Category Archives: Geek

Going to AdeptiCon this week? Come say Hi!

Shapeways may be an online platform, but we love to go out and meet our Community in person. For those of you who are into wargaming and scale miniatures, Shapeways will be in Schaumburg, Illinois (just outside Chicago) for AdeptiCon from March 23 to 26. AdeptiCon is an annual tabletop gaming convention with tournaments, workshops, and cosplay, all around popular games. If you’re lucky enough to attend, come check out 3D printed products by Pop Goes the Monkey, and create your own Hero Forge minis.

We’ve been busy crafting and getting ready all weekend. Check out the terrain and cosplay armor we made, below:

   

Can you guess what our cosplay is? Leave your guesses below, and keep up with our Instagram this weekend to find out!

Project Spotlight: H.E.A.D Hunters

PAX East is a great place to go and see up-and-coming game designers creating innovative products, and it’s no surprise that they’re using Shapeways to prototype their creations. We caught up with James Campbell of Gut Shot Games to talk about his new designer-toy/wargaming combo. Make sure to keep an eye out for his Kickstarter, launching May 23rd.

H.E.A.D Hunters at PAX East


Where did the concept for H.E.A.D Hunters come from?

I had the original concept for what would become H.E.A.D. Hunters way back in 2007. Inspired by a recent boom in connected plush toys and the growing popularity of designer toys, I challenged myself to think of new ways to get people playing with their toys instead of watching them collect dust.

In 2007, rapid prototyping was not as accessible as it is today, so the slightest changes to a design had significant costs in both time and money. Because of this and the accurate feedback from major toy companies that the initial game I designed was not very good, the idea was put on the shelf until the spring of 2015. At the time, I was living in China with my family and with limited TV viewing options, we often turned to tabletop games for entertainment. This newfound love for tabletop games inspired me to pull the project off the shelf and partner with game-design veterans Ben Cichoski and Danny Mandel to get H.E.A.D. Hunters where we are today, just a few weeks away from launching our Kickstarter campaign.

How did you create your (awesome) toys and game components?

When I originally had the idea to create a toy that would hold tabletop game components in its head, I had zero experience with 3D software.  At the time, I was lucky enough to find a patient CAD engineer who was able to help me turn my rough sketches into the initial toy designs (image below), and even get me started on learning 3D software on my own.

Since then, my ZBrush skills have certainly improved, but I still felt more comfortable working with a more seasoned toy designer on what would be two major revisions before landing on our current design. Each revision would output an STL file that was the result of dozens of hours of Skype calls and email exchanges. Shapeways allowed us to turn that STL file into something physical we would use in our playtesting.

Once we landed on a final toy platform, we were able to take the prototype with us as we met with toy manufacturers to discuss our manufacturing needs. Once we narrowed down our search, we commissioned them to do painted prototypes to ensure they could match the style we were looking for.

 

How does 3D printing help indie game designers like Gut Shot Games move through iterations to a final product?

How components work together with game mechanics is crucial to the game design process and ultimately the end product. What would seem to be a simple element, like the battle platforms our toys stand on, would actually take four different rounds of prototypes before we had something that would meet all our needs. This process of iteration can raise issues you may have overlooked, such as stability in our initial platform design, and provide potential hidden benefits, such as improved transparency into our current design.

Current H.E.A.D. Hunters with prototype weapons in Shapeways white Strong & Flexible nylon plastic

What do you plan to 3D print next?

Tools of the trade are important in any profession, especially for hunters! As such, we are currently finishing up designs for weapons for all 10 of our H.E.A.D. Hunters. To ensure each weapon complements its owner’s style and personality, we will be turning to Shapeways as we model, print and continue to fine-tune these designs over the coming weeks.

We Cosplayed at PAX East

Last weekend, Community Manager Andrew Thomas and I were in Boston, Massachusetts for PAX East 2017, the festival that’s all about gaming. It was an amazing opportunity to check out the latest and greatest in video games, tabletop, and overall hot tech trends.

I went full cosplay

To give you an idea of the scene, there were tens of thousands of people in the Boston Convention Center, dozens of panels (ranging from how-to video game creation to tips on creating the best D&D campaigns), cosplayers galore – even the signage was in character:

PAX rules

Getting pixeled

We checked out a bunch of tabletop games and booths of designers who use Shapeways for prototyping. It was pretty incredible seeing how Shapeways enabled these designers to bring their tabletop games to life, letting them physically conceptualize the games before moving toward mass production. We spent some time in particular with the Dragoon and H.E.A.D. Hunters teams — stay tuned for interviews with both.

