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Old August 9th, 2022, 05:05 PM
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Getting Started with 3D Printing

With the return of Heroscape and the availability of 3D printers I figured I would take a moment to write up a simple intro to 3D printing post. I'll try to cover the basics for both resin and FDM printing while trying not to get too deep into the techno mumbo jumbo. Over time hopefully this will become a very though starting point with useful tips, tricks and recommendations.

Over the years I've had a few FDM printers and DLP printers. My $0.02 is that FDM is better for larger less detailed items like terrain, DLP is better for things with higher detail like miniatures.
My printers
FDM
Solidoodle Press
Wanhao i3
Custom built i3 clone

Resin
Anycubic Photon S
Anycubic Mono X (4k)
Other printers Ive used/worked with
Creality 5 corexy
Anycubic Mega
Anycubic Photon
Ultimaker S3
Resin

DLP vs SLA
Resin printing has two major forms in the market right now which are Stereolithography (SLA) and Digital Light Processing (DLP). Both process work by curing light sensitive resin with a specific light wavelength. This is usually UV light around the 405nm wavelength. They differ due to their approach in how one controls the light source to cure the resin. SLA uses lasers to cure the resin one sweep at a time. Its resolution is defined by the focal point of the laser. This means you will have a higher print quality/resolution at the center of the build plate and decrease in resolution as it moves further away from its focal point. (You're splitting hairs over a few nanometers in difference between the focal point at the center of the build plate compared to the edges. Most people will never know/notice this) DLP on the other hand uses a projector to cure an entire layer and the resolution is defined based on its pixel/voxel resolution. Due to the pixels/voxel this is where SLA pulls ahead of some DLP printers. Since SLA does sweeping passes a round edge will always be round where with DLP you're drawing a circle with square boxes. On DLP machines with higher resolutions this isnt really noticeable but it may be something that could make or break something with tight tolerances.
SLA - Example Printers: Formlabs
I am sad to say I have no direct experience working with SLA machines. (they're somewhat cost prohibitive and usually geared towards businesses/prosumer) If anyone from the community has experience working with SLA machines please let me know and I can add your information to this section.


DLP - Example Printers: Anycubic, Elegoo, Phrozen
In the recent years resin 3D printing has become significantly more affordable to the average person. You can now get quality resin printers that are great for minis for sub $500, dare I say sub $200. I have personally owned the anycubic photon s and the mono x from them. I would highly recommend also getting a wash/cure station if you wish to venture into resin printing but it is not a requirement.

So you bought your first DLP printer. What's next?
∑ Download a slicer of choice (I use chitubox's free version)
∑ Unpack your printer and set it up!!!
∑ Donít forget to level the bed, tighten down the screws and add resin to your vat
∑ Find a RERF file. Your printer should come with one but if it doesnít there are a lot of good ones out there
∑ You want to print this first as you will need it to dial in your machines settings
∑ Most RERF files will print 8 different items with different setting
∑ Usually they start around a .8 second layer cure time and increase by about .4 seconds each
∑ Decide which RERF turned out best and adjust your settings accordingly
∑ Don't forget this can vary between resin and manufacturer. Make sure to keep a log for future reference
∑ Decide what you want to print first and pull it in to your slicer of choice
∑ Donít forget about model overhangs. Add supports where needed
∑ Most software has an auto support feature but theyre not perfect so just double check your overhangs
∑ Slice the file and save it to your USB / send it over wifi to your printer if it supports it
∑ Wait patiently. 28mm height takes about 2-3hours to complete
∑ Remove the print from the bed, clean it, cure it and admire your printers hard work

Tips, Tricks, Recommendations & Things to Remember
∑ Recommend a well ventilated area. Resin can smell
∑ Recommend a wash/cure station
∑ If having issues with prints sticking to build plate re-level
∑ FEP is consumable and will need replacing

FDM - Example Printers: Creality, Ultimaker, Makerbot, Anycubic
Fused deposition modeling (FDM) was first brought into the spotlight by Makerbot and boy have FDM printers come a long way since then. These printers work by heating up polymer-based materials and extruding them onto a plate one layer at a time. Most common materials that people print with are ABS, PLA, and PETG (in my opinion). Every polymer has its own strengths/weaknesses and why you may or may not want to use them. I will not be getting into that as there is a lot of documentation on the internet that goes into great detail the pros/cons of them all. For the sake of 3D printing in the miniature realm Id suggest starting with PLA as it is the most user friendly from my experience.

So you bought an FDM printer. What's next?
∑ Download the slicer of your choice.
∑ I use simplify3D but they havent released an update in awhile so I am afraid they might be going out of business/not supporting newer machines. They do have some amazingly helpful documentation though for issues that you may encounter
∑ Unpack that printer!!!
∑ Build, level your bed and load up your filament
∑ Find a temperature calibration model to determine the best printing temperature for your filament
∑ Load the calibration model into your slicer, following the direction and print
∑ Donít forget these setting can vary between color and manufacturer so it's a good idea to keep a log of this information.
∑ Now that you have an ideal printing temp for your filament go ahead and input that information into your slicer
∑ Now the fun begins! Go and grab the model you've been wanting to print, import it into your slicer, slice it and save the file to a usb/send it to your device over wifi
∑ Be patient. FDM printing is a slow process but super fun to watch
∑ Enjoy your model!!
Tips, Tricks, Recommendations & Things to Remember
∑ Look for a printer that has a flexible magnetic build plate
∑ Removing models from a flex plate is 10x easier
∑ Look for a printer that has a heated bed
∑ Helps prevent warping, especially on initial layers
∑ Look for a printer that has auto leveling
∑ Will make your printing experience better
∑ If you have issues with your initial layer sticking to the bed try adjusting your Z offset SLOWLY
∑ Too much offset and you'll drive your nozzle into your print bed and it's just not a good time



tldr:

If you want to make miniatures lean towards DLP printing.
If you want to make terrain lean towards FDM.
If you want to do both well lean towards a resin printer with a large build plate.

If using DLP your first print should be a RERF calibration and adjust your slicer settings
If using FDM your first print should be a temperature/bridge calibration model and adjust your slicer settings

Keep a log of your resin/filament and all associated slicer settings for future reference

I am sure there is a lot Ive missed/glossed over but hopefully this is a good starting point to build from

~DragonSlayer2

In war, indeed, there is no substitute for victory. ~General MacArthur

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Old August 10th, 2022, 05:56 PM
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Re: Getting Started with 3D Printing

Thank you for posting this. I've been interested in getting my first 3D printer for the past couple of years, but either haven't known enough about it, haven't been able to afford it, or haven't had the proper space to safely set one up. I'm looking at either an Elegoo Mars 2 Pro or an Anycubic Photon Mono 4K.

Right now I'm living in a two-bedroom apartment, and there isn't a great way to properly ventilate.

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Old August 10th, 2022, 07:23 PM
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Re: Getting Started with 3D Printing

I have been eyeing a resin printer for a while for figures. Dragonslayer2, the only thing missing is can you give a reference point on of how much can be printed at once and time to do it? On the assets you have obviously, rough estimates.

On SLA how long does it take to do a single hex piece and a say a tree?
On Resin how long does it take to print a single figure, and how many standard figures can fit on your Anycubic Mono X - like a Marrow Warrior?
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Old August 11th, 2022, 10:04 AM
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Re: Getting Started with 3D Printing

Quote:
Originally Posted by 'Scaper94 View Post
Thank you for posting this. I've been interested in getting my first 3D printer for the past couple of years, but either haven't known enough about it, haven't been able to afford it, or haven't had the proper space to safely set one up. I'm looking at either an Elegoo Mars 2 Pro or an Anycubic Photon Mono 4K.

Right now I'm living in a two-bedroom apartment, and there isn't a great way to properly ventilate.
Honestly, 3D printing is like it's own addiction. . . I mean hobby. I got into 3D printing when I was still in highscool and it has done nothing except taken my time and money lol

I am in a 3 bedroom apartment and just have my printers set up in the dinning/living room. Thankfully my roommates are pretty chill about it but I know Ive seen people put them inside pop-up "fume tents" that seem to work well. Some people even drop a mini air filter unit into the fume tents and say they cant detect any smells. Additionally Ive seen an increase in "ECO" resins that are supposed to be "Smell Free". I just use basic resin.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fastbilly1 View Post
I have been eyeing a resin printer for a while for figures. Dragonslayer2, the only thing missing is can you give a reference point on of how much can be printed at once and time to do it? On the assets you have obviously, rough estimates.

On SLA how long does it take to do a single hex piece and a say a tree?
On Resin how long does it take to print a single figure, and how many standard figures can fit on your Anycubic Mono X - like a Marrow Warrior?
Cant really speak to SLA but the time for resin DLP printers is purely based on the height of the model. The mono X can print about 12 marro drones in under 3 hours. The photon s can print 6 in about 4 hours. One of the smaller trees would take around 6 hours but you could prolly fit about 8 of them on a single mono X build plate. Water tiles/standard hexes would take even less time. I suspect water tiles would be under, hour, standard hexes around 1-1.5hrs, and you could prolly get about 8 tiles per mono X build plate if I were to guess. (assuming you print the tiles flat. You could get a lot more by lining them up vertically but you would increase your print time to about 3ish hours on the mono x) Plus cleaning and curing times.


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Old August 12th, 2022, 12:59 AM
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Re: Getting Started with 3D Printing

Quote:
Originally Posted by DragonSlayer2 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by 'Scaper94 View Post
Thank you for posting this. I've been interested in getting my first 3D printer for the past couple of years, but either haven't known enough about it, haven't been able to afford it, or haven't had the proper space to safely set one up. I'm looking at either an Elegoo Mars 2 Pro or an Anycubic Photon Mono 4K.

