.


WOW. Thank for that link, GRNDL. Fifteen hundred bucks?! That’s pretty amazing… and waaaaay cheaper than I’d ever thought it could be! I was pricing up one-offs based on approximate volumes, and they worked out to about $180 per piece. So, if this is something where I was going to create more than nine miniatures, it would work out to be cheaper.

Jeez. Might have to tap the credit line…


Just for the odd piece, I guess it still is rather expensive, but the technology is at its tipping point. It will become more and more ubiquitous in the near future and much cheaper as well. Whether you become an early adopter or not, well, that’s up to you Zobo, my friend, but I’m sure you’ll find several people around here who might want stuff prototyped. :slight_smile:


From one of the other forums I frequent… great contribution from lordnipple…


This warrants some serious thought. I wonder if I could create a model and send it to the company, and pay them to produce a sample for me on that machine, just to get a true quality measure?

If I hadn’t just spent some large cash on a new laptop, I’d be sending an email right now. Hmmmm. $5 a day for a year. Plus materials. That’s cheaper than parking the car…


Its the future :slight_smile: GS will have to do for now though.


on a kind of related note, i’ve used a product called polymorph.

Its a termoflexi plastic that is pliable at 50oC and can be sculpted quite easily. The trick is to keep it at 50oC, dipping it in a pot of hot water.

I’ve used it to make a few moulds, but USE A RELEASE AGENT, if you don’t it WILL stick to it like super glue.

I lost a good CD head that way.



Is Polymorph that rubbery mould making material they sell in hobby stores? You boil it up and pour it over your master? Comes in red, black, etc, with each colour representing a different end hardness/temperature rating.



Is Polymorph that rubbery mould making material they sell in hobby stores? You boil it up and pour it over your master? Comes in red, black, etc, with each colour representing a different end hardness/temperature rating.

You know i'm not sure, i got it from a Academic Suppiers from the university i work in. It may now be availible more commonly as i got it 2 years ago.

The stuff i have comes in pellets, you put it in boiling water and it melts and sticks together and goes transparrent, you pull it out and its like silly putty, you get it to shape, and let it cool. IF its wrong then heat it up again and try again.

this stuff:-

Think thats the ones you can buy in a shop. that the one you are thinging of?


Here’s a service that seems to offer custom 3D printing in a variety of materials… Maybe I’ll give them ago when I have a model prepared.


There was a review I read of the ‘Personal, Protable 3d printer’, and it specifically said that it probably wouldn’t have the detail required to print ‘D&D’ figures… So, it seems that creating a 3d model, sending it out to a professional-level shop and dropping the cash, making a mold from the printed model and casting from there may be the way to go.

Also, exporting 3ds models to .stl files seems to be a pretty easy process…