H.E.A.D Hunters

While Andrew and I are no strangers to cosplay (trust me, just click the link), this time, I wanted to wear something that really showed the magic of 3D printing. In my quest, my knight in shining armor was Lumecluster’s Melissa Ng, who let me borrow eight pieces of her Sovereign Armor. This was enough that I could mix and match the parts to create different looks, all easy to travel with. Thanks to Melissa I, got to cosplay like the best of them (and I did – check out my dance with the Yip Yip aliens).

muppet cosplay time with @ladybuglise #paxeast #pax #paxeast2017

A post shared by shapeways (@shapeways) on

On the subject of dressing to impress, Andrew and I ran into some cosplayers we’d met at 2016’s New York Comic Con. Among the friendly faces was Thomas DePetrillo of Extreme Costumes, wearing his Reinhardt cosplay from Blizzard’s Overwatch. We met Tom at Kotaku/iO9’s Cosplay Ball last year (where we scanned him). We learned some amazing things about the Reinhardt costume:

  • It measures 9’6” / 2.89m and weighs 85 pounds / 38.55 kgs.
  • It took three people working nine weeks to create it.
  • The original costume was seven feet tall, but it’s since been rebuilt four times.
  • The only parts that remain of the original are the top part of the skeleton, the upper half of the external chest, the hammer, and the feet.

Tom DePetrillo’s Reinhardt cosplay

We met another member of Tom’s Extreme Costumes team, Nick (of Squiby Props fame), and he joined us for a Facebook Live, where he shared how he used 3D printing for his Ornstein from Dark Souls cosplay. He 3D printed his mask by himself, which took a whopping 200 hours.

Nick’s Ornstein cosplay

Andrew was also interviewed during a Facebook Live with GeekMom’s Karen Walsh, who was covering PAX East. She even shouted out Shapeways as one of her favorite things at the convention!

There were so many things to see and do, we could never have done it all, but we met some amazing cosplayers— many using 3D printing in ways that blew our minds. Let us know in the comments if you use 3D printing to bring your cosplay to life.

On the floor at PAX East — until next year, Boston!

 

Shapeways Takes Genericon 30 by Storm

Over the weekend, we attended Genericon XXX, hosted by students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, for 48 hours straight of cosplay, anime, sci-fi and gaming. It was an amazing weekend. Just a few of the highlights were:

Our crew!

Left to right, me, Dhemerae and Sarah of TheLaserGirls (decked out in 3D printed cosplay), and Ian of Nvenom8 Designs.

Genericon, Cosplay

The vender area of the con — so much cool merch and swag!

Our panel discussion on 3D printing was on the Main Events Stage, so exciting!

Sarah tells the audience why she likes ZBrush during our panel on 3D printing:

Over the weekend, TheLaserGirls also took over the Shapeways Instagram account and took  #Genericon by storm:

Admins by day, superheroes by night🔥💪🤜👊☄️🏋️🖖🤘@shapeways #3dprinting #cosplay #genericon #golaser

A post shared by Sarah C Awad and Dhemerae Ford (@thelasergirls) on

 

Taking a break to do some old-school roleplaying with Pathfinders. Here, our party is about to get ambushed by a Giant Scorpion.

We had a great time playing games, checking out the cosplay, and talking about 3D printing!

Whether You’re a DM or GM, You Need This…

Saturday, March 4 is International GMs’ day, when we celebrate the game masters, dungeon masters, referees, and storytellers. Of course, a dungeon or game master is nothing without her dice. One roll can make or break a game, deciding whether a character defeats a dragon or gets roasted to cinders by it. You can’t trust these matters of fate to just any dice. You need a set with character.

Die1

1. For the prickliest of GMs, we recommend the Thorn Dice Set by CeramicWombat. Though they look sharp, the maker says they won’t scratch tables.

Twined Dice Set by Tiny Tokens

2. The ‘Twined’ Dice Gaming Die Set in steel by Tiny Tokens has been crafted to ensure that each die is “fair and well-balanced” for unbiased throws.

Die3

3. For those who prefer a lighter-weight die, Figurebang D20 Bone Dice are made “from the littlest finger bones of only the luckiest elven children.” Well, not really, actually they are 3D printed in white plastic with a smooth white finish, ready for hand painting if you prefer.

With dice like these, you’re practically guaranteed to come out the victor. Want to see more? Check out dice crafted by makers from all over the world.

Click to Roll The Dice for More

The Week in 3D Printing

This week, we learned what it will take to 3D print homes for humans on distant planets, how 3D modeling of your head and face can give you new hair — or just perfectly fitted sunglasses — plus, we found out how to turn used analog sound equipment into smartphone-connected wizardry.

Printing a New World

This is not a 3D printer, but one day, it will have 3D printer friends

This is not a 3D printer, but one day, it will have 3D printer friends

Pioneering USC engineer Behrokh Khoshnevis told NBC how he’s working with NASA to use found materials on Mars to create 3D printed homes, machines, infrastructure… basically anything humans need to choose that Martian lifestyle. That means technologies like 3D-printing method Contour Crafting (CC), which Khoshnevis used to print a 2,500-square-foot building in less than a day — back in 2004. Our post-Earth future is looking up. Now, if we can just figure out how to get to TRAPPIST-1.

