About a Year of 3D Printing

Resin Printing

Last November, I picked up an Anycubic Photon S on Black Friday sale. I don’t think I’d have been able to do so without Scott S. and Tim P. talking through how the whole mess works, because it’s pretty intimidating and, at the time, I don’t think there was a lot of easily digestible information about it. Certainly poking around social media, all I could find (really: all) was “Photon” vs. “Fauxton” noise.

Certainly, I expected to be running it 24×7, but I’ll admit that I actually don’t print with it all that much. Broadly, I find it to be a pain in the ass.

The smell is the biggest hassle. Printing that test cube almost had us evacuate the house. It smells like death. I went through a whole thing of building a chamber with ventilation out a window to manage this, but that introduced a whole other problem arising from having a window open (and blocked with plywood) while it’s hot outside, or cold outside, or when we’re not home…

Ultimately, I followed some guy’s advice on YouTube and unplugged the fan that (inexplicably) vents from the print chamber into the electronics chamber. (The turkey actually advised snipping the power cables but I opted to just, like, unplug them.) Between that and just closing the cabinet has made the smell manageable to the point that I don’t want to sit next to it while it’s printing but otherwise it doesn’t fee like it’s trying to kill us.

The other huge hassle is prep. I hate supporting models. I hate it more than anything… except having print failures. Nowadays it feels like every Patreon is presupporting their STLs, which is fantastic, because I hate having to do that but feel compelled to do it. It is frequently an obstacle to printing. For example, I have some AI-scaled Remora Drones I’d like to print but supporting them is such a drag I just can’t.

Mind you, I’ve printed a fair amount of stuff. I justified the purchase with a Warmaster army: “I could buy a Warmaster Skaven army,” I told myself, “or a printer and print one for less.”

So I did that. And printed a Wood Elf army, and a couple of BFG fleets. None of this is painted, however. I have printed some stuff and gone on to paint it (though it feels like the exception to the rule), like some Titanicus weapons and those Wolf Rats for my Saga Skaven.

Anyway, I have a love/hate relationship with resin printing: I actually just hate it but I love being able to fall back on it when there’s something I need to print.

FDM Printing

In February, I ordered a Prusa i3 MK3S. I did this mostly because I’d bought some PrintableScenery STLs to scale down for Warmaster and caught the terrain bug.

This was perfect timing, as it showed up and I had time to assemble it and start working with it when the pandemic shutdown hit maybe 2 weeks later. Being able to fiddle with the thing has been a very effective coping mechanism for me.

Unlike the resin printing, though: this printer has been running pretty much non-stop: I’ve printed up a dense amount of terrain for Titanicus, the tiles for Blackstone Fortress, walls for Necromunda, and a fair amount of tudor/fantasy terrain and space habitat terrain.

There’s zero hassle to it, really: just slice the thing, hit print and wait. (I guess there’s one hassle: it’s slow.)

I’ve also had a really great time designing stuff to print with the FDM: stackable Infinity silhouette markers, card trays and organizers. Right now, I’m printing out some stackable card organizers for Warcry. (Everything I think I might be OK to share gets put up on Thingiverse.

I really enjoy working the FDM. If it weren’t logistically and financially impractical, I could definitely see myself picking up a second one so I could run terrain pieces (at <= .1mm layers) for days on one while noodling around with stuff on the other.

Either way: resin or FDM it has been incredibly liberating to be able to just print weird stuff when I realize I need it.