Wednesday, June 6, 2012

3D Printing: An Opportunity For Us

BoLS is all a-flutter today over something that I've been predicting for some time. Which is that 3D Printing will soon be cheap enough to jeopardize the traditional miniature manufacturing model. But the good news is, it's also an opportunity for us. Since we don't have a huge manufacturing and distribution arm to protect, we can embrace this change instead of fighting it.

Since we're a rules-first project, this won't have any immediate impact on what we do. But over time we'll undoubtedly find that proper rules balance will require certain units that nobody makes a good model for. We'll also have original special characters that won't always have an appropriate model available. Particularly when we get to the Colser.

When we finally publish complete rules one day, it will also be useful for us to have our own model designs for units. That way we can show illustrations of game situations in our rules without disclaimers everywhere about which model came from where. So there's two ways to go with that. We can partner up with 1 or more manufacturers like Chapterhouse to provide models. And/Or we can sculpt our own sub-set of minis and offer them for sale. This is where 3D printing provides us with an opportunity.

Traditionally, manufacturing models would mean paying for plastic/resin molds, scheduling manufacturing runs with a large plastics manufacturer, assembly, warehousing models in boxes, etc. But that's where 3D printing comes in. There are already companies like Shapeways that we can upload designs to and let them manufacture the minis for us. They then ship the models and take a cut of the selling price. It's similar to the model of the iOS/Mac App Store. Except for digitally sculpting the models, it's zero-cost for us.


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