Trump Should Check This Out

ABC brought us the touching story of a woman whose upcoming wedding compelled her to address her thinning hair. Thankfully, a high-tech hairpiece created using 3D printing saved the wedding day. The result is so realistic, our hairdo-in-chief should probably know about this (please, someone tell him).

It's definitely more realistic than this

It’s definitely more realistic than this

Sunglasses, Sports, Mullets

In the search for the perfect-looking pair of sunglasses, it’s often impossible to find a pair that actually, literally fit your face. Not “too big or too small for my face shape” but rather “don’t dig into my cheeks, fall off easily, or squeeze my head oddly.” Guess what can help? 3D printing! Skelmet (they originally planned to make bike helmets) takes scans of your head and face and creates custom frames to your specific measurements, as TechCrunch reported. However, as they also noted, these frames are strictly sporty, so you’ll either end up looking like Lance Armstrong or Dog the Bounty Hunter, depending on your hair length.

Skelmet's scanning-for-sunglasses app in use

Skelmet’s scanning-for-sunglasses app in use

Pump Up the Jams

Geeky Gadgets got a little less geeky this week when they pulled a DJ move, showing us how to mix vintage knobs and switches,  3D printed parts, and an Arduino to create a smart MIDI controller. Recycled, digitized, and made with 3D printing? Pump it up.

Screenshot 2017-02-25 10.43.25

The MIDI controller of your 3D printed dreams

 

 

Meet Two Women Changing the Face of Cosplay

TheLaserGirls (Sarah C. Awad and Dhemerae Ford) are powerhouses of cosplay, 3D design, and general badassery. On their podcast and blog, they show in vivid detail how two creative people have turned their love of fantasy, sci-fi, and cosplay into incredible 3D printed costumes and accessories – while empowering others to do the same. Last week, I had a chance to take a deep dive into what drives TheLaserGirls.

Screenshot 2017-02-14 17.14.49

I really admire you, and I’m sure many of your fans do as well, for showing that cosplay and fantasy/sci-fi can be welcoming, creatively inspiring spaces that women can help define. How do you see yourselves in terms overcoming traditional gender dynamics in those worlds?

The characters we portray and our undying love for them are just two parts of what we do with cosplay. Obviously, we choose to portray women that have shaped us through our lives, and to us represent strength in more nuanced and unique ways. One could say that the “Strong Female Character” is now a trope in itself that has become overly-simplified, and we want to open the box again and reintroduce diversity to that definition.

For Dhemerae, it is also about paying homage and thanking these characters for the impact that they had had on her, and for Sarah, it is also about giving them the attention and portrayal she wanted for them. Many of the characters Sarah loves, she feels were foundationally incredible, but were lessened by either a lack of exposure publicly or storylines that smothered them. Through cosplay, she hopes to give them a new platform to showcase their amazingness!

The other huge portion of this is our focus in making. What we want show is that making is meaningful – more accessible than one would think – and just [show] the joy of creating and building something: here’s a project, and this is how we made it, and it’s awesome, and it’s fun, and it’s challenging, and it betters you, and you can do it too, and here’s how. 3D printing has a wide and deep context that we have found turns many people away because they do not feel they are capable of unlocking it. We want to show and help people clear that wall; it is less about the final product (because if you love what you’re doing, you will look great!) and more about being creative and learning how to build something functional that makes you feel amazing and that gives back to your influences.

How did you get interested in cosplay? Did you each have a separate journey to where you are today, or did you draw inspiration from each other and get involved in creating costumes after you met?

S: I’ve always been interested in cosplay. I was a big anime fan as a tween/teen and I was also a performer, so cosplay was the ultimate marriage of the two. I did a few smaller cosplays with my siblings when I was younger, but never ended up pursuing it like I do now. I think fondly on those days, because when I started cosplaying again in my 20s, I remembered the sense of confidence I felt when I created it and wore it, and witnessed how I affected other people through it. It is a full circle moment for me.

I think working with Dhemerae has helped me unlock a completely different side of making within me that I would have never been able to access on my own, and that has hugely influenced and opened up my mind to what I’m capable of doing with cosplay.

Sarah in Queen Knight cosplay

Sarah in Queen Knight cosplay

D: I’ve always been interested but never had the confidence while I was younger to actually do it. Once I got involved with 3D printing, met Sarah, and began to hone my skills, I really proved to myself that I could in fact do it! This is sort of my time to revisit that interest and finally realize the characters that I always admired and loved.

Tell me about the moment you first used 3D modeling and 3D printing to trick out your costumes. What was your early process like?

