Monday, 23 January 2012

Defensive Walls & 3D Printing

Time for an update on the defensive walls I had 3D printed - for a recap of how this started have a look at this post.

If you don't have the time to read that the models I had printed looked like this...

Corner piece on the left and straight section on the right
(which is pretty obvious so i'm not sure why I am telling you)
So the 3D prints arrived, turned out to be a quicker turn around than I expected.

I went with two different materials to see what the difference was.

The 3D Prints:

The straight section used the bog standard, run of the mill cheapest material ('White, Strong & Flexible') while for the corner piece I went with a more expensive material (Alumide) though the difference between the costs wasn't huge, but if you were doing many prints or large pieces the cost would be noticeable so it was worth investigating both materials.

There isn't a huge difference between the two pieces. The surface texture seems to be the same on both, there is no noticeable difference. However the more expensive material does have sharper detail especially on the top. The detail on the straight section is definately less defined, the straight section also has slight 'sagging' along the top face. I think as the material has cooled it fell slightly (like a cake?), it is very, very minor, maybe a .25mm and probably wouldn't be noticed if you weren't giving the pieces a good look over.

I gave the two pieces an undercoat, partly to make it easier to compare the pieces and also to help with the moulding process as the WSF isn't great for moulding due to being slightly porous, but with the undercoat I hoped this would be overcome.

Coat of Helfords grey prior to doing the moulds.

Playing with Rubber.

So some rubber was poured and after 24 hours I had a mould of the pieces and I set about making some casts.

I bought a big bag of plaster for the casting as it is a lot cheaper than resin. I was uncertain how it would deal with the detail however but at only about 15 quid for 5kg including postage it was worth investigating.

Cast One - Complete Balls Up - got the mix wrong (should of read the instructions better...)


Cast Two - Much better, but still not great. In hindsight I would of done the mould different as I did it with the mindframe of a resin cast.

Getting Better.

Cast Three - thought I would do a cast using resin as a comparison to the plaster versions. Detail is definately sharper. The detail on the top for example is more defined.

In hindsight I probably wouldn't of done the top detail as it is just a bit too fine for the materials used and for the casting, the plaster especially struggles with it.

Moving forward I will be doing some more casts in plaster to try different things out, such as different water/powder mixes.

I think I will order some more casts as well to try out more materials. Basically the money from the Looted Wagons I sold are being put into this with the aim of getting things right before doing anything bigger or more ambitious.

The surface texture issue is fine on these as they are meant to be concrete so the rough surface works. For other things, such as tank pieces or detail pieces I will need something better - hence needing more material experiments.

Expect an update sometime in the near future...

...btw, i've not done anything with the backpack yet so don't ask...


  1. Plaster has, I'm sorry to say, zero use in wargaming stuff. The closest that's usable is hydrocal/hydrastone, which is incredibly strong and takes a fair amount of force to break.

    I'd suggest you go with resin for those, but buy a bag of filler powder to mix in with it to get more mileage for your money.

    From what I can tell, most 3d printer stuff needs light sanding to give it that smooth finish, it comes down to the fact that everything like that uses gears and can't work in dimensions the same way a human can (ie fluidly).

    Give the Polyjet Blue type technique a try for your next go, it should yield you better results.

    1. I want to use plaster for a couple of reasons, 1. the cost but 2. becuase it is softer and easy to carve. I plan on adding battle damage etc into the walls which in resin will be a huge job using a dremel. In plaster I can quickly carve into the walls with a knife. Similarly I plan on casting 'rebar' into some of the walls, then carving back the plaster to expose it. Something in resin which would be a huge ballache. I have used plaster for a couple of other things and they have withstood gaming fine without a problem, plus at the cost per piece if a few do get damaged it is simple and cheap enough to replace them.

      I didn't give these a sanding as I actually wanted the rougher texture for concrete. However for small pieces it is impractical to sand so I am definatley after something which can do finer detail and a smooth finish for those pieces. The rough texture basically due to the pieces being built up in layers.

      I've not heard of Polyjet Blue, i'll investigate before doing any more prints, cheers.

  2. I like the texturing this brings out - very reminiscent of concrete.

    The extra detail probably isn't necessary if you plan on building up an earthen bank around the outside of the gun pit - or were you planning to have this as a stand alone piece atop the ground rather than dug in?

    1. These are going to be stand alone pieces which can be arranged for each game as a defensive wall - basically replacing the plastic walls GW do and which I currently use. The detail that isn't great is that on top - I added the fixings plates which eye hooks would be attached to for lifting the walls pieces into place.

  3. This is a great experiment. you will be receiving orders shortly no doubt!

  4. Cheers for the comments everyone.

    I'll be playing around a bit more with the moulds and casts to see what other results I get.

  5. Some amazing results there, and I have to admit, I'm jealous of your dive into the 3D Printing world, even for master blanks for molding. I can't wait to see more on this ongoing project!

  6. Really cool stuff, Rictus - I'm loving seeing how the casting is turning out, and it's pretty neat to see what the 3D printing offers to the hobby. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how it all comes together!

  7. Cheers very much. See the latest post for more...


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