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Rosa Miniatures and Games forms to breed bugs!

“Adventures in producing 3D Printer Miniatures for HiveQueen and Country” by Richard Delorme (Rosa Miniatures and Games)

In July 2013 I formed Rosa Miniatures and Games to develop miniatures for the Hive Queen and Country universe using the latest technology 3D printing.  This technology provide more details and permits overhanging parts, thus you will receive “bugs” of exceptional quality. Since the Hive Queen and Country universe is played as both a table top war-game (Hive and the Flame) and as a role-playing game (Stars of Empire), our miniature line for this game will be produced in both 15mm and 25mm.

One of the first task was experimenting to find the best materials and printer for the job.  It was quickly apparent that 3D printer manufactures frequently make claims that are exaggerated to say the least. Being cautious and having limited funds I asked for demonstrations / test prints of our first “bug” STL files.  The first four printers I tested failed dramatically: three of these were 3DSystems printers the Cubify, the Projet1500, and the Project3500; the Makerbot proved unable to meet the challenge, but to be fair to Makerbot, the company reps did not think the machine could print such a small highly detailed object.  The fifth printer was the Afinia, which gave suprisingly good results; they were not up to the extreme detail of the HiveQueen and Country designs, but it was close enough to do some prototyping.  I also gained the assistance of Tri-County Community College and Clemson University Material Science Laboratory which permitted me to experiment with resin based machines.

Above are three “Media Legionaries” at 25mm scale (40 mm in length).  The green miniature was made using an object machine and some “expired” resin.  The photo does not do justice to the fine detail on this model.  The white model was produced by Shapeways (at about 5 times the cost of the object model) and the detail is slightly less defined the models points are rounded. It appears that the machines Shapeways uses have problems with pointed extensions. The company rejected most of our models because of this issue.  The last model is of the Afinia and has been spray painted for use at Dragon Con gaming tables.  But it is very clear that the model lacks the fine detail found on the other models.  In our experience, ABS machines cannot produce fine points at all and small features are lost.

It became clear early on that a resin based machine was needed to manufacture the creatures for HiveQueen and Country, however at $90,000 an Object machine was outside our capital.  I was intreged by the Form1 machine but, Formlabs does not do business in SC for some nebulous legal reason that they will not explain.  However the company did produce a test sample of our most difficult creature at about twice the intended scale (see below).

 

 

A breakthrough came when I asked why FormLabs why they did not do business in SC on the company webb forum. A jeweler noticed my post on the FormLabs site and recommended the B9Creator.  Always willing to try a new machine, I logged onto the B9 Creator forum and a very nice teacher named Larry Watson (DC Schools) printed a bug for me using the B9Creator.  I had two more bugs made by AU Enterprises (see below).  The first is at 25mm scale and is about 65mm in length and the small is the same model is 15mm scale and is 40mm in length.

 

 

Our experimental work has determined that high resolution resins are the best material to produce high quality miniature of creatures.  We have been able to produce quality tanks using ABS plastic, but are having some difficulty with machine guns and smaller caliber artillery  barrels.  Given the larger size of vehicles it makes sense to use the lower cost ABS for the body of the tank and at this time the ABS machines generally have larger build volumes.