D: The first thing I made was San’s mask from my favorite animated film, Princess Mononoke. I had this idea to use the ProJet 660 (sandstone printer) to create a lightweight hollow mask that mimicked the look and feel of a handmade mask. I also wanted to add my own artistic spin by creating some sinister looking cracks in the surface for a weathering effect. I had to print three iterations before I got the size right, and the mechanical component I spent hours designing to keep the mask on my head completely failed. It turns out the best solution was to simply epoxy an elastic band and wear it like a plastic Halloween mask. That process really taught me a lesson in over-engineering. The simpler solution was the most elegant one, and the costume turned out a lot better than expected. I also came up with a crazy idea to attach the ears to my piece of fur using screws inset into the powder prints, which worked beautifully. That was another lesson learned in experimenting with new fastening techniques using 3D printing. So, overall the process was frustrating, but probably the most rewarding to date.

Dhemerae in her San Mask

Dhemerae in her San Mask

S: For my first 3D printed cosplay, I decided to go all in and build body armor. I had never made anything like that ever, and I selected it for that very reason. With each project I choose, I try to give myself a new challenge to explore in order to always be learning and growing, and if I went into everything I learned and experienced during this process, it would be a book (Check out the Sarah’s Comic Con Chronicles on thelasergirlsstudio.com)!

A detail of Sarah's body armor

A detail of Sarah’s body armor

I can say generally speaking, my early process is always the same: I do a ton of sketching, 2D blueprint making, and calendaring in order to set the structure for my workflow. I am a wildly imaginative person which can very easily make me lose my focus, so I need that structure to balance me and make the way I work more effective.

What 3D printed accessories are you most proud of?

D: I am most proud of my Buster Sword from the Lightning As cosplay. For me it was a feat of engineering to be able to 3D model and print a sword that could be assembled in that way, at that scale; I was also proud of the magnet mechanism I designed to join the pieces!

Dhemerae with her Buster Sword

Dhemerae with her Buster Sword

S: Definitely my Fenrir pieces from this year’s Lightning As cosplay; the pauldron, the earrings, and the bag embellishment. I made all of those pieces from one model, which to me shows the usefulness and versatility of 3D printing. Also, the buttons that I printed for my pants – simple but so effective!

Sarah with her Fenrir pieces

Sarah with her Fenrir pieces

What advice would you give to cosplayers who might not be using 3D printing now, but are interested in exploring new ways to bring their visions to life?

When we took a 3D modeling class in college, our professor had us start by choosing a specific object we wanted to make, and we always recommend that others start in this way as well. Choosing an object you love and want to make will not only keep you motivated to finish through the more frustrating parts of learning, but will also make it easier to choose a software package to begin with, and a context under which to work. We also recommend when choosing your first project, to either select one large object or several smaller objects in order to not overwhelm yourself out of the gate!

In terms of where to find learning resources, we actually have a whole blog post on that we recommend you check out- also, Shapeways’ forums are fantastic!

Intro to 3D Modeling:

pt1: http://bit.ly/2kqXwtv

pt2: http://bit.ly/2lsFfMH

I’m curious about your relationship with your fans. Do you work actively to grow your fanbase? How do your fans inspire or inform your work?

From people just getting started in 3D printing to those with experience, the reason why we started thelasergirlsstudio.com was because we wanted to provide a resource and a perspective on the process that can hopefully inspire our followers to get involved in the community, or try new ventures in their process. We Have always genuinely loved to share our work and knowledge, and in a world where people hold onto their content for dear life, we strive to focus on sharing in hopes that others can learn from us, and start their own journeys into 3D.

We do our best to provide helpful feedback to those who contact us via any of our social media channels, and hope to build a positive community filled with productivity, experimentation, creativity, and joy.

Any big projects on the horizon that you’re excited about?

We recently announced that we’re going to I-Con in March in cosplay. Sarah is going as Re-L from the anime Ergo Proxy, and Dhemerae is going as Ripley from the first Alien film. We picked these characters specifically because they’ll have only one major prop print. We’re also considering attending other cons in the fall.


Other than cosplay, we’re working on a bunch of new and exciting content for the blog, which should include some good tutorials and maybe a few vlogs. We may have a couple of teaching opportunities on the, and we are hoping to potentially release a collection of pieces in the Summer/Fall of this year.

Luckily, you can actually buy a selection of TheLaserGirls’ accessories in their Shapeways Shop. And for more learnings, incredible photos, and insights, check out their blog, Instagram, and podcast.

 

Congratulations, Winners of the Sketchfab #3DSculptTabletopWars Challenge!

At Shapeways, we love working with fellow design communities, so we were delighted when we got the opportunity to sponsor Sketchfab’s monthly 3D sculpting challenge. We asked their community to come up with the coolest tabletop wargaming miniatures they could. They didn’t disappoint — the quality of each submission was phenomenal.

