Alex Schmidt
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Boardgamers spend hours painting minis and building foam core inserts. Companies can charge a premium for replacement components and custom inserts.

In this DIY heavy hobby, why haven't more boardgamers embraced 3D printing?

Check out some of these amazing projects (cherry picked from this exhaustive - but sadly outdated - GeekList: https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/186909/3d-prints-board-ga... Note, I asked a similar question in the comments of this GeekList, but I wanted to pose this question to a broader audience)

* Dominion card holder - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:237898
* Galaxy Trucker component bins - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:332813
* Castles of Mad King Ludwig component tray - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1340812
* Codenames box replacement - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1013966
* Tikal 3D temples - https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/101932/tikal-temple-piece...

I can imagine a world, in the not-too-distant future, where instead of spending an evening fiddling with foam core and glue to build myself a decent insert for a game, I can create an open source schematic and share that with the community, allowing thousands of other boardgame nuts to pimp their game on the shoulders of my hard work. A community where the love for a game inspires custom components that everyone can create in their own home for minimal time and monetary investment.

Aside from the slow adoption of home 3D printers, and the technical know-how required to set up and use the hardware and software, what do you feel is holding back this blissful future?
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Anthony C
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The lack of a 3D printer is what keeps me from printing my own components or replacement boxes but if I had one, I'd definitely be printing things out. As far as making my own, I have no idea where to even start.
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Adastra
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Probably because 3D printers cost a lot of money and need a lot of space. I have neither
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Bwian, just
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theSlex wrote:
Aside from the slow adoption of home 3D printers, and the technical know-how required to set up and use the hardware and software, what do you feel is holding back this blissful future?

3D printers aren't the best tool for the job. Large, flat boxes and containers are better made in flat pieces on a laser cutter, then fit together. Trying to do the same with a 3D printer would be slow, and generally have much worse tolerances. Trying to print the box as one piece on a 3D printer would remove the need for some tolerances, but not all, and possibly take even longer.

(This is based on the hobby-level equipment I have access to. I'm sure there is professional equipment that can handle the problem. But that begs the question on why more gamers don't have professional cardboard folding equipment...)
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Jamie Specht
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raevynn wrote:
Probably because 3D printers cost a lot of money and need a lot of space. I have neither

I thought it was a common thing for public libraries to have them, just like copiers and printers.
Maybe not.
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Jamie Specht
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Bwian wrote:
theSlex wrote:
Aside from the slow adoption of home 3D printers, and the technical know-how required to set up and use the hardware and software, what do you feel is holding back this blissful future?

3D printers aren't the best tool for the job. Large, flat boxes and containers are better made in flat pieces on a laser cutter, then fit together. Trying to do the same with a 3D printer would be slow, and generally have much worse tolerances. Trying to print the box as one piece on a 3D printer would remove the need for some tolerances, but not all, and possibly take even longer.

(This is based on the hobby-level equipment I have access to. I'm sure there is professional equipment that can handle the problem. But that begs the question on why more gamers don't have professional cardboard folding equipment...)


What about if you are talking about the last thing he listed: premium components?
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For me it's price and ecological/pollution concerns.

Plus there is a certain pleasure in hand-crafting something.
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OutOfHabit wrote:
I thought it was a common thing for public libraries to have them, just like copiers and printers.
Maybe not.

My local library just recently got wifi, so...
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Mark T
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theSlex wrote:

Aside from the slow adoption of home 3D printers, and the technical know-how required to set up and use the hardware and software, what do you feel is holding back this blissful future?


Whether you like it or not, I think you've already put your finger on the majority motivation. If I could hazard a guess, I'd say the three issues you've mentioned above accounts for at least 85-90% of why 3D printing is not more widely used as you envision.
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Bwian, just
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OutOfHabit wrote:
What about if you are talking about the last thing he listed: premium components?

Premium components would work. 3D printing is slower than most people think it is, but boardgame components are pretty small. Hobby-level resolution isn't enough to make faces or other fine features, but that still leaves plenty of pieces that can look good.
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Paul DeStefano
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3D printers aren't quite there yet in terms of speed and cost.
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Alexandre P.
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theSlex wrote:
Boardgamers spend hours painting minis and building foam core inserts.


I have never actually met a boardgamer doing anything more complex than using zipbags, some sort of boxes and eventually an other box.

theSlex wrote:
In this DIY heavy hobby, why haven't more boardgamers embraced 3D printing?


