Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It was a 3D Christmas!

  Well, we did it.  The wife and I decided to pool our Christmas presents into one big one.  We have both been looking at 3d printers and we decided to finally pull the trigger.  We ended up going with the UP! Mini from Amazon.  They had a good sale price and it has good reviews on the 3d sites as well as good comments on Amazon as well.  

  I won't go into all the details, but it is a very nice printer, all enclosed in a cabinet.  It seems to be pretty darned sturdy and well made,  So far, it has operated really well out of the box.  I have not even calibrated it yet, since it hasn't shown any sign of not being "in calibration".  It has a platform size of 4.75" inches square, and the same print height.  So, basically it will print anything just under a 5 inch cube.  It uses industry standard .STL files, and prints using either PLA or ABS.  All I have is ABS, so I cannot talk to the PLA printing.  (PLA is a softer plastic than ABS used for rapid prototyping ) 

An Aquila that I printed out.  It's pretty darned cool, I have to say.
  I connected it to the PeeCee rather than the Mac, since the PeeCee here is used only for a few things, like the silhouette and some games.  Now it is also the 3D printing station.  The software that the UP! uses is proprietary, but it seems to be pretty decent.  It will normalize faces and set everything up to print.  It does not create or edit 3d images, but most 3d printer packages are the exact same.  For software to create and edit models, I use Blender and AutoCAD for Mac   There is also a whole raft of great software out there for making 3d objects.  I also need to mention the Thingiverse.  This site is a VAST repository of 3d models, already made and ready to print.  It's huge and it has an amazing amount of stuff.  Here is a quick list of links...

UP! Website - the guys who made my printer
Tinkercad - Online 3d Design software - A great website for all kinds of 3d resources...
Sketchup - A free 3d web based modeling program that has a paid version
OpenSCAD - Software based creation of 3d objects, very cool, but blows my mind...
Blender - Open Source 3d modeling.  Goes toe to toe with all the best tools and is FREE
Thingiverse - Aweseomsauce!  Get your models here...

  So, how is this going to help the 40K and/or wargaming effort?  I'm not sure.  Not because I can't think of applications, the problem is there are too many applications.  As you can see from the pictures, I have done some test prints just to get an idea of how this will go.  I can see fro just these how man things I can do.  My first idea is to design the logo from my Space Marine chapter, and also the insignia for my Eldar craftworld (long lost descendants of Alatitoc from a cold world...)

  I also have ideas for custom bases with rocks, cobblestone and a temple look too.  I can see objective markers, different guns for custom units and the list goes on and on.  I think this thing is going to revolutionize how models are looked at and played in the future.  When 3D printing becomes more mainstream  I can see companies that don't even make models.  They just license the files to a user that have limited print numbers.  For instane, you you might buy a tactical marine that has 10 prints available.  You select the poses you want and voila, instant squad...  who knows?

  So, this thing is very cool, i highly recommend this, or any version of a good 3d printer, the gaming applications are incredible!  After the jump I have some more pictures of things printed and how they look.

 My first ever print.  I didn't know that I should have normalized the model and had it set flat on the platform.  This one printed with a TON of flash to clean off and I managed to break off one of the heads... lol.

 The second attempt.  A regular old 40mm base.  The raft at the bottom (the excess plastic) just snaps right off to leave you with a very clean, ready to use base.
 I have a ton of ideas for bases, adding rocks and all kinds of other textures.  I will probably also make on with a hole in the bottom to put a magnet into for storage purposes.

 The big Aquila.   This one did print out flat and had MUCH less clean up.  The only drawback was that it was in so many pieces.  I had to piece it together like a puzzle.  Of course, the implications here for use in ruins and other things are HUGE!

ok, ok, so I had to print out a die, just for the hell of it.  I did a close up so you could see the resolution and texture of the print.