As I understand it Shapeways either owns a bunch of 3D printers or out sources their work to 3rd party printers (I suspect a combination of both). Either way they allow individuals who have knowledge of the CAD software to upload their designs and then print them on demand. Once a design is uploaded and approved anyone can order it.
The buzz started about Shapeways on gaming forums I am a member as gamers started to turn to it as a source to create new minis or obtain hard to find collectible minis. I was skeptical for some time and resisted trying it. Now that WotC has more or less abandoned one of my favorite games, War at Sea, and there have been two new fan produced "sanctioned" card decks I decided to give it a try.
Once ordered the models arrive in about 10 days give or take with a flat shipping charge of $6.50 no matter how many models you order.
|Two orders placed close together arrived on the same day|
|First Shapeways minis I ever ordered upon arrival|
After some trials I can now produce minis that are hard to tell apart form the factory made ones WotC produced and in most cases the detail is much better. Most importnatly it is a means to get models that are playable in the game that no comapany has produced or are not easily proxied with existing models.
This is the basic process I currently follow to produce my desired results:
|Some of the products I use|
2. Blow of the model to ensure all residue is gone.
3. Brush on two heavy coats of matte varnish (Currently use Vallejo).
4. Spray on gloss coat of clear finish (currently use Rustoleum)
5. Spray on Gray primer (Again use Rustoleum)
6. Paint desired colors
7. Apply black wash to desired affect
8. Spray on Gloss coat
9. Dry brush to desired affect
10. Spray on 1-2 coats of Tester's "Dull coat" matte finish
|Step 1 and 2 complete and models sorted with their stat card|
|Step 3: Two coats of Matte Varnish applied|
|Step 4&5: Gloss Coat and then Primer applied top and bottom|
|Super Yamato "Tsushima"|
|B-14 Flying Fortress|
|HMS Roberts (Monitor)|
Obviously this is not for everyone. If you have no desire to paint what so ever than 3D printing is not for you. The process is pretty easy now that I have it done. I can get a batch of models to the prime stage in one evening. Then I can paint to completion several at a time.
Here is a video on how it all works:
My guess is many will have questions about cost. So far I have found the cost comparable more or less than most WotC models. In some cases they are much cheaper due to the collectible nature of the WotC models. A few I have avoided because the cost seemed a bit high to me. Over time my guess is the costs will start to come down as the 3D printing process is further refined.
Later on I will likely replace some of my duplicate WotC models with Shapeways and sell the WotC version which will cover several shapeways models due to the highly collectible nature of some of the WotC models.
In the end I am very happy with the results and 3D printing has opened up a entirely new realm of possibilities for my gaming.