Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rapid Prototyping goodies.

I've been working with 3D modeling programs for 7 or 8 years now. I started when my gaming group decided to publish the Space combat game  A Sky Full of Ships. I did the cover and some CG art inside. Ialso 3D rendered the ship counters in hte back of the book.  While these were not fantastic models, they were pretty good for what we had access to, and I had only been using the program for a month before creating them.

I worked a lot over the intervention years on my own background with my Best Friend, Mike Hoyt(son of Dave Hoyt). I created CG models for my 2 main races, and I started working on Mike's Terran fleet as well.  I always wanted to have models of my ships, but Rapid prototyping was in it';s infancy and was way to expensive. I also did not have the necessary skills to do them justice.

We lost interest in it for a few years, then this company, Shapeways started popping up on forums i frequented.   they are a sort of "print on Demand" for  3D modelers. ist started gatehring quite a following. Str Rangers Starship combat forum now has a " Print on Demand" forum in their miniatures section.

At Christmas, when i was building  The Laffly S20 French truck, I figured i wanted to sculpt the tires in Light wave 3D.  So i pulled out the software and reinstalled it.  I also went looking for a plug-in to export the file in the appropriate format(in this case, .stl)  I found it and it worked.   So i started modifying my existing starship models i had to be printed.  i finally ordered some stuff a few weeks ago, na it arrived today.

THe company only ships UPS, and is located in Europe.  that usually means you get outrageous UPS brokerage and COD fees at teh door. this time, on an order of $32.37 CDN(shipping included), the UPS COD charge was only $3.99. that's surprising to me, i usually expect 20-35% of the value.

Anyways, i got 2 Londarian Heavy Cruisers, 1 Falchion Strike Carrier, and the 20 wheels(of 2 types) for my Laffly truck. I grabbed the ships in the " White, Strong, Flexible" material and the truck wheels in the "white detail" material.  the "white, strong, flexible" material has a bit of a gritty texture to the surface, and you can see feint lines where the layers were cured.  the white detail on the other hand has a nice smooth surface and very crisp detail!  the pictures don't do the wheels justice.

So, now i can continue on my Laffly truck!


  1. Stephen,

    I'm not sure I'm following your posting properly. Can you flick me a link which explains this copying process? Your stuff looks very detailed. If I'm following you, this stuff is printed off some sort of copier? Thanks.

  2. the printers in question( Shapeways Operates Objet Brand 3D printers) are actually based on Inkjet Technology. They lay down a layer of semi-liquid plastic and then cure it with lasers, and the goes back and repeats the process in as many layers as are neccessary to create the product. It runs off of 3D CAD or Stereo Lithography(.stl) file formats.

    Check hopefully they will have more info. also check out