I’ve been here long enough to know there are some who have done some casting themselves but not long enough to know who all, so to you I just wanted to ask what the experience has been like, has it been a significant timesink and whether you would choose to do it again?
Are you wanting to open a web store or just provide casting services for folks running their own shop? @Admiral runs a web store but I believe he gets his stuff cast elsewhere and @Anzu has also done some DIY casting.
The way I envision it I’d commission the sculpts and then cast them (myself or through a service) for sale on the likes of Ebay/Etsy. If somehow it was lucrative enough (which I’m sure it wouldn’t be) I would perhaps make a website.
Interesting idea, especially given you are currently collecting from a guy who has done essentially the same thing, 4A Miniatures! You could also write him and see what his experience has been like.
Wow oh wow, this is an absolutely invaluable resource by @Anzu . I’m halfway through reading it and I’m realising to DIY such an endeavour would be beyond my skillset and resources.
This is fascinating to me, Four A popped up on my radar out of nowhere and I’ve actually emailed and messaged them before asking about a quote on a full set of all their 28mm Dwarf models, they seem quite unresponsive to me but perhaps that’s just based on my line of enquiry. In fairness, like most people, I probably wouldn’t have immediately followed through on such a purchase.
The idea that such a seemingly prominent company would be outsourcing their manufacturing and sculpting is something I had never really even considered, though it does explain their higher prices.
Making your own miniatures is a very rewarding experience (both the sculpting and the casting part) First thing you should realise is that there are multiple ways to approach this. Digital sculpts or hand sculpts? Resin casting, resin printing or metal casting? By far the easiest and cheapest option of those would be to learn 3D sculpting (or commission 3D sculpts) and buy a 3D printer. Nonetheless, many sculptors such as the Perry Brothers, Kev Adams and @Admiral prefer to sculpt by hand to this day. This process is somewhat slower and I would therefore expect the greens to be more expensive than an equivalent 3D sculpt. While you can scan ‘analogue’ sculpts to create 3D models this requires expensive laser scanners for best results (you can get really far with photogrammetry though as @MichaelX and @Reaver have recently demonstrated as part of the Brazen Bastards project).
EDIT: Forgot to add the obvious combo of commissioning 3D sculpts and casting them in metal. This can also be done and I believe this was the approach of GW from 6th edition onwards. Here you would 3D print the models first and then send them off to moulding. Definitely check with your casting partner which resins work with the temperatures during vulcanization (150-180 degrees C) beforehand! Some resins crack & become brittle or may otherwise deform.
I expect 3D printing itself to slowly push small casting companies out of business. It does, however, not scale very well for larger quantities. Casting metal still has the edge here. It’s definitely possible to cast stuff yourself but would that be commercially viable? No. In my limited experience, you have reject rates as high as 90% for more complex sculpts if you don’t feel like investing in a spin-casting machine (which start in the four figure range) – resin casting might be cheaper to get into but no experience on my end. I’m honestly more and more transitioning to the idea of using a casting service myself, simply because they are that cheap and do a much better job than I could ever do with my setup. Still useful to be able to create copies of WIP sculpts on the fly.
In the end, it’s really a question of what you personally like.
@Pyroven if you need 3d scanning help/advise/commissions feel free to pm me.