3D Printed 15mm Sci Fi miniatures

First Impressions: 15mm 3D Printed Miniatures

The Lazy One’s 3D Printed 15mm Scif Fi Robots via Shapeways

Okay. I have my reservations on this one.

I’m always interested in new ways to do old things. 3d printing is one of those things that is becoming increasing accessible and affordable. Clearly to miniature collectors and gamers it’s a no-brainer that it could open up a world of possibilities.

I’ve occasionally perused the vaults of Shapeways and have been intrigued by the innovation of some folk. I had never really seen anything however that I was prepared to take a punt on until I came across these fellas. (This is the set I bought.)

3D Printed 15mm Sci Fi miniaturesMore of their history can be found here on Lead Adventures forums so I won’t go into that here.

My opinion after physically receiving a set of these guys?

The Good: Design-wise they are really nice for miniatures regardless of scale or material. And the Lazyforger has gone for a slighter, pointy design which tests 3d printing over traditional casting. Also good pose animation and pose variation. In these respects “job done” and proven.

The Bad: Despite this however, because of the material these guys are both FRAGILE, LIGHT and GRAINY. A combination of the light material and the slender design makes these guys feather light. Handling is with care. (During painting I managed to break one in half while gently dry-brushing).

However, the bigger, more practical drawback is if you actually intend to use them in a tabletop game. Miniatures that are too light get knocked and nudged (in this case possibly resulting in breakage). And obviously one needs to ‘manoeuvre’ the miniature. So, adding a weighty base solves issue one (nudge-factor) but because of the fragility makes the second issue (picking-up the miniature) a bit of a gamble.

In a bid to circumvent this I placed a second, smaller, washer underneath the main washer base. The idea is to lift the miniature off the table a bit so that the miniature can be picked up from the base. This works – so long as you remember to only pick it up by the base!

I’ll try MDF bases for the next batch and see how they behave on the table.

The graininess is a bit of an issue too. Unfortunately probably more noticeable on these ‘smooth and sleek’ robots than might be the case with another subject matter.

The LazyOne behind these clearly offers these as “BETA” products probably for these reasons above. And my comments totally acknowledge this and are by no means a criticism. I think the project is both admirable and needed. More importantly it appears to have been PARTIALLY successful.

Metal casters of the world need not panic quite yet, but 3d printing is certainly here. To stay? Probably. This technology just keeps getting better and better.

These were difficult to paint and the Lazy One/Lazy Forger‘s are much better. I’ll try a different style on the next squad…

3D Printed 15mm Sci Fi miniatures 3D Printed 15mm Sci Fi miniatures 3D Printed 15mm Sci Fi miniatures

12 thoughts on “First Impressions: 15mm 3D Printed Miniatures”

  1. The other consideration with 3D printing is that when I looked on shapeways it did seem rather expensive (I haven’t been there recently so this may have changed).

    I am surprised that they were so frail; do you think this was due to the material or the thin design? Would this also apply to resin figures in 15mm (beads of sweat appear on forehead over those resin troops bought at Salute).

    Is the broken one in the picture or was it un-fixable?

    1. Hi John – yes, like-for-like they are more expensive than traditional minis. That’s why I took awhile to take a punt on something like these.

      A combination of the design and material = frail. I bought a ‘police box’ at the same time. A solid block which isn’t fragile. But the scale was wrong and the GRAINY effect the more apparent = bits box.

      Resin is different and a lot stronger. I don’t own many resin minis but I’m sure they are more robust.

      The broken one was easily repaired with superglue (twice). But once broken, rarely as strong as the original.And so fine that the ‘join’ points were ‘testing’ to tease together. And too fine to pin.

      Hope that helps.

  2. In what material did you order your prints? I’ve ordered things in “frosted detail” and “frosted ultra detail.” Someone advised me once that the two were near identical. I have found that they are not. The FUD is the much smoother and crisper option and I think well worth the slight price premium. I don’t plan on using the FD again. The white strong flexible is probably more durable, but I don’t think it would look good at gaming scales. Some people in the A&A community really like it, but I don’t figure I’ll try it after my negative experience with the FD.

    1. “Frosted Ultra Detail” was the only option for these. I imagine FD was deemed too ‘crusty’ by LazyForger to even consider punting.

  3. I’ve just started painting my platoon of these.
    I think the miniatures themselves are stunning, but I agree that they can be fragile.
    Fortunately, they are easily fixed with superglue, which repairs breaks quickly and effectively.
    Where I had more trouble was with basing.
    I used mdf bases, anticipating the problem with the weight of a penny, my usual base material. Because the miniatures end in feet without an integral base, I applied the sand across the base first. When it came to gluing the miniature to the base, superglue couldn’t bond to the sand and white glue didn’t hold the miniature.
    Thankfully the white glue captured an impression of the feet which the superglue could then bond with, but it was a bit of a hassle really.
    How did you manage to glue them? Was I just unlucky?

    1. Agree with all you say.

      I too had issues with basing (some covered above). As to gluing, yes, direct to sand was a no-no. Pinning not an option either. I glued directly to the penny and carefully applied the sand texture afterwards. All in all a pretty fragile combination of base and miniature.

      On a similar note – under coating. I resisted usual spray coating as I feared the detail would be lost or GRAININESS made more of an issue. So brushed a primer on instead.

      Let me know how you get on with yours – I still have a dozen or so to paint so any tips would be appreciated.

      1. I heard that the propellant could harm the material, so I undercoated with a brush too.
        The undercoat didn’t go on smoothly and I thought I’d need 2 coats, but the paint actually covered the blotchy undercoat well.
        I’ve only painted the command floater so far and undercoated the grav bikes.
        The graininess isn’t apparent at arms length, and overall I’m very happy with them.
        It remains to be seen how robust they are when used…

          1. Amazing job. Inspired.

            The command ‘platform’ may well be where this method on manufacture does work. More volume and rigidity in the body yet enough of the finer elements (tendrils for example) so show off the technologies benefits. And this is a one piece model! Impressive.

  4. The design of these is oh so cool… But I bet in even just a few years there’ll be better options than pricey, grainy prints from Shapeways. For figures this tiny the drawbacks are still considerable, IMO.

    At least your paint jobs look sharp 🙂

    1. Hi NSA
      Thanks. And Yes, I think I agree. Like I said, I have ‘reservations’ about these. I totally applaud the ‘experiment’, see the logic, really like the design but WISH the draw backs outlined didn’t imped the practicality.

      Yes they are pricey compared to their lead brethren, but like many 15mm fans I don’t pursue the scale because of cost savings or even space-savings (though both are welcome). It’s because it’s a scale that looks ‘right’ to my eye. A point of view (pardon the pun) that will always be subjective.

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