You need to learn how to do that, then buy what you need and then spend time doing it.

So it costs time and money and it rewards you only if it's way better than what is already out and if you like doing it.
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I don't participate in the trick-it-out portion of the hobby. As long as the shit fits in the box, I could care less, so design inserts, holders, etc. isn't a necessity for me.
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Dianna
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Expense? For a consumer, it's almost as expensive to outfit a game as it is to get a new one.

That said, there are luckily two good places to find 3D printed good shops: Shapeways and Etsy. Search for "dead of winter" or ffg rather than board games if you'd rather avoid the endless stream of chess pieces.
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Apparently not in this country...
 
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Ze Masqued Cucumber
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theSlex wrote:
Aside from the slow adoption of home 3D printers, and the technical know-how required to set up and use the hardware and software, what do you feel is holding back this blissful future?

Mmmm. Laziness? Lack of time? Lack of interest?

Let's make a bold comparison.
I see in your profile that you own over 100 games.
BGG offers a gazillon of excellent files (tuckboxes, player aids, etc.), ready to print on any inkjet/laser printer.
How many files have you downloaded on BGG for the games you own?
If > 0, how many of these files have you actually used (i.e. printed/cut/glued)?

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Alex Schmidt
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Let's see. Maybe eight or ten player aids. I pass those out every time we pay those games. Another half dozen or so abbreviated or combined rule books (Battlestar for all expansions with cherry picked modules).

Paper tuck boxes aren't my style for storage, but I've used images of foam core inserts as inspiration for three or four games.
 
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It is a cost and access issue. It is still a field of early adaptors. The price point hasn't dropped enough for them to be ubiquitous enough for easy access.
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Bwian, just
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Based on your profile, you might want to check out one of these spaces: https://wiki.hackerspaces.org/Wisconsin . Hackerspaces (or makerspaces) often have 3D printers and people who will help you use them. It might cost some money, but much less than a setup of your own.
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theSlex wrote:
Let's see. Maybe eight or ten player aids. I pass those out every time we pay those games. Another half dozen or so abbreviated or combined rule books (Battlestar for all expansions with cherry picked modules).

Paper tuck boxes aren't my style for storage, but I've used images of foam core inserts as inspiration for three or four games.

So you've somehow pimped about 15% of your games. This is a fairly large amount IMO.
Considering the size your collection, the fact that you post on boardgamegeek, in the DIY subforum, I'd say you belong an very small niche of hardcore gamers.
I think the average gamer just doesn't bother. And he wouldn't even less bother if the work involved is more complex and the time is longer than for printing a player aid (not mentioning cost).
If one day 3D printers are as easy to operate & maintain as inkjet printers today, uses of 3D printing for game pimping will be about the same than today's use of inkjet printing. That is, limited to hardcore gamers.
Just my opinion.
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Michael Off The Shelf Board Game Reviews
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I would need $2500 quality at a sub $1000 price point before I took the plunge. I am old enough to remember when a junky dot matrix printer was top of the line and cost nearly a $1,000. With today's technology I can get photo quality on cardboard stock for under $250.00.

It's not necessarily the cost as much as quality for the cost. Spending $2500 for what barely surpasses pawns I can find in a copy of Sorry isn't tempting me enough. Given time the technology will get there and then I will invest.
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Grumsh wrote:
I would need $2500 quality at a sub $1000 price point before I took the plunge. I am old enough to remember when a junky dot matrix printer was top of the line and cost nearly a $1,000. With today's technology I can get photo quality on cardboard stock for under $250.00.

It's not necessarily the cost as much as quality for the cost. Spending $2500 for what barely surpasses pawns I can find in a copy of Sorry isn't tempting me enough. Given time the technology will get there and then I will invest.


I've gotten a Wanhao Duplicator i3 for $400 shipped to my door. Accessories I added ran up another $50 or so, and material is +/-$20/roll.

I'm not sure what the quality is like on a $2,500+ printer, I know there is some exciting experimental stuff and the resin-printers look like they're much higher resolution/detail for non-structural stuff, but I'm pretty happy with it now that I've dialed it in.

The biggest problem is that you actually can't just print whatever you want. If you find a model of something you like, if it's modeled for a different scale, it won't print well at a smaller game-size scale. For example, a hypothetical highly detailed 1:1 sailing ship 3d file: shrinking it down to 1:200 or less, the once-36" diameter mast is now about 1/8", the ropes are significantly less than the nozzle on any printer. With figures of people, the arms, legs, and weapons need scaling to keep them being wide enough to actually print - this is where 'epic' scale wargame figures with exaggerated features and weapons came from. Traditional manufacturing and 3d printing are both facing the same limits.

Usually you can scale up to the size of your printer's bed without trouble.

I've actually seen a number of simple holders like you're talking about on thingiverse, anything more complex than a hex, tile, a simple box for minis, or card holder would likely need to be custom designed by you or someone else dedicated to the game though.
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Technology goes through three stages: Enthusiast, Business, and Consumer. Most people mistake Enthusiast for Consumer, the main difference being that the Enthusiast will pay for a technology that is higher cost, lower quality, and more difficult to use than the Consumer. But, if you've been following KS miniature projects over the last few years, 3D printed miniatures as prototypes are more common, thus showing its use in the Business stage. It's certainly possible that the insert or plastic component in a boardgame you pick up was originally prototyped with 3D printing. Today, I was actually reading a post by Paulson Games, a small miniature company, on the Dakka Robotech thread. Just read the bolded parts. What I find interesting is that 3D printing is improving the conventional injection mold process.

Quote:
I see it as things coming full circle. When I approached PB (Palladim Books) about doing Robotech I was proposing that it use 3d printed models that would be used as masters and that the production pieces would be metal. That idea was thrown out in the quest for plastics, which was a much more complicated road and even further outside their realm of experience. They had worked with metal before with Rifts miniatures back in the 90's so they had at least some limited experience in that, but producing something in plastic, dealing with china, and the logistics of production outside the US were all things they had no background in and has cost the project dearly.

They later realized (and rather painfully) some of the issues these caused and were exploring options to do metals with GHQ as a solution to righting the KS direction, which is where things should have originally started had they not been blinded by the dollar signs that plastics seemed to promised.

I find it particularly amusing as since approaching GHQ they have also been working with several of the same 3d artists I originally would have used and they are just now (finally) starting to use the same printing company that I've been using since before the idea for RRT even hit Kevin's desk (2010). One might make the case that they could have saved themselves 5 years of headache *if* they'd bothered to listen to the advice they were being handed at the beginning, but what would I know.

3D has been "the next stage" in the evolution of minis for some time, while it will never completely replace hand sculpting it has so many advantages over traditional sculpting that it's already taken over the majority of new miniature design at least for the creation of the masters (and plastic mold engineering) The last 8 years or so has been where (knowledgable) people have caught onto the potential of what 3d can offer the industry, some of the slower companies are still dragging behind but as they say; the future is now.

In the last four-five years 3d has really entrenched itself as the new backbone for miniature design. This is due largely to advances in the printing tech which make the prints more detailed than before and there have also been advances in the casting process allowing for them to use prints easier with vulcanized molds, there have also been new refinements with using 3d to create molds for plastic injection. (slide core for example) Most of these have been around for a little while bit but it's taken time for the industry to experiment with them and put them to proper use. Now that they've become a "proven" process it's largely taking over as the preferred procedure for most companies. (privateer and GW were very fast to pick up on new 3d advances for sculpting)

Now almost every miniatures kickstarter is using 3d renders to promote their game concepts and as their source for creating their master models.
PB has been very far behind the curve when it comes to anything developed since 1990 and that's been the largest impact and limitation on the KS, they are very out of their element.

Because PB had no background in wargames Carmen is/was their resident "expert" when it came to wargames and he was giving Kevin some absolutely terrible advice, now he's also their "boardgame expert" so I have no faith in whatever the Rifts boardgame eventually shapes up to be. (which has been on the slow burner since at least 2009) Its a shame as I like the recently previewed miniature sculpt that Ben did but I really don't think they can handle producing anything beyond their RPGs and convention trinkets.


Context: http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/6540/651554....
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Ze Masqued Cucumber
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Sam and Max wrote:
What I find interesting is that 3D printing is improving the conventional injection mold process.

Actually it just catches on "regular" industry (i.e. not boardgames/miniatures industry). 3D has been used in injection molding for decades.
 
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James Wahl
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Expensive, slow, and doesn't improve gameplay.
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