Judging with a combination of Sketchfab and Shapeways Community members and staff, including Shapeways Shop owner mz4250 of the The DM Workshop, we chose from the entries here:

 

…And the winners were:

Winner: 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

We loved seeing these designs take form in the Sketchfab forums, and we can’t wait to see how they’ll turn out 3D printed! Until then, share your latest designs in the comments below for a chance to be featured on the blog.

Now This Is Geek Love

Geeks in love often get ignored by jewelers and the rest of the romance-industrial complex. We think that’s unfair. Thankfully, Shapeways’ community of designers has a ton of incredible gift options for your geeky valentine. Here are a few of our favorites, just right for every type of geek in your life.

For the gamer who loves nature — Botanical Dice Set

When they’re not out in the field communing with nature, they’re rolling D20 with the druid RPG character, so why not give them the artisan set of dice that connects their two favorite worlds?

625x465_1126731_1136232_1459317771

Botanical Dice Set by Made by Wombat

For the history buff valentine — Valentine Tank Archer

Even the most veteran, grizzled wargamer will love this historically accurate miniature of the UK’s iconic WWII tank, appropriately named for the day — Valentine’s Day, 1940 — when the design was first submitted to the British War Office.

Archer_SP_17_pdr_Tank_Destroyer

Vehicle – Valentine Tank Archer by Sandman Artistry

For the biochemist who loves bling — The Ring Of Life DNA Molecule Ring

This DNA-shaped ring brings out the inherent romance in the double helix. Plus, it will keep them looking sharp while working under the microscope.

The Ring Of Life DNA Molecule Ring  MADE BY Universe Becoming

The Ring Of Life DNA Molecule Ring by Universe Becoming

For the trendy paleontologist — Trilobite Pendant

Give them the gift of their favorite prehistoric anthropod, brought back from extinction in incredible detail. You know they’ll love you for it.

Trilobite pendant  MADE BY Elytra

Trilobite pendant by Elytra

For the geek that wants to save lives — Mana Potion Pendant

Not only is this Mana Potion pendant by Lumecluster a super cool accessory that any gamer would know, all profits go towards a great cause: helping cancer victims and their families.

Mana Potion Pendant (designed by Lumecluster) by ElaineHyojinKim

Mana Potion Pendant (designed by Lumecluster) by ElaineHyojinKim

Looking for more geeky, amazing gifts for your valentine? Explore the Shapeways marketplace here. Let us know in the comments if we missed any of your favorite geeky gifts.

How TheLaserGirls Create Faux-Steel Swords

For our next installment of Cosplay Tips from TheLaserGirls (see past posts here and here), Sarah C. Awad and Dhemerae Ford share with us how they created a two-toned steel effect for their Buster Swords. Don’t miss your chance to check out their shop for utterly unique last-minute holiday gifts. And read on for all the details on their sword creation process.

The Final (Fantasy) Products!

The Final (Fantasy) Products!

In order to create the desired two-toned, steel effect for both of our Buster Swords, we set out on an extensive testing period to cover all our bases.  Experimenting upon familiar and unfamiliar materials, we were not only able to refine the “chroming” process we commonly use on our projects, but we also created a nuanced reference library of test pieces to go to for upcoming projects, saving us a lot of time for future work.

Prep Work

As mentioned, we decided to use the same kit and process Sarah used last year on her suit of armor, for it was the most familiar to us, the least time consuming, and the least expensive option for our time frame and budget.  For more information on the specifics of that process, click here.

Keep in mind, this process yields an effect that is more akin to “silver” than “chrome,” especially in terms of achieving a mirrored finish.  We like using this process because of these results.

In a nutshell, the  process is a 4-step spray painting procedure: colored base coat, urethane gloss adherent, aluminum dust (which gives the metallic finish), and another urethane gloss layer as a topcoat.  This project gave us the opportunity to play more with the different tones of grey we could achieve from simply changing that base coat color (which ended up being a happy accident when working on Sarah’s pieces last year).

Test Cards

At this point in the project, we were unsure about what materials we were planning to print in, so we decided to test on the top three we were considering:

ProJet 7000 SLA (laser sintered liquid): A glossy polypropylene-like ivory plastic  (Printed via the LaGuardia Studio)

Polished and Unpolished Nylon SLS (laser sintered powder, either polished in a machine or left :raw”): A photo-polymer plastic (Printed via Shapeways)

Our testers were 3 X 5 X .125 inch “cards,” each labeled with a number and a letter that corresponded with the material it was printed in (U for Unpolished Nylon, P for Polished Nylon, and 7K for SLA). We printed 10 of each card for safe measure.

Reference images in hand, the next step was to get some paint for our first base layer. We tested on the following (we added notes where we felt necessary):

Alsa Corp Killer Can in Jet Black: A “retro matte” black base coat that comes with the spray chrome kit.

