3D Printing Robots for Wargames

An article by Lazlo Woodbine II – roving journalist and fictitious human.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

The Wargaming industry has been growing at a rapid pace over recent years and it’s only going to continue doing so; The most important reason for this growth is the development of new technology which allows players to create their own armies from scratch without having to buy expensive plastic models or even miniatures in general. This has led to the creation of many games such as Age of Sigmar, Chaos Rising, Dark Heresy and others.

These games are all based around miniature wargaming and allow you to play out battles between various factions using different types of miniatures. Nowadays there are several companies that produce these miniature wargames, some more successful than others. I personally have played a few of them and they all have their pros and cons; For example, Chaos Rising had its good points and its bad points, however, the main thing that makes this game stand out from other games like it is the fact that you can actually play it online with your friends! That alone is enough to make people interested in buying it since playing against someone else while still keeping a close eye on what they’re up to would be very fun.

However, there are also some problems with this particular game. The main one that springs to mind is the fact that its only available for PC which is something that puts off many people. While it’s true that there are more PCs than there are games consoles nowadays, there are still plenty of people who own a games console and wouldn’t dream of buying a PC game as they would rather play them on their TV in front of their big-screen TV.

So, you might be wondering where I am going with this. Well, the title gives it away somewhat. I’m talking about 3D printing and how it can be used to your advantage as a wargamer. For those who don’t know, 3D printing is basically exactly what it sounds like. It’s a process where you can create a three-dimensional object using nothing more than a 3D printer and some type of computer-aided design (CAD) software.

You can create anything from toys to jewelry, to entire gun parts and even to entire cars! And the best thing about it is that it’s not limited to just creating solid objects. 3D printers can also create objects filled with holes or other types of internal designs. This makes the possibilities virtually endless. Do you want a custom chess set? No problem. Do you want a new railing for your stairs? Make it yourself! Do you want to replace a part on your car that was worn out from use? A simple print job.

As you can see, this technology has some pretty amazing possibilities, especially for wargamers. For example, you could print out an entire army for yourself! Not only does this save you money (an important factor for most of us), but it also means you don’t have to spend hours gluing little figures together or filing down and painting each individual piece. Suddenly, wargaming has become completely painless and even more convenient. But what about the quality you might ask? Wouldn’t 3D printers just create rubbish figures that are missing details or have horrible looking paint jobs? Well, while this is certainly true of some printers (and getting worse as the technology develops), there are companies like Figureprints who specialise in producing beautiful miniature figures using the latest and greatest in 3D printing technology.

The quality of these figures is pretty much on par with those which you might find in some boxed games and they certainly look a lot better than the plastic equivalents. So, what does this mean for wargamers like you and I? Well, it means we have a whole new world of opportunity available to us now. No longer are we confined to buying overpriced lunch boxes with a few minis thrown in. We can now create completely custom armies that no two people will have the same.

Want a green and purple army? Done! How about a zombie horde? Sure! A ton of elves? You got it! Whatever your heart (or more appropriately your wallet) desires, you can create it yourself. Now I know what you’re thinking. “That’s all well and good, Nick, but I don’t have a 3D printer and I’m not going to waste my money on something which I don’t see the use of” Fair enough!

Let’s talk about cost. A decent 3D printer will set you back at least a few hundred dollars and that’s not including the cost of the plastic that you will need to print with (which currently costs about $50 per kg). Until recently, this was still a pretty hefty investment to see a return on. However, a company called Micro3D has recently released a portable 3D printer which only costs $350! This brings the price of entry to a level which is extremely affordable for everybody (myself included). So what’s the catch? Well, the Micro from the title is no joke. This thing is small and can’t print models as large as some of your other miniatures. This means anything you print with it will be fairly small, at least by wargaming standards.

This isn’t really a problem for many of the figures in the different ranges that are currently on the market (aside from some of the larger monsters). Most of your normal troops will probably be between the size of a golf ball and a softball (if that helps you visualize better). Don’t expect to print out an entire army in a single sitting, either. The plastic that the Micro 3D printer uses comes in cartridges similar to those used by handheld glue guns. One cartridge only holds a few grams of plastic and they aren’t cheap. At the time of writing, a single cartridge will set you back $15! Ouch!

Printing time is also an issue. The Micro 3D printer is much slower than its larger brethren. It can take several hours to print a single model (once again, golf ball to softball size). So there are some downsides, but for just $350 you can become a true king of wargaming. You’re only limited by your imagination (and the laws of physics, don’t forget physics). Want to print a 28mm scale spaceship? No problem! A 1:1 scale model of the Eiffel Tower? Sure! A life size representation of your most hated rival? Hey, why not?!

Whatever you want to create, you can create. If you’re a particularly cool guy (or girl), you can even share your creations with the rest of the world.

Edited by Cris, 19.35 19.9.2020