Saturday, November 14, 2020

Even More 3D Printing

Sorry that I haven't been posting more on my blog, but I've been distracted by my new 3D printer. Earlier this year, there was a Kickstarter from the famous 3D printer manufacturer Creality for their new FDM (i.e. print by extruding plastic filament, rather than by UV-hardening resin) printer, the CR-6SE. Not having an FDM printer, which is suited for larger models and terrain, I bought into the Kickstarter and received my printer a couple of months ago. This is a good supplement to my current resin printer, which can't do any larger models and is rather messy and toxic. An FDM printer is much easier to use, and no cleaning is required.

Creality took some flak for this Kickstarter, since there were quality control problems. However, I think I was lucky, and I haven't had any issues yet.

Here's the printer in all its glory. It has a typical design for an FDM printer, with a print head moving on the X, Y, and Z axes.
I primarily got the machine to print terrain, for example this cobblestone street tile above for fantasy games. However, I did try to see how far I could push the resolution.


I started by comparing the same items being printed from both the CR-6SE and my Sparkmaker, the resin printer. As you can see above, the building tokens for Dropfleet commander provide a good comparison for the resolution and detail for each printer, with the white filament output on the left being from the FDM printer and the clear resin output on the right for the resin printer. I went in not expecting too much from the FDM printer, but it turned out quite good. Of course, the resolution is nowhere near the resin printer, but it's still good enough that I would use the prints as gaming tokens. They are also of course much sturdier than the resin prints.

For a sort of combination application, I also designed some movement trays for Kings of War. The one above is a 120 mm X 80 mm base for large infantry, taking in models with round 40 mm bases. I also printed some earth elementals from Thingiverse to fit in the tray, and they look decent.

Pushing things a bit further with larger models, I printed this cacodemon from the Doom video games, again from Thingiverse. Aside from the support not having dealt well with the thin arms, the print turned out pretty amazing. I think with some post-processing (i.e. sanding, etc.) this can work as a regular game miniature. There's more than enough detail to make it a success for tabletop use.

For my next Kings of War army, which is going to be either Kingdoms of Men or League of Rhordia, I came up with some combination ideas for miniatures, like the 3D printed riding bear above (again from Thingiverse) with a Perry historical knight miniature. Even for miniatures, I think the CR-6SE opens up quite a few possibilities.

With all this experimentation, I ran out of the original spool of white filament from Creality, and I bought some orange coloured filament (eSun PLA+) from Amazon. The new filament looks even better to my eyes for smaller miniatures, like this lizardman warrior from Fat Dragon Games' excellent range of 3D printable miniatures. It might also just be the colour making things look more defined. In general though, I'll leave smaller miniatures to resin for better detail. You can see the stringing in the photo above, which is just one of many issues when printing smaller items with a lot of detail.


In addition to miniatures, I also do more "useful" prints. For example, I've always needed a way to fix my joystick to my office chair to provide stability. Thanks again to Thingiverse, I found a set of support mounts for joysticks. These fix my joystick using plastic "thumb screws", which allow it to get put on and taken off my chair very easily, with good stability when playing games.

All in all, I think this printer was a great purchase and will provide a lot of fun and useful moments.

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