Kim from Kreative Scenery recently picked up an Anet A8 3D printer from GearBest.com and was getting very good results from it while printing 15mm terrain. At around $200 NZD the Anet A8 is a steal, so I ordered one as well. That’s my Anet A8 in the photo, assembled a couple of weeks ago, and with various printed parts added to the stock kit.
As a change from browsing Thingiverse for parts to print, I’ve also been learning to use Autodesk Fusion 360 to create original designs. Amongst the CAD and 3D modelling programs I’ve tried in the past I think Fusion 360 is by far the most powerful, and intuitive. Something about the way the project timeline and the browser feature work make it an ideal tool. I think it may be because the UI feels like an IDE such as Visual Studio. I also find the way you sketch things in different planes and then render them into 3D objects using a variety of simple extrusion operations really clicks with me.
My first completed, original design is a pair of simple frames that can be combined with cheap corrugated plastic-card into an almost instant 28mm scale shipping container. One frame holds a set of closed doors, and the other is a simple holder for an additional piece of plastic-card. I designed this because I want to build a post apocalyptic factory table for This is Not a Test. These frames were also easy to create in Fusion 360 and print reasonably quickly – so I won’t bother casting or molding them. Plus 3D printing allows you to use undercuts and back cuts that one sided molding won’t allow. For example the frames have a 1mm trench on the back that the plastic-card slots into for gluing.
Here’s the container quickly dry fitted, and next to an earlier container I laboriously built by hand around a kid’s wooden block. Mr Zippo is for scale. The painted container is one of a set of three I spent something like a week of hobby time building and painting. Thanks to the 3D printed parts I cranked out three more assembled containers in an evening this week, and they’re already more detailed and better looking than my hand made effort. I glue them together and then add a little more 3mm plastic trim around the edges for reinforcing. If you ignore the printing time, they take about 10 minutes to assemble and finish. The other advantage of just using the frames is I can vary the container length simply by using different lengths of plastic card. They’re pretty stable out to a 10-12″ long container. Being little more than hollow plastic boxes they’re ridiculously light weight so stack very nicely. The frames are designed with 2mm holes in the top and bottom, so could be joined together with plastic rod or pill magnets.
I plan to vary my original design to create an empty frame and a pair of free standing doors that will slot into holes, like a Lego door. That’ll give me the ability to model some open containers as well. I also plan to create an alternate end to represent a ‘reefer’ or refrigerated container. I’m then going to print and assemble around another ten containers and call that done. They’ll probably get bulk painted with a couple of cheap spray cans.
Even with this simple project I can see an almost endless possibly of custom war gaming terrain opening up. The only thing holding me back is finding time to design and print everything I want!