3D prints and contents

3D printing is still far from being as smooth as resin casting or plastic casting, the consumer grade are far from the quality of industrial CNC machines while higher quality printing are still over the roof and not efficient enough for mass production in hobby business. therefore vehicle kits, especially those smooth, thin skin, cleaner cuts and high piece count, yet extremely detailed, still have their place in miniature.

On the fiction side of modelling, the availability of 3D prints and 3D sculptors have really take over this portion of the market. 3D printing open more possibility like reducing part count and more customization from part option to size. The files are easy to get and printing process is generally already set up with all of the software. Though, the upfront cost, raw material cost and priting time might be the biggest constraint. 3D printed model users also have a more open tolerance than scale modellers because of possible machine or resin error. Scale models needs to be on the correct ratio scale for some equipment, while 3D fiction can be ‘about the right size’ and generally not for scale. Personally, even when I request to print a models, I still have the mindset of a scale modeller and have thing to the scale I want and not ‘about right’, which lead to some quite time consuming process to find the right proportion.

With the resurgence of 3D printer users here on Kitmaker, welcomed with open arms from the members, enough that some of are making hobby business with it. Though, it is still limited to already popular subject here and not on the fiction side, such has vehicles and history.

Not all files are easy to print or the quality is as good as it looks from the software. I usually have to go down to the “troubleshot” of other forums or some random convo on the internet check on the quality. Since customs are made by request, it is usually a hit and miss to buy them online and it is hard to have an printed example from online shop. Where I request my customs is an actual shop and I had on hand example to check on their quality.

Rather than having more fiction product, I thought that it would be nice to have someone with 3D printer here to print out files bought from the internet as a way to review them. Big, small size, multi parts etc. require different way to printing and they are a can of worm by themselves and I have little experience. It could also fill this part of the forums with more interesting stuff.

P/s: I don’t have printer, but I have bought some 3D files. I did do some sharing, but I’m against reselling files, and I want people to supports the files’ artists. Most artists are fine with their supporters selling printed models though.

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Not sure if your avatar is to show support for Ukraine, but if it is shouldn’t the blue be on top since it represents the sky and the golden color represents the wheat they grow?

3D printing as a subject covers a lot of ground. I kind of see where you’re going with this suggestion, and I also agree that more information about the process, to include possibly reviews of purchased files, would be helpful to the larger scale modeling community.

However, most scale modelers don’t know much about the practical side or the basics involved. I’d say that most scale modelers don’t really understand or appreciate the differences between the various 3D printing systems (FDM, DLP, or SLA) nor do they understand or appreciate the differences between consumer, desk-top printers and light-duty commercial printers (and how what type system and quality printer an AM parts vendor is using effects the quality of the 3D parts they’re buying). They don’t really understand things like “infil” (FDM printers) or “supports,” “hollowing,” and “venting” (DLP and SLA printers). “Nozzle size” (FDM), “layer height” (all types), “anti-aliasing” (DLP and SLA), “printer volume” (all types) and “voxel resolution calculations” (all types) are not in the vocabularies of most scale modelers who don’t actually own and use a 3D printer.

I could see the value in reviews of the quality of the work by various 3D designers who offer their designs as “printable” files to be purchased. Unfortunately, unless someone actually has a 3D printer, I’m not sure exactly how useful the details of such reviews might be.

Is the design generally accurate, detailed and correctly scaled? All useful items of info. However, was the 3D mesh integrity good? Maybe not so much…

Is it generally useful or valuable information to know, say, if an .stl had “mesh errors” or that a design wouldn’t print without “hollowing and venting”? The same might be said of the many other various printing preparation tasks that must be done (and tested and then often revised) for the successful 3D printing of any design. Factors about the resolution of the printer being used, the slicing software (to include anti-aliasing features), and the brand and types of resin (for DLP and SLA printers) or filaments (for FDM printers) all impact on how easily or successfully any particular design can be printed.

(And this doesn’t even touch things like “ready to print” descriptions. Really? Oriented, hollowed, vented, supported, sliced and ready to print? Layer height set? Exposure times set? Base layers and anti-aliasing all good? Hmmm… I think not.)

Much of this technical information is proprietary or system specific, so it doesn’t translate easily across different platforms and end-users. For example, it does me very little good to read someone else’s reviews about how he or she oriented, sliced and adjusted dimensions to get a successful print using a Formlabs 3 printer, PreForm software, and Formlabs resin when I’m using a 3 year old Anycubic Photon, Chitubox V1.5 and Elegoo Standard Gray resin.

I’d love to read more posts and threads about other modelers experiences with 3D printing and see examples of their work. But then again, I do a pretty fair amount of 3D design and printing for my own modeling projects. I’m just not sure how much of that would be interesting and useful to others.

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I’d just like to be able to understand it without investing a whole lot of time in research. Someone to explain it in layman’s language.

Here’s a little primer that I wrote a couple of years back for our modeling club. It was eventually expanded into a seminar presentation (pitched at an IPMS Nats and a regional show in Florida). The presentation was eventually made into a serialized, 3-part article for the AMPS Boresight magazine.

It’s a bit dated since the technology is constantly changing and improving, and I wrote this little piece shortly after I got started in 3D printing, so my own level of experience was pretty low at the time. However, the fundamental info is still correct, and it should give you a fair start.

3D Printing for the Scale Modeler

Unfortunately, once past the basics, things get complicated and, as I mentioned above, very dependent on the specific printer and supporting software that’s being used.

Not all 3D printers and print projects are equal. The same can be said for vendors of 3D AM parts and accessories. Design talent and skills along with the quality of the printer and software are huge discriminators.

I remember reading the series in Boresight. Read it several times in fact and I was still baffled. One of the guys in our club has become something of an expert so I will try to hit him up after I read the article you wrote again. Thanks Mike.

I saw the OP’s idea as not being about the tech, so much as just getting somebody to buy, download, and print products from available files to see if the results match the promises of the CAD renders. (Is it in scale? Is it detailed or just a blob? etc) It’s a great idea, but it’s a monumental job - who has the time, money, and talent to print and review ALL the AM stuff available to print? Not this little rubber duck…


Thank you for expanding what I wanted to say. Nevertheless, it is a lot of information to digest and I don’t think that I can write well enough to make it clear.

Many people showcase their print, but they are rather scattered and each print in their own way, which in the end become hit and miss on more detailed designs. The artists are generally very helpful and open to help, but they can’t cover everything themselves neither. There is a lot of trial and error in 3D printing. The 3rd party sellers (on ebay and etsy for example) most of the time accept custom scale, but the lack of actual printed model showcase make the purchase decision difficult due to the complexity of the matter as mentioned.

@barkingdigger Most of the assembly and painting for our more traditional figures take as much time, and, in the eyes of the 3D printer users, it is just as difficult and monumental. For many, Gundam models already have a lot of parts. However, in essence, that’s how I imagine it. Many people are seeking for such place, too. There is definitely interest in this topic. It is not only for printers, but for people purchasing from 3rd party, too.

Granted, that’s a lot of ambition here, hence why I want to see how people think about it therefore making a collective work, just like how we have so many people reviewed the kits (which I used on the old forums to make my purchase decision) and talented artists making all of excellent those diorama.

@brekinapez Inverted colours* you can use invert colour tool and see the result, because it was/is a hot topic across online forums, so an indirect gesture online without kicking a hive. I will change to something else later.

Fair enough.

I’d be more than happy to look at reviews posted by others before I buy a product, but I certainly don’t have the time to do all the reviews myself - especially if I need to buy the product first and print it. You’d need some organised set-up where a host pays for the items and gets them printed so the reviewer isn’t out of pocket, and then the host needs to pay for the webspace to host the collected reviews. Then they need to find enough knowledgeable reviewers to deal with the flood of new products coming out! But we can dream…

You mentioned “custom scale” - I’d steer clear of any product that the vendor says can be resized to any scale! I design stuff to print, and believe me you put more detail on things at bigger scales because it can be seen. And I’ve been asked to “fix” files that have been grabbed from the web and turn out to be rubbish. So I can assure you the underlying 3D model file that was designed to work at 1:72 will look blocky and crude if printed at 1:35, and the file designed for 1:35 may turn out as a smooth blur if printed at 1:72 because we need to exaggerate details in smaller scales so they can be seen with our 1:1 eyes. I’ve seen many products that claim to be scale-able but that is a warning sign to me that the designer either does not understand the effects of scale or just does not care about the quality of their product.


That’s exactly my concern.

Though, I have a post of 3d printed from scaled down models, like the Doom or Star Wars one, which are 30cm and 20cm original size, yet the prints got scaled down to 1/32 and 1/24 very well. Of course the machines and resins capable of doing that are not cheap. Some sellers I contacted said that they can’t do small size because their resins are not good enough, not enough stock to cure correctly, and brittle. This, as I mentioned in the OP, is a big can of worm.

I don’t know, maybe I can contact the 3D printing service I use of they have interest (following the Kitmaker rules of course). All I want is to get more informed decision before purchasing anything, which we all do here from time to, and also make this section of the forums a little more lively.

P/s: I have no business with the 3D printing service other than being a client. As a client, I find that their provide good quality despite their business small size.