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Friday, November 6, 2015

Shapeways - Have you thought about buying from them?

Hi All,

At the end of September I was contacted by Pat Peverell from Shapeways about whether or not I'd be interested in blogging about the use of 3D printed models for the hobby and sent me links to their Miniatures and Model Train sections.

At the time I was rather busy and couldn't get to it. There was some mention in the initial email about sending me designs, along with more info, in the end I was only sent this info graphic of the process.


I was also given a link to their Tools page, for assisting in design of models if you are not versed in digital sculpting/ modelling. I only took a cursory look at that and played around with the Hero Forge for a couple of minutes before I got bored. I'm not really interested in making a custom miniature for my D&D Next character. It's a game I don't play.

Although most things I looked at in the above links were not my cup of tea, I did think there were some interesting options for those who game Naval or Air or Micro Armor. There were also a lot of things for people who use Model Railroad items for scenery and terrain. What caught my eye, however, was one shop in particular. Grim Dark Bits.

Why I liked this shop is it was making ships for Battle Fleet Gothic and some items for Epic 40K (Space Marine), both of which are no longer supported by Games Workshop. For some one, like me, who didn't pay attention to either of these games when they were initially released this might be an option for building up forces for these games. I haven't looked very hard, but ships and 6mm figures for these seem to be suffering from the same rise in prices on the internet that "Oldhammer" figures are experiencing.

The designer/ owner of the site himself says that he doesn't use the highest quality/detail prints for his fleets, as that seems to be pretty pricey. The reviews seem to suggest that the lower grades are good enough.

So my thoughts are, Shapeways looks like an interesting way to fill out pieces for smaller scale projects and gribblies for terrain.

I have yet to try it out though I suspect one or two resin bits I've purchased over the years have been casts of 3D printed models.

Do you have any experience with printed models in general or a Shapeways store in particular? What are your thoughts?

14 comments:

  1. I've got to say I was sceptical about this. Then I had a play around with that design a figure thing, got really into it and saw that it would only cost me $15 to make a figure suited to my needs. Ideal for Frostgrave or the like. I never completed the sale, as I've no need for the figure, nor do I know enough about the company to see me make a purchase. But I have got to say that I was actually impressed with what I saw.

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    1. Hi Roy, I too was drawn to the figure creator. I seem to remember Hero Forge running a Kickstarter at one point. I think it could be useful for one off figures for roleplaying or skirmish. The prices seem a little high for building armies of 28mm figures.

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  2. Got a few pieces like 15mm chairs and medical equipment, the more you spend the better the quality in my experience but what I got was okay.

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    1. Sounds good Fran. I think I had also come across some 3D printed terrain in 28mm scale on ebay. I don't know how they made it, but it was certainly inexpensive. I may investigate more terrain items at a later date.

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  3. She approached me too, same promise of 'designs', I said yeah, sure, send me the samples and I'll do a piece...no samples...no piece! As a CAD monkey I've been following this for years, one of the earliest discussions was on HaT's forum back in 2006/7, but their robot has done for it!

    Shapeways are obviously pushing with a major marketing drive (I keep getting them pop-up in the right margin of my Facebook page) but there are other 'self-publishers' in the trade, and they are all building interesting banks of 3D files. Francis is on the ball though, the more you pay the better the quality, as the finer the nozzle/laser beam...cheap ones are really rough.

    As an aside - one of my mates is working on a 3D mould maker, which will almost do away with that roughness or layering, by building the mould which can then be cast in soft silicon, but I can't say more as he's a one-man band and the big boys would jump on it...it's clever though, but may never see the light of day!

    H

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    1. Hi Hugh, very interesting. I am terrible with CAD so I have very limited digital modelling experience. From what I've read the high quality stuff is extremely detailed but the price. to me, gets out of hand quick. I'll keep my eye out for this mould making process. That sounds quite clever.

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  4. Sean,
    I bought some really neat automated weapons turrets from shapeways in the past and some Epic 40k terrain. Not bad but very, very brittle.

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    1. Good to know Steven. Every now and then I threaten to delve into Epic. I'll keep what you say in mind.

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  5. I keep looking at obscure/custom/better scaled X-wing fighters, but have not pulled out the credit card as of yet. Someday.

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    1. Hi Lasgunpacker, I forgot to mention the X-Wing models I saw. I think they are where printed models might really come into their own. If you do get some I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'll be sure to let you know if I buy some.

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  6. There are a lot of different spacecraft designs on the Shapeways site. I have a few and they're decent models, though a bit rough (from the cheap material) and really quite expensive.

    Some things just can't be modelled in any other practical way, especially box-girder bridges, lattice TV masts and the like. Still, I'm not buying much of this stuff until the price comes down a lot and the quality of the finish improves.

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    1. Hi Hugh, that's kind of where I'm at with shapeways. I think there are only a few items that are really worth it. The materials used to make it affordable are not quite up to snuff at the moment. But like most things, the price will come down eventually.

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  7. I bought star wars armada ships that are nit available in retail. The quality is "ok" for the cheap materials and perfect for the expensive one. Though expensive is REALLY expensive and forbidding me to buy more of them. I will review maybe this month after painting them.

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    1. Hi Cedric, I'd love to hear your thoughts and see how the ships paint up. I think that the miniatures printed for space/ air combat are a little closer to what you would pay for the models from the game manufacturer. Of course you still have to paint these. Your comment reminds me that i need to check in with your blog.

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