Hobby 2.0 – 3D printing for tabletop gaming

I’ve been sitting on the fence when it comes to 3D printing for a couple of years now.  This has partly been down to funds, but also in no small part to the time investment required and ease of use of both hardware and software.

However this last Christmas I took the opportunity to pick up a 3D printer for the first time.  After a couple of months of sitting in a box I finally got this up and running over the last couple of weeks and have started my journey into what I am calling ‘Hobby 2.0’.

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The printer I chose is a Creality CR-10S – a good budget printer with a large print bed

Let’s get things straight from the off, 3D printing at home is by no means a ‘plug and play’ experience yet.  Yes, the affordability has put this technology within the reach of most now (in the same way as other new technology over the years has gradually got both more affordable and more powerful over time).  The key thing to accept though is that 3D printing at the moment is a hobby in its own right.  It requires time and patience and a willingness to fail in order to get better.

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My very first 3D print – a cobblestone base.  Start small in order to test and tweak settings.

There are plenty of great articles and resources out there on the internet for those wanting to get involved for the first time, so the purpose of this article is not to present a detailed guide to getting started, but to offer some advice and share my experiences so far as a tabletop gaming hobbyist trying to get into this new and exciting technology.

My main takeaways from about a month of 3D printing for tabletop gaming so far are as follows:

  • Don’t expect miracles (be patient and take stock) – prints will fail and in some cases may not turn out exactly as you planned, but bear in mind just what we are now able to achieve in our own homes!
  • Expect to do more work after the print is finished – you are not going to get a tabletop ready model straight off the printer.  Some clean-up will be required (but then that’s half the fun of being a hobbyist isn’t it?)
  • It takes a long time – prints can take hours or even days – again, however just consider what we are now able to do in our own front rooms!
  • Little things can make a big difference, be that ‘bed leveling’, temperature settings or the type and make of filament you are using.
  • Get a buddy or a guru if you can – I’ve been very lucky to get some great support off a fellow 3D printing gamer via Facebook.  Ask questions on forums and social media, watch YouTube videos, read articles, but accept that everyone’s’ experiences and setup can very.
  • Get on Thingiverse and have a browse!  Can’t recommend this site enough for free model files.
  • In order to process 3D print files (STL) for you printer you will need some ‘slicing’ software.  Find some software you like and can get on with.  For me Cura has proven ideal, is widely used in the community, is relatively easy to use and has some good features.

So as I say this isn’t a detailed ‘how to’ guide, but I hope it offers some perspective on what to me is a fascinating new aspect to the tabletop hobby.

I’ll be doing plenty of articles moving forward on taking my 3D prints to the tabletop, so stay tuned.  You can see some of my efforts so far below: