3D Printing For Wargaming Part Three: Making & Printing Step By Step

April 6, 2015 by crew

I thought it would be good to show you just how much effort goes into actually making and printing something. I don’t want you to think it’s daunting, in fact it’s pretty easy. Start small though!

Post Boxes & Wooden Cart

Jimmy’s First 3D Print…

Let’s build a model and print it. You can actually follow along with just the software (including the slicer) without having a printer to print with. It’s nice to see how the slicer makes the tool paths.

1) Go to http://www.sketchup.com and download their free software (SketchUp Make).

2) I have made a simple cylinder, 20mm outside diameter, 18mm inside diameter.

Printing #1

3) Export this object to an .obj file.

4) Load up the software you use for slicing, in my case Cura (http://software.ultimaker.com).

5) When you load your model file, it can sometimes be rotated in strange directions. Simply rotate it back.

Printing #2

6) You are able to change the scale of your models here as well. I suggest working at the scale you want to print at in your modelling software as trying to remember what scale you printed something at is not always going to work for you.

Printing #3

7) Hit print!

Here is the result of five minutes worth of work and ten minutes of printing…

Printing Results

Building Up Walls

Let’s take this a little bit further. How about we make a section of wall? First, let’s figure out our dimensions by blocking it out. I think we need to have a pillar that is about 1.5cm square at its base, about four centimeters tall. Then we’ll build a 6 cm wall leading from it.

Walls #1

My initial plan is above, with some connector pieces.

Building the shapes up…

Walls #2

Objects can sit inside of other ones. You’ll notice that that the dovetail parts overlap into the main wall section. This is fine; the slicer will count them as one solid object.

Walls #3

It can be hard to get the right tolerance for connector pieces. They won’t slide nicely together if you don’t build some space between them. I’ve been working with a 0.3mm gap between surfaces and it has been working satisfactorily. Other printers may react differently. Experimentation is important.

I think we’re now ready to print…

Ready to Print?

Inside the slicer software you are able to change the view so that it shows the actual paths that will be sent to the printer. The red is outside surface, the green is the inside surface, the yellow is automatically generated inside structures and the blue shows paths where the tool moves but no filament is extruded.

Wall Printing

Printing

The print for the wall above took 1.5 hours. If you want to make more, then it’s going to take quite a while to get them done! I’ve added some primer to show the details a bit better (as the plastic I use is slightly translucent).

Printed Wall

The vertical lines are obvious, but can be forgiven. There is some warping around the edges of the top stone of the pillar because of the overhang. The tip of the pillar isn’t crisp because the plastic doesn’t have a chance to cool properly before the next slice is drawn on top. However, the connectors are solid; you can pick both pieces up together without it falling apart.

I hope this shows you just how simple a print can be. It all depends on how much effort you want to put into it. This wall section is simple and lacks any kind of relief for brick patterns or stone but it is functional and ready to put on your table right away.

Shop Front

Don’t be frightened of the technical know-how. It’s just experimentation and iteration. Try different pieces of software (most export to an .obj or a .dae format) as they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

If the whole thing feels imposing to you then just find a small part and focus on that. You’ll eventually get used to it and it will feel great when you end up with an object in your hand that you thought of in your head.

Town House

Above are some of my other prints as well for you to take a look at. What would you make?

Next Time – If you want to build your own models, you’ve got to be smart about it. Stay tuned for my advice to you!

3D For Wargaming Series

Part One: Where to Begin?

Part Two: Pitfalls of 3D Printing

Tobyn Manthorpe

If you would like to write articles for Beasts of War then please contact us at ben@beastsofwar.com for more information!

"You can actually follow along with just the software (including the slicer) without having a printer to print with..."

"It can be hard to get the right tolerance for connector pieces. They won’t slide nicely together if you don’t build some space between them..."