Mountain GOLD Series in G7090 Coke: A less pigmented (“natural black”), but heavily textured black

Montana MTN 94 Series in RV119 London Grey: A soft dove grey with an olive undertone

Montana MTN BLK in 9001 Black: A rich black paint semi matte paint

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in Neutral Grey 5: We found that all the Liquitex paints definitely had the look of acrylic paint, especially the white.

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in Iridescent Rich Silver: Neutral metallic silver paint

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in Neutral Grey 3: ultra matte finish

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in Titanium White: matte finish

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in White Paint (Gloss and Matte): On the cool side of white

Krylon Metallic Spray Paint in Silver: Your standard silver spray paint

Krylon Color Master in Gloss White: Your standard High Gloss spray paint

Raw Paint Tests

Raw Paint Test Chips 2

Close Up of Silver Chips

Close up of Black and Gray Chips

Raw Paint Test 3

Raw Paint Test 4

Raw Paint Test 5

 

Base Coat: First Impressions

Overall, we had a solid line-up of tests, but we definitely had some standouts, for good and bad reasons.

Alsa Corp Killer Can in Jet Black:  looked great on all 3 materials, and did a great job of diminishing the texture of the SLS prints.  We liked the automotive feel it gave the SLA prints and the velvety feel it gave to the SLS.

Montana MTN 94 Series in RV119 London Grey: Loved the shade, disliked the spurting spray that was difficult to finagle- easily solved through replacing the cap.

Mountain GOLD Series in G7090 Coke: Preferred the Alsa Black due to its ultra matte finish and lack of texture- this paint was significantly textured in comparison; not great for imitating metal, but ended up being perfect for Sarah’s Fenrir Pauldron.

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in White Paint (Gloss and Matte): Looked good on all 3 materials and also helped with the surface texture; however, it did appear more like acrylic paint and less like spray paint.

All Chromed Up: First Impressions

Krylon Metallic Silver

Liquitex Metallic Silver

Gloss White

Alsa Black

Dark Grey

Matte White

Light Grey

Gold Tests

We found that the SLA coat was much smoother than the SLS, but the Polished turned out a lot better than expected; the material has a good tooth for spray paint, which made every coat fall evenly across the tests. We also did not experience any flaking on the SLS compared to the SLA.  Further sanding the Polished with fine-grit (400+ grit) sandpaper yielded an even smoother and more reflective result- the same goes for the SLA.

The Unpolished was heavily textured but still felt quite smooth, had strong reflectivity, and took paint effortlessly.

In terms of color changes, the grey paints yielded the most steel-like effect compared to the other colors, and the white yielded a finished closer to sterling silver.

If you have scrolled through the gallery above and found that every test looked quite similar, there are several reasons for that: firstly, the high reflectivity made the tests very difficult to photograph, and we did our best to capture the essence of each material.  Secondly, there were very subtle differences in each test in terms of tones and how the colors flashed and changed in different lighting.  This was something that we only really realized after completing our testing.

Conclusions and Decisions

 

After some deliberation, we ultimately decided that the Alsa Black and London Grey would suit both of our swords perfectly; they worked beautifully as a pair, especially in their nuances- they truly captured that steel feel.

Material wise, we did choose the SLA material not only due to our familiarity with it, but also due to its ultra smooth, high definition surface that would cut down on work time, as well as give us a crispness necessary for a blade.

The Polished and Unpolished SLS, while yielding great results in reflectivity, pigmentation, and coverage, just did not have the surface quality we were looking for in this project. We felt that for our vision that it did not mimic steel in terms of finish and in “weight,” not necessarily in terms of physical grams or pounds, but in in look and feel; it had a lightness to it that we felt was opposite to that of a heavy, steel blade. If you are going for a more hammered appearance or an aluminum finish, these materials work very well in achieving that, both from a cosmetic and physicality sense.

Some Takeaways:

It comes in a kit for a reason: We found that at the end of the day, the paint that came with the kit worked best with the chrome process- they were designed to work together after all. That may sound obvious, but this is why testing is so important; there are exceptions, and you will not know if you try.

Do the prep work: Sanded surfaces worked much better in terms of reflectivity across all the materials we tested.

Polished Preferred (at least in our opinion!): In their pure forms, we found that the Polished SLS prints worked better than the Unpolished prints for the look we were going for (see above).

Regarding the Alsa Killer Chrome Kit: Buffing and hand polishing after the chrome process actually lowers the reflectivity and shine of the prints. Using any other glossy spray paint as a topcoat in lieu of the kit’s topcoat also matte-ifies the surface.

– Sarah C. Awad and Dhemerae Ford

This blog has been reposted with permission from TheLaserGirlsStudio.

7 Boredom-Busting Stocking Stuffers

It’s the cherry on top of Christmas morning: the stocking, stuffed with a few extra goodies. It’s also a gifting challenge. Stocking stuffers should be unexpected, interesting — and tiny. Luckily, our designers are experts at delivering big impact in small packages. Helping you to deliver gifts that are the opposite of boring. This week, as we highlight Last-Minute Finds for every budget, discover seven stocking stuffers they may end up liking better than their real presents.