Right now I'm living in a two-bedroom apartment, and there isn't a great way to properly ventilate.
Honestly, 3D printing is like it's own addiction. . . I mean hobby. I got into 3D printing when I was still in highscool and it has done nothing except taken my time and money lol

I am in a 3 bedroom apartment and just have my printers set up in the dinning/living room. Thankfully my roommates are pretty chill about it but I know Ive seen people put them inside pop-up "fume tents" that seem to work well. Some people even drop a mini air filter unit into the fume tents and say they cant detect any smells. Additionally Ive seen an increase in "ECO" resins that are supposed to be "Smell Free". I just use basic resin.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fastbilly1 View Post
I have been eyeing a resin printer for a while for figures. Dragonslayer2, the only thing missing is can you give a reference point on of how much can be printed at once and time to do it? On the assets you have obviously, rough estimates.

On SLA how long does it take to do a single hex piece and a say a tree?
On Resin how long does it take to print a single figure, and how many standard figures can fit on your Anycubic Mono X - like a Marrow Warrior?
Cant really speak to SLA but the time for resin DLP printers is purely based on the height of the model. The mono X can print about 12 marro drones in under 3 hours. The photon s can print 6 in about 4 hours. One of the smaller trees would take around 6 hours but you could prolly fit about 8 of them on a single mono X build plate. Water tiles/standard hexes would take even less time. I suspect water tiles would be under, hour, standard hexes around 1-1.5hrs, and you could prolly get about 8 tiles per mono X build plate if I were to guess. (assuming you print the tiles flat. You could get a lot more by lining them up vertically but you would increase your print time to about 3ish hours on the mono x) Plus cleaning and curing times.
This is all incredibly helpful, unquoted image included. One bit of information I've been unsure about is the amount of figures I'd be able to print at once, so I'm glad to see those examples/estimates.

You mentioned FDM would be better for terrain. By this, do you mean mostly obstacles such as fences and walls? Or do you mean to include terrain tiles as well? Would it work to print tiles using an FDM printer? One thing that turns me off to FDM is the printing lines and the "graininess" look of the finished product. I'm not sure if printing lines would be an issue for the interlocking system, or if the finished product would look... cheap? overall. What are your thoughts on this?

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Old August 12th, 2022, 11:06 AM
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Re: Getting Started with 3D Printing

Quote:
Originally Posted by 'Scaper94 View Post
You mentioned FDM would be better for terrain. By this, do you mean mostly obstacles such as fences and walls? Or do you mean to include terrain tiles as well? Would it work to print tiles using an FDM printer? One thing that turns me off to FDM is the printing lines and the "graininess" look of the finished product. I'm not sure if printing lines would be an issue for the interlocking system, or if the finished product would look... cheap? overall. What are your thoughts on this?
The answer isn't exactly straight forward. You can do a lot with an FDM printer and get some amazing results. Check out this reddit post where someone compares an FDM v Resin printed mini. I have printed minis with my FDM printer, however, it took SO MUCH time and effort to calibrate and tune it for that level of detail.

FDM can definitely print terrain tiles (I haven't tried that) but it uses thermal polymers. My concern would be the the expansion/contraction of the material during this process could cause tiles to be too loose or too tight. This wouldn't be a deal breaker but might require tuning of the printer or modifying the file to compensate for the materials behavior. This is why I say FDM is better for terrain (trees, walls, buildings, etc).

Quick Google search and I found this image which has 3D printed tiles



So FDM printed tiles are definitely feasible and it's possible to limit that layer line graininess. It's all just a matter of calibrations

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Old August 12th, 2022, 11:26 AM
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Re: Getting Started with 3D Printing

@TREX can probably offer some advice here.

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Old August 12th, 2022, 12:05 PM
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Re: Getting Started with 3D Printing

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Originally Posted by Tornado View Post
@TREX can probably offer some advice here.
I probably could. Between me and my brother, we have printed thousands of miniatures. My brother currently runs his website to produce affordable high quality resin scape prints with stickers and bases. I also have my own assets including my dice tray and dicetower designs on there. I'll link it just for kicks.
http://www.trexy3d.com

While I strongly encourage people to embrace and use 3d printing, because it is super fun, allows tons of fun additions to gaming, and is a great source of creativity, I'll echo that it is in fact a hobby of its own. If you are thinking, I'll just pick up a printer and have lots of cool stuff, you'd be right, but you also need to know there are lots of caveats to it. There's lots of work involved in keeping all your printers up and running, initial costs, upkeep costs, etc. In short, make sure it's right for you. It isn't for everyone. Research first, to save yourself some headache. I used to give advice quite often, but with all the resources out there on YouTube, etc, I don't usually waste my time trying to explain things to people when they aren't serious about it. If you're mechanically inclined, or you enjoy creativity, or just enjoy creating things, I highly recommend getting into the printing hobby. Hand in hand with that, I'd suggest learning the 3d modeling as well. You can't do the one too well without the other. I'm not going to say it's hard to do, because for me it isnt most of the time. I'm also not going to say it's easy, because at times, even a seasoned mechanic like me can become frustrated. Just do your research before you jump is all the advice I'm handing out, and good luck. It really is quite an amazing hobby if you can make it work.
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