I've received many requests from friends to print things and every time I said something along the lines of "I'm sure it's doable, let me look into it". Well, I have and though I can technically say that everything everyone asked is possible, there are some expectations I should put forward.
So I've been writing this guide, and it went from a small page to an insanely big wall of text. This is actually the SHORT version of the big one. I'm skipping on many things, like how it's possible to print stuff that is flexible or that some projects require special hardware to work with.
And so this is what I propose, and I say this as a board gamer to another: If you would rather have someone else do the prints, then like I said, I'll see what I can do for you. It would be a pleasure to help out a fellow board gamer. Please buckle down and read what follows carefully.
However, as a board gamer, seeing the level people have shown for requests or ideas of things they would like to see, you may want to look into getting one of these for yourself.
This is not me brushing you off. Again, for the third time, I will take your requests if they are feasible. I'm saying that if you are remotely like me, you will be getting more than your money's worth out of having your own board game upgrading machine. I think the Ender 3's price is highly comparable to the money we have often sunk into one game and all of its trimmings. You can already start printing really good stuff with a stock version of this machine and I myself have only added about fifty dollars worth of upgrades to it. I'm comfortable with it enough now that I am in fact seeking to buy a second one and maybe a third one down the line. Don't take this from me though. Have a look at one of the videos that have won me over.
In fact, I think that having a small group of friends who print board game upgrades could yield some interesting benefits, but I don't want to sound like I'm manipulating people down a path for my own gain. The one fair warning I would give people is this: this hobby can be a serious pain in the ass. I'm definitely not a "machine guy" so I had a steep learning curve before I got comfortable with it, but I'm absolutely glad that I went into the ring.
Let the guide begin:
What I can do:
Print object files you provide
Anything that fits within 230mm by 230mm by 250mm
Anything bigger than the above can be printed in multiple parts IF the designer accounted for it.
Scale stuff up and down.
Print finely detailed models and minis (usually)
What I can’t do:
Mass produce (big orders)
Design something custom
Provide specific colours
Print an object with multiple colours
Where can I get stuff to print?
What’s the stuff you print with?
I use PLA filament
It is the most common 3D printing material
It is eco-friendly
It makes hard non-flexible plastic like your keyboard and mouse.
It comes in many different colours and forms
Glow in the dark
Wood (can be sanded and stained)
It typically sold in reels of 1 kilo
The price of a reel is about 20$ to 25$
Price varies on quality and complexity of the PLA.
How long does it take to do? How much stuff do you need for prints?
The two factor which drives up a print time is both volume and detail.
The material is quite cheap
1 Terraforming Mars playboard inlay is almost 6 hours and uses 1$ worth of PLA
1 highly detailed Terraforming Mars tile ranges from 2 to 4 hours and uses about 0.10$ worth of PLA
1 highly detailed mini (28mm) is about 3 hours. About 8 cents worth of PLA
Most simple projects like a small token box are about 2 hours. Prices vary on the size but it tends to be cheap.
I’ve had projects that lasted 12 hours.
I’ve seen projects that go on for days.
I get to start one to two jobs per day. It does not matter how big or small the project is, the problem is that I must align my free time with the end of a project. Failed prints often involve calibration and further test prints before I can start printing again.
I’ve been asked by more than one person about printing something of a specific color. Unfortunately, there is not much I can do in this department unless you provide the filament, and I don't think that is fair either. Filament comes in bulk quantities and in various qualities. Imagine if you had to buy a reel and only use 2% of it. What do we do with the rest?
I hope you understand that I would very much like to avoid having to manage and store reels from different owners (also, reels absorb humidity, so there are special considerations to take into account). It also sets a precedent that I “owe” prints from now on and like I said, I cannot mass produce nor can I handle that many requests. I’m also putting this printer through the ringer so who knows when it will break down for good. Will I still owe filament to people? If you do provide the reel, you can either take it back or you can donate the remaining material for printing compensation. The choice is yours.
Personally speaking, I intend to keep printing requests as a favour to a friend, not management, nor should there be a running bill. I want to bake cookies for my friends. Cookies which are actually plastic, but you get the idea.
Finally, let’s talk compensation.
The odd print job is no bother and if you can handle the colours I have, chances are it will be fine. If you want something more serious, more specific, riskier or within a certain time frame, I will end up dedicating resources to it, which is a different matter. I will take into consideration time and material, all the while trying to do my best to be very competitive to anything that is on the market and come up with the equivalent of an "at cost" amount.
If you still want your projects to be done, let me know.