This past weekend, we had a 3D printing workshop at LVL1. I built a Mendel Prusa i2, along with 9 other folks in the LVL1 community. Sonny Mounicou came up from Memphis, TN, while Jon Oly of SeeMeCNC came down from Goshen, IN to help us build 3D printers. One guy had his printer up and running in a mere 14 hours! I had to get some sleep, so I was a little bit behind that.
Needless to say, everyone had a great time, and walked out with some working 3D printers. I’ve since gotten my Prusa home and had some time to play with it.
I’ve already got plans to make it better. Tonight, I’m going to redo all the wiring to make it nicer, more reliable, and better looking. Next, I intend to scrounge a server power supply out of the basement of LVL1. Currently, it’s attached to a 200W Dell Power supply, which can only push out 200W. This is fine for most things, but it just can’t put our the juice needed for heating the build platform to ABS temperatures. I was able to get some calibration cubes of ABS to stick to the build platform, but nothing bigger. After that, sky’s the limit. I’m also going to use this printer to print parts for another 3D printer, a Rostock.
Unfortunately, I’ll be missing the Midwest RepRap Fest this weekend, but I’ll be there in spirit!
I’m not dead. I switched jobs back in September, and it’s seemed like an impossible task to catch up to everything until now. But I’m working on some cool stuff!
For example, I’m building a 3D printer:
This is the start to my Rostock 3D printer. I started printing the parts for this way back in October, and I’ve just now gotten to the point where it’s starting to come together. Unfortunately, a much better version has come out in the mean time. A couple of people have already come through LVL1 building the improved, extruded aluminum delta bot. It was almost enough to make me start over and try again, but not this time! I’ve tried to build three other printers in the past, but they never got further than printing some plastic parts. This time, I’ve spent real money on the project, so I’m going to forge ahead!
So far, I’ve run into two major setbacks. The first: the printed arms an u-joints are really, really terrible. Threading an M3 bolt into the U-joint as instructed is painfully difficult, and the result isn’t particularly smooth motion. I’m going to have to buy a set of real rods before I can continue. Second, the specced GT2 belting and pulleys were completely unavailable in the lengths I needed, so I had to switch to HTD 3M belting and pulleys. It was expensive! The company I bought the stuff through charged me $15 for shipping, on top of $35 for the belt. Then I cut the belting wrong, so I have to buy even more!
I’ll be using a Printrboard Rev. D to drive the whole thing, unless it blows up in my face. Then I’ll probably just buy a nice reliable RAMPs setup, or a fully assembled printrboard. And then, I’ll be off to the races!
This year, I had the good fortune to visit GenCon after a 2 year hiatus. Not much has changed, although I was surprised at the number of KickStarted projects on the show floor. There were a lot of really interesting independently funded games, including a few print-and-play games. Print-and-play has been around forever, but with the advent of the MakerBot, and the rising popularity of 3D printing, both at home and for contract, I am surprised at the lack of 3D-print-and-play games.
Maybe I’m biased, since I have nearly unfettered access to a 3D printer through the LVL1 hackerspace, but I strongly believe that this technology is our future. In ten years, I truly think that everyone reading this article will have trivially easy access to a 3D printer, if they do not already have this access. It astounds me that gamers haven’t adopted this technology in droves. The maker crowd and the gamer crowd have a huge amount of overlap, so what gives? Why aren’t there more 3D printable games?
Sure, there are a few examples of printable games on thingiverse, but most of these are clones of other games. Not only is this a legal and moral gray area (at best), but it’s boring and unimaginative. Pocket Tactics is the best example of a printable game that I can find, and it’s a game in its infancy, at best (but serious props to these guys!). There just aren’t a lot of 3D printable games. Why? The technology seems like a perfect match for the gaming community! Everybody loves to invent and modify and tweak rules systems, and printable games make it simple to create your own game universe without relying on game pieces stolen from other games, or figuring out how to do injection molding in your garage. The world of indy game publishing should be eating this up, since a small team can rapidly iterate on a game design, complete with unique tokens and artwork. Wargamers especially should rejoice! The huge barrier to entry for games like 40k is the cost of outfitting an army, and 3D printed parts are pennies on the dollar compared to ordinary wargaming miniatures. A 3D printed wargame should be a no-brainer.
There are event successful business models that a prospective game maker could take advantage of. There are already indy tabletop games releasing game guides and modules as for-profit eBooks. 3D printed games could use the same model, selling the rules and models in digitally distributed packages. A game designer could give away the rules, and sell the models, or sell the rules and give away the models. This sort of distribution makes it possible to give away a starter set of models, along with the rules in order to get people hooked. Game designers could even adopt a “value-added” model, bootstrapping with 3D printed game parts, and selling nicer injection-molded parts later.
So, why aren’t there many 3D-print-and-play games? Any ideas? I, for one, would very quickly purchase any compelling 3D printable game that came across my desk, as long as it wasn’t a clone of something else. In fact, I’m printing out pocket tactics right now.