Saturday, April 25, 2015

3D printing of miniatures

This week, the winners of the Miniature House Contest of Shapeways (3D printing company) were announced.
Congratulations to the winners Otterine, Aliceminiatures and Paperdollminiatures!
I was very chuffed to see that some winners used products I have in my Shapeways shop :-)))

Let me share with you how producing 1:12 items in 3D works:
I started printing in 3D because  the choice of design furniture in 1:12 is very limited - could not find what I wanted to buy. And: I did not fancy making 6 of the same, e.g. chairs...
So, I went to a 3D design workshop - just to find out that this would mean spending lots of time at the computer until I was good enough to draw what I had in mind! Definitely a no-go!!

Getting the drawings/files:
I search the internet for original 1:1 files of a specific product. Many manufacturers offer DWG files on their websites for architects and these can be downloaded for free. The best source for buying files of design furniture is Turbosquid for contemporary furniture models. Here a list of a few others:
At first, I commissioned a friend of my son for the drawing part. But his speed and my speed differed somewhat and I did not want to wait forever until he could had time for my things ;-). So, I changed to a professional, Vijay at I found on Shapeways. He does a great job, is affordable and really fast! My thinking was that the drawing costs would be balanced out with money I saved while doing minis rather than hitting the cinemas and all ;-)

Running a shop and selling products to others:
Shapeways offers the possibility to have a 'shop' - meaning that I could share my models with everybody. I think that this is a great idea because there must be other frustrated mini builders out there having the same problem as I have!!

The 'shop' is not a money maker because I have a mark-up of 10-15% on all items I sell there. It would take many years to get anywhere close to cover the design costs.. And Shapeways has the naughty habit of regularly changing their printing machines and suddenly files are not printable any longer! So, my designer has to update files (not for free of course..).

You see that there is no way that anyone can make money with 3D printed minis if drawing is done by a 3rd party: the development and maintenance cost are high and the demand is limited.

But maybe you want to give it a try for something you desperately want? Just let me know if you run into problems - I gladly share my experience in 3D printing.