3D printing is growing both in the areas of industry and as a hobby. Many tabletop gaming players dream of getting a 3D printer and printing up all the models they’ve always wanted.
While that may be possible for some, most 3D printing hobbyists can’t afford to by the level of printer that it takes to print models for games like BattleTech. Most of the 3D printers available to consumers are not suited for that kind of detailed printing. That’s not to say that these printers aren’t capable of some amazing things, but usually models in the BattleTech game scale are not something they can handle.
So what kinds of things can consumer level 3D printers do? In the roughly six months that I’ve been into the 3D printing hobby, I’ve printed some pretty cool stuff. Statues, terrain, Pokemon, and more. There are a ton of things to do with a 3D printer if you take the time to learn how they work. I don’t know near everything about 3D printing, and I’m having a great time with it.
A couple of weeks ago, I was browsing through Thingiverse, which is an amazing website full of free 3D printable files that creators have uploaded to the website to share with the community.
As I was browsing I found the page of creator LordNova2 who had shared a couple of really cool MechWarrior and BattleTech related designs. Among those designs was a Clan Ghost Bear medallion. Being a Ghost Bear at heart, I had to download it right away.
And then, I completely forgot about it, until a few nights ago.
One of my 3D printers (I have two) had just come off a big project I was working on, and I decided to print something fun. I thought I would share the process that followed my decision.
- I loaded the Clan Ghost Bear .STL file into my slicing program, Simplify3D and prepared it for print.
- I transferred the print file onto an SD card and loaded it up on my Wanhao Duplicator i3 printer.
- I came back two hours to find this waiting for me.
- After some time spent cleaning off excess filament and freeing the medallion from its raft, I sprayed on some Army Painted Ultramarine Blue primer and basecoat.
3D printing tip: I used some sandpaper on the bottom side of the medallion to smooth it out a bit after clipping off the raft section. It is possible to print without a raft to avoid this step, but I didn’t want to risk the medallion warping.
- After the primer dried, I sat down at my paint station, and it took just about two hours with my Anita’s Acrylic paints from Hobby Lobby (More on that at a later time. I think I’m going to be switching my paint to Folk Art soon.) to get the Clan Ghost Bear logo ready for varnish.
- After that, I hit the whole thing with some matte varnish and let it sit overnight.
This project was fun and took relatively little time, about 5 hours total, including print time.
I highly recommend 3D printing as a hobby for many reasons, as I have found it rewarding and time well spent. It is a challenging hobby, but is also full of fun and treasures (that you can print!).
If you have any questions about 3D printing or about the Ghost Bear medallion, feel free to post them in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them.
3D Printing encompasses many different technologies. The latest SLA printer from Form Lab is about $2800 and is quite capable of printing Battletech scale parts. Also, DIY printers capable of similar resolution can be made with a modified DLP projector for less than $200.
If you are at GenCon Indianapolis this year, look me up, and I will bring some printed pieces to demonstrate.
You mentioned switching to Folk Art paints, but I had quite terrible luck with those when trying to paint minis. Of all things, the cheap Americana brand (also at Hobby Lobby) has actually served me well on pewter, though I don’t know how well it’ll do on 3D-printed plastic/filament. Apple Barrel from Walmart also did me well.