1. Micro Pocket Fidget Spinner

Micro Pocket Fidget Spinner by Idle Hands Development

Micro Pocket Fidget Spinner by Idle Hands Development

Fidget spinners have been big in 2016. Just add a couple of roller skate ball bearings, and you have a handy tool to keep your hands busy while your brain focuses. It’s true — fidget toys can actually help us focus. Plus, this one is small enough to keep your fidget toy obsession on the DL.

2. Santa-Approved Cookie-Dipper

Little Dipper by Craig Kaplan's Mathematical Art

Little Dipper by Craig Kaplan’s Mathematical Art

Some people just want a milk-soaked cookie, and not an entire glass of milk. We suspect that Santa is one of those people. So he’ll feel pretty good about leaving behind the Little Dipper in your little one’s stocking.

3. Bacon Mobius Strip

Bacon Mobius Strip by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Bacon Mobius Strip by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Mobius strips are amazing mathematical objects (read all about them here), and when combined with shockingly realistic bacon details, rendered in full-color sandstone, this one could become a bacon-lover’s favorite — and most unexpected — holiday gift.

4. Kaladesh Die

'Kaladesh' D20 Balanced Gaming Die by Tiny Tokens

‘Kaladesh’ D20 Balanced Gaming Die by Tiny Tokens

Trust us, the roleplayers in your life will go insane over this Magic the Gathering-inspired die.

5. Wow, Such Doge

doge by Ryan Kittleson's Sculpture

doge by Ryan Kittleson’s Sculpture

Doge is the meme that keeps on giving. He’s adorable, and he’s just excited to be here. Give your giftees a dose of doge with this stocking-sized figurine.

6. Klein Bottle Opener

Klein Bottle Opener by Bathsheba Sculpture LLC

Klein Bottle Opener by Bathsheba Sculpture LLC

The Klein Bottle is an amazing one-sided object that math nerds love. Play with the concept with this Klein Bottle that actually opens normal bottles.

7. Knuckies

Cat by Knuckies - Phone Stands, With a Twist

Cat by Knuckies – Phone Stands, With a Twist

These cool little tools are phone stands, phone grippers, and fidget toys all in one. Maybe the most useful stocking stuffer they’ll receive this year.

Check out our full selection of finds in our Holiday Gift Guide, and make sure to order soon. All of our holiday order deadlines can be found here. And let us know in the comments what you’d like to find in your stocking on Christmas morning.

Kerbals: The Out of This World Gamer Gift

NASA is obsessed with them. Elon Musk thinks they’re awesome. And the gamers in your life just might have spent countless hours with them. They’re Kerbals, intrepid space explorers — and they only come to life on Shapeways.

Jebediah Kerman on IVA by Kerbal Space Program 3D Prints

Jebediah Kerman on IVA by Kerbal Space Program 3D Prints

Kerbal Space Program is a game that invites players to design spacecraft, pilot missions, and explore new worlds. Based firmly on real-world physics, complex engineering challenges, and principles of spaceflight, few games have managed to combine science and lovable characters — the Kerbals themselves — in such a delightful way. Luckily, the Kerbals’ creators have chosen to offer 3D printed versions of the Kerbonauts and their worlds in vivid full color sandstone, exclusively on Shapeways.

Kerbin by Kerbal Space Program 3D Prints

Kerbin by Kerbal Space Program 3D Prints

Whether you’re looking to bring to life a team of Kerbals, their moons and solar system, or Wenher Von Kerman himself, the Kerbal Space Program Shapeways Shop has you and your gamer giftees covered.

Kerbal IVA Bundle by Kerbal Space Program 3D Prints

Kerbal IVA Bundle by Kerbal Space Program 3D Prints

To learn more about how the Kerbals came to be, read our Kerbal Space Program Designer Spotlight, featuring 3D artist Dan Rosas.

You can find hundreds more ways to Geek Out on holiday gifting in our Gift Guide. Let us know in the comments which geeky passions you’re shopping for this holiday season.

Give Dice Worth Showing Off

You keep them in a special pouch. You imbue them with luck to protect you from eldritch powers. And, you definitely mind when others ask to use them. Dice are a game lover’s secret sauce. So, as we celebrate all the ways our loved ones Geek Out this holiday season, we’re highlighting some of the most uniquely beautiful dice we’ve seen, by one of our community’s most prolific gaming designers, Chris Vos of Tiny Tokens.

His D20 Balanced Gaming Die, as featured in the Gamemaster collection in our Holiday Gift Guide, is designed in the visual style of the Kaladesh Magic the Gathering expansion. Its unusual artistry is sure to set apart anyone lucky enough to own it. As a regular D20 die, this piece works for Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and other RPGs. A spindown version that can be used as a life counter is also available.

