Wednesday, August 21, 2013

One Step Closer to 3D...(printing, that is)

Okay, so Makerbot has an offer where you can send away for a sample part made with one of their 3D printers.  Mine arrived today in an unmarked mystery package and it's better than I was expecting.  I got a nut and bolt crated by aubenc, who has quite a few items on  The nut and bolt were made with PLA filament, on a Makerbot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer, with a resolution of 250 microns.  Together the parts are about 20mm by 25mm.  The nice little specs card which came with the part says it took 22 minutes to make and cost approximately US $0.19 in materials.  The finish was quite good, not shiny-smooth, but more of a satin finish look.

My sample next to a "Juliette, Female Sorceress" from Reaper Miniatures

My sample next to a "Juliette, Female Sorceress" from Reaper Miniatures (closer)

Now, my buddies and I are looking to chip in on a machine because 3D printing is totally cool and to make gaming minis and stuff (and whatever else we feel like).  My two main concerns are the finish/resolution and the cost per item.  Based on the item I got today I consider the finish to be acceptable for a home-printed gaming miniature.  However, that's the finish from a Replicator 2, which is $2,200 on the Makerbot site; our crew is looking at more of an entry-level hobbyist kit costing around $700.  Cost-wise I estimate a 28mm size "medium humanoid" figure would take roughly the same amount of material or possibly a bit more, so maybe $0.20 to $0.30 each.  That's excellent.

So, excuse me while I dash off an email to my prospective partners...

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