Sunday, September 22, 2019

Supporting your miniatures.. Literally!

Since getting the printer, I've been spending time honing in some settings as well as getting the hang of properly supporting home printed 3d models.  My initial foray(s) were mainly using auto generated supports with a few extra that I added for spots that I thought needed them.  Unfortunately, the results didn't turn out so well as shown in the previous post.  I've been learning more about where and when to place custom supports and they've improved the final appearance of the model with each iteration (newest print on the left, oldest on the right).

It's not perfect by any means as, despite my added supports, the gunclub (a combo of the two weapons for the RPG character) remains a bit bowed where it meets the hand but at least the globs of fused support and model are gone.  I didn't notice any areas of failure to print so I'm probably (other than the before mentioned gunclub) adequately to overly supporting the model.  As long as the cleanup is manageable and mostly invisible, I'm ok with the latter!

Here is the final result painted.  From L to R, we have a GW Primaris marine, my earlier Shapeways printed Krogan, my recent home printed Krogan, and a prepainted Star Wars miniature circa 2008.

Overall, I'd put the crispness of the detail somewhere between my (admittedly dated) prepainted PVC miniature and modern GW plastics at the above printed layer height of 50 microns (with a 47 micron accuracy on the XY plane due to the 1440p/"2k" LCD screen).  For something printed at home in a few hours, I'd call that a resounding success considering it took me over a month to get the Shapeways krogan after payment!   It's unfortunately not an exact like for like comparison though as my 3d modelling (or more accurately tweaking) skills have improved somewhat and I did learn how to smooth out the obvious polygon facets visible on the krogan as well as his layer height being set to approximately 1/3 (16 microns) that of the home print.  At least for my thoroughly mediocre painting abilities, I don't think the added difference shows in the final product.

Along with the krogan, I decided to reprint NXR Star Trek ship as well since I had plenty of room on the build plate and wanted to test out both the custom supports as well as a true vertical orientation on the model at 50 microns instead of the previous 45 degree angle/20 micron/auto support print shown on the left.

There is some difference in this model in terms of fine detail but I can't say whether the orientation or the layer height had more to do with it.  It's evident in the overall softness and the shallowness of the depth of the saucer elements like the cover over the front saucer tip where the original NX deflector was.  Like the krogan, this model wasn't specifically made for 3d printing so shallowness of details is to be expected somewhat but it's a bit more muted than I expected.  I haven't painted this model (obviously ) and I am curious how much of it will show through after a layer of primer, paint, and wash are applied.  Regardless, I'd have to test out a fully vertical 20 micron print to see how much of that loss is due to each factor.  Due to the length of time that would take, I'd probably wait to do that for when I'm ready to print out a full build plate of Trek ships so as to maximize the results for the longer print as a vertical starship is significantly taller than my other mainly wargaming character prints.

Well, those are my 3d printing results for this past week.  As always, feel free to comment below and thanks for reading.  More to come in about a week!


  1. Hey, did you have a chance to paint the NX refit yet? Curious to see how well all the detail came out.

    1. No, I haven't unfortunately. I've come to the conclusion that I enjoy converting models more (whether digitally or physically) than painting and I need relatively immediate motivation for the latter. I've recently joined an rpg group at the FLGS so I've been focusing more on my character (the Krogan previewed already) as well as customizing miniatures for other players who don't have one they own that is to their liking. I do hope to get back to printing out some trek minis and painting them up as well but nothing to show right now.