D20 Balanced Gaming Die by Tiny Tokens

D20 Balanced Gaming Die by Tiny Tokens

And, if you’re looking to spoil your favorite gamemaster, the Starry Gaming Die Set below will set them up for whatever the game’s adventures bring.

'Starry' Gaming Die Set: D20, D12, D10, D8, D6, D4 by Tiny Tokens

‘Starry’ Gaming Die Set: D20, D12, D10, D8, D6, D4 by Tiny Tokens

3D printing has allowed for an explosion in creativity in the world of game design, resulting in intricately detailed collectors’ items like Chris Vos’ creations — perfect gifts for players who want to stand out from the crowd.

Discover even more incredible dice and gaming accessories in our Gamemaster collection, and check out our full Holiday Gift Guide for everyone else on your list.

What to Make for My Favorite Role-Playing Gamemaster?

This holiday season, we’re bringing you thousands of ways to Say You Made It, and this week, we’re focusing on ways to satisfy the geeky obsessions of everyone on your list — gamemasters included.

We all know who they are. They’ve nurtured you, giving you an extra saving throw whenever you were down. They watched you grow from level 1 to level 10 and choose your secondary traits. They warned you not to attack that necromancer dragon, then sent an NPC paladin to help when you inevitably did.

This holiday season is a great chance to show them that you care with some awesome pencil and paper gaming-inspired 3D printed swag, made from the heart. Here are a few of my favorites below.

Let’s start with this incredible steampunk-themed D6 die by Alea Lacta Est. Look at the way it actually uses the gears to show the numbers. Look at that immaculate detail. And, with 27 materials to choose from, you can also make this die match the aesthetic of the game (or player) you’re buying it for.

Gears Delirium by Alea Iacta Est

Gears Delirium by Alea Iacta Est

One of the coolest ways to to visualize your role-playing world is with figurines you might already have on hand. If you have some LEGO mini figures laying around, why not put them to good use and turn them into brave heroes? This set of accessories by Mingles 3D will allow you to customize any mini figure with a little paint, turning it into an adventurer.

625x465_1733760_476733_1459323656

Hero Pack by Mingles 3D: Minifigure Accessories

True story: I brought this D6 die by dice veteran Ceramic Wombat to GenCon earlier this year and people were blown away. They couldn’t believe it was real. Do the right thing and get it for your gamemaster so they can have the same experience. Make it truly personal by picking a material that matches the rest of their gear.

625x465_6955653_2916269_1459319866

Labyrinthine Die6 by Made by Wombat

Do you have a gamemaster who loves to get creative? These hero figurines come in our Black High Definition Acrylate and are a blast to paint.

625x465_15833637_9281640_1478164917

Fantasy RPG Heroes miniatures set by Small Ox Miniatures

Looking for more cool gifts for your favorite gamemasters? Check out the whole collection of geeky gifts here. For even more gifting inspiration for everyone from miniatures makers to interior design lovers, shop the full gift guide here.

New Dieselpunk Miniature Robots Kickstarter

This week, we’re going full geek to bring you the best 3D printed holiday gifts for the gamers, roleplayers, puzzle masters, fantasy builders, and meme makers on your list. Some of the best geeky gifts are those that let giftees paint, customize, and play. Enter Noah Li’s miniatures. To help expand the options he can offer into full kits, he’s set up a Kickstarter. Read on to learn more.

A few months ago, we featured an awesome design by Noah Li, the miniature Russian Walker tank.

Since he shared that design with us, he’s been hard at working expanding the tank’s options into a series of interchangeable, customizable kits of parts for these robotic war machines. To finish the project, he’s raising money via a Kickstarter, which you can support here.

 giphy-2

 

Noah set out to create a series of customizable miniature tanks inspired by a science fiction, dieselpunk setting. Representing designs in an alternative World War II reality, each tank is based on a different country. The parts are totally interchangeable, allowing for endless creative combinations.

Below are some process photos documenting Noah’s post-processing and painting of his French- and Russian-themed tanks.

First, the raw Strong and Flexible Plastic is cleaned of any remaining powder:

DSCN8997

 

Then it gets a base coat of paint:

DSCN8999

 

Finally, metallic paint is applied to show wear, and brown tones are rubbed on to show dirt, giving the impression of a well-used machine:

DSCN9009

 

The final parts are interchangeable and can be assembled and mixed together:

DSCN9015

 

Examples of how the tanks can be assembled:

DSCN9049b

 

And reassembled:

DSCN9052

 

The obligatory banana to show scale:

DSCN9089

For more check out Noah Li’s shop and Kickstarter campaign here. Looking for more paint-it-yourself pieces to satisfy the miniatures lovers on your list this holiday season? Check out our Paint it Collection here.