Saturday, 27 October 2018


3D printing is here to stay and is making increasing inroads on the sculpture and modelling world. If you can master RHINO or SKETCHUP or another 3D CAD package then the world may be your 3D printed oyster.....
D3 printing solve your modelling problems can it do not
Issues of quality have now been largely solved. Some beautiful things can be produced with 3D printers in various materials.I have used SHAPEWAYS to make some 'safe' flexible plastic javelin heads and they are great.
Available HERE - you get two heads

SHAPEWAYS is one way to overcome the outlay on a 3D printer. They are still not cheap if you want a good one. Another argument against buying your own is the time, noise and temperature required.

Printing things takes time when using a fine strand of medium to build up the model. Hours are needed for even small things. The machines are not silent by any means and trying to sleep with a 3D printer chugging in the next room is difficult! A friend had to move his to the garage at his wife's insistence! (her or machine, he chose to move the machine bed for her in the garage was too expensive).  Another factor is that the medium must be kept at a specific temperature range and this may involve insulating the printing pad or the room...

etc. etc.

SHAPEWAYS idea is that you send the file, they print it , you get the thing. Great !  They offer a great range of different materials from ceramic to plastics to steel !!!!! Once you set up your page there you can also sell to th epublic if they want a copy of what you have modelled.

There are galley models available on SHAPEWAYS. They look very nice. They are not so accurate representations of any ancient prototype but they prove it could be done. Relatively simple models should be easy and look very nice at various scales. Search for galleys or modern warships and you can find some nice looking stuff.
See at shapeways HERE

The big downside with SHAPEWAYS is the price. Economies of scale have not kicked-in yet. My javelin heads were so expensive I could not sell them. The model above is 26 Euro for a 6cm long model. Ancient galley battles require a lot of models...

The best function for SHAPEWAYS just now is for prototyping. Make your original and cast it in resin or lead.

The future is beckoning, though. Many times we can see CAD images used in advertising for miniature figurines rather than real figures. Look at Zvezda who use a lot of tech versus Streltsi who do not.
What the actual model looks like is another question...
 Soon the quality of 3D printing may approach a true copy of the CAD images.  The skills of the physical sculptor will vanish like the galleys we love.


  1. Shapeways is very expensive. One of the local club members purchased a 3d printer for about $300US. He has been kind enough to print items for us at cost. Thanks to him I now have a fleet of over 600 galleys of various sizes in 1:1200 scale.

  2. An additional comment on products from Shapeways. Depending on the abilities of the sculptor the products can be quite detailed. I have some 1:285 scale Leopard2 Revolution models that I purchased from Shapeways that have better detail than the models from GHQ. GHQ makes a Leopard2A6CAN model with slats on the rear of the turret. There is no separation between the slats and the turret. On the Shapeways print there is a space between the slats and the turret. However, if GHQ did make a Leopard2 Revolution model I would have purchased it from them even though the detail would not have been as good as the Shapeways one. The other problem with 3d printing is the time it takes to print items compared to casting them along with any maintenance and repairs to the printer.

  3. Good points. I think the process is still best for prototyping. Sculpting - or CAD drawing for 3d printing requires some rules are followed to allow printing and this isoften tricky for geometry ofsmall details even if the resolution is possible. Goodness knows wha awaits in a few years, though !