You can go onto a website like Thingiverse or YouImagine and find a bunch of "things" to print: miniature figures, scenery, dice towers, and a whole lot more (right now I am printing a scale model of Vash the Stampede's pistol from Trigun). DriveThruRPG has a section for .STL (stereolithography) files of professionally produced content (although the amateur stuff can be extremely pro looking as well).
This is the future, and I am going to bring you kicking and screaming into the revolution with me.
WHAT TO BUY
|The DaVinci Jr. Av|
I would recommend these minimums:
- 0.01mm layer height. This is the resolution. A lot of the low end are 0.02 or higher which means less detail. More expensive units can do 0.05mm, twice as good, but this really bumps the price up. Another year and that won't be the case.
- Prints PLA. PLA is a type of plastic. They come in spools of a long thread of it It is melted and formed into the object. This is one of the two major types of plastic, the other is ABS. PLA is biodegradable, so you can throw it out without destroying the planet, and is non-toxic (it smalls a but like sugar when printing). ABS fumes are poisonous so you will have to put it somewhere to print you wont inhale it, which means not in your office. Most printers can do both, but not all (like mine).
- AutoDesk Meshmixer and NetFabb Basic. These free pieces of software let you resize, repair, and optimize your prints and are must haves. As an example with Meshmixer I hollow out models so they use less plastic which can be a great savings. Free is right in anyone's budget. You can also build your own things using Blender3D or Google Sketchup, both free.
Other features you might like to have (which means more money):
- Dual extruder: the extruder is the thing that melts and expels the plastic, like an icing extruder does when decorating a cake. Most machines have one, but some have two which lets you use two different spools of plastic. This means you can use two different colors, or use a regular plastic and PVA, a plastic that dissolves in warm water which lets you melt away supports instead of cutting them off. Supports are needed to hold up some parts of prints so they do not sag as they cool.
- Heated bed: The bed is the shelf the print is built on. Non-heated beds can case some warpage of the flat bottoms of the bases of larger items, but a heated bed keep the plastic warm and stops this. You can get flat prints with a non-heated bed, but it is easier with one. I'll tell you the secret of making them flat in another article as no one seems to tell the secret in other blogs.
|You too can scan gnomes!|
Other things you might want:
- 3D scanner: This is a device to scan objects and make them into print files. You need to go a bit expensive here for quality (maybe around $1000 or more). Then you can copy just about any mini you can think of.
IS IT WORTH IT?/
CAN YOU EXPLAIN MORE?
I love those dungeon tiles. Recently a company came out with a series of printer files for them, called TrueTiles. I have printed a load of them for a total of about $60. A similar product available to buy in sets would be about $600. A 10:1 savings is pretty good.
The freebies make it worth it as well. One fellow made all the monsters from the D&D monster manual at 28mm size (the Flumph is my favorite). There is also some odd things like The Dread Gazebo. A 28mm mini figure costs about $0.25 to $0.50 each to print.
Get one. Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Atheismus is coming up... hint to a loved one.
Coming up I will show you some of the cool things you can make, and give hints on how to do it right!