Left of Arc #10 – 3D Printing Economics – part 2

Whilst I slowly set about ebay’ing the very last of my Warhammer models, I “may” have bought a new rule book…

After a brutal Bolt Action game where my US Airborne got slaughtered, I finally decided that whilst the models look really nice, I’m essentially playing a take on Warhammer 40k – the fancy options are limited, playing historically accurate forces gets you a beating, and there’s cheese for days.  Although this could just be a symptom of wargaming… or me being an unpracticed, shite, player.

I’m also falling more in love with 15mm scale.  I keep coming back to the point that it retains a good amount of detail per model, you can fill a table with company- / battalion-level play, or have a really good skirmish game.  Cost wise the scale is pretty darn good, and painting the models is a lot quicker!

So whilst I’m aware of good alternative rules to Bolt Action, I’m focusing my attention on Battlefront Miniatures and Flames of War.  Figuring I’d stick with the US forces for the time being, I bought their D-Day forces book to see what’s what.  Needless to say, I’m pretty excited!  Yet, even a relatively small 75pt force could cost an arm and a leg.  However, after investigating other companies that sell metal 15mm figures, I stumbled upon 3DBreed Miniatures, a Spanish company that exclusively sells digital files for 3D printing.  Very interesting, indeed!

Let’s look at the difference in cost for a 75pt Airborne Company:

I’d need a total of 6 SMG troopers, 12 LMG troopers (gunner/loader), 12 bazooka troopers (gunner/loader), 60 rifle troopers, 6 60mm mortar troopers (gunner/loader), 12 81mm mortar troopers (gunner/loader/+1), 16 57mm AT gun troopers (4per gun), 16 75mm howitzer troopers (4per gun).

That list from Battlefront Miniatures would cost just shy of £150 not including postage.  Purchasing the Airborne digital pack from 3DBreed Miniatures would cost a little over £25, but since the company doesn’t have any howitzers or AT guns, I would need to find them elsewhere – however, I’m sure there would be free files on Thingiverse.

Since I’m fairly convinced that the 3D print material cost wouldn’t amount to £125, it seems a no-brainer to 3D print rather than buy metal.

The only cost that 3D printing falls down on is time.  Whilst a 15mm high figure would take approximately 2-3 hours to print, there is only so much print surface one can use.  So, printing this 75pt list would take probably about a week’s worth of printing (not including prep time).

Makes a convincing argument to spend extra time to save a boatload of money!

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