Question About Costs For A 5 Inch 3d Model

Discussion in 'Miniatures and Scale Models' started by sbeddoes1, May 18, 2017.

  1. sbeddoes1
    sbeddoes1 New Member
    Hi everyone!

    New member here.

    I don't know a lot about 3D printing so I was wondering if anyone could give me a rough estimate of costs per unit for a colour printed 3d miniature.

    I have a business idea for 3D printed models of musicians.

    The models would be around 5 inches in size and in full colour.

    Similar to the products shown here -

    If I had the 3D modelling done by a freelancer and got the file to upload here, what would it cost to make 1? Is it cheaper if you make 50-100?

    What material would you recommend?

    Finally, what sort of file do I need to request from my designer to allow it to be printed by Shapeways? Is it an STL file?

    Any advice would be very much appreciated.


    Last edited: May 18, 2017
  2. edweldon
    edweldon New Member
    Scott - My expereince in model building is in HO model trains using old school building methods. But I do watch the occasional HO scale models of buildings in the 5 inch size range sold through Shapeways. Prices each tend to run up in the $100+ range. Not very competitive with other methods of model building for simple decorative objects. There are some small shops that make and sell detailed HO scale building structures made of resin cast in flexible rubber molds. At least one I know of is now 3d printing some of his master patterns for making the molds. Models this size are usually hollow and the resin castings need to be assembled with adhesives after a bit of hand work to get good fits with minimum gaps. I would chart an initial path this way unless your product has a potential sales price in the hundreds od dollars. You will have to develop the skill set for resin casting but much has been written on the subject and there are many sources of mold making silicone rubber and casting resins and home made vacuum chambers for degassing the resin as it cures. And this will al least get you a way of testing your market with a reasonable investment in materials.
    Pick a material for the 3d casting master that has a smooth surface that will release from the mold and strong enough to survive the process of making the mold wherever there may be undercuts that the silicone has to stretch in order for you to remove the mold from the master.
    This is far from a slam-dunk for manufacturing. You will spend much time and materials developing your manufacturing process and you don't want to waste money unnecessarily.
    Here's a link to one of the model train structure suppliers I'm referring to so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about.:
    Ed Weldon, Los Gatos, CA
  3. sbeddoes1
    sbeddoes1 New Member
    Ed - Thanks a lot for your fast and detailed response. Really appreciate it!

    Hmm. $100/£77 is quite a bit higher than I was expecting but we'll see!

    I have experience of resin casting in rubber molds. A company I worked for and still work next door to make full size horse mannequins for animal rescue services to practice with.

    I wouldn't be making orders for 3D prints without knowing there was a market for the product.

    I know a few tools for testing demand. I was intending to get the design done on for £90, get them to video the design process and show that to fans of the musician on twitter to generate interest and see if they would be interested in buying.

    With the resin, would that involve me having to paint every colour by hand? It seems like an inefficient process to mix that number of different coloured resins.
  4. edweldon
    edweldon New Member
    Scott - I don't have a lot of time this evening to write a good answer for you. But briefly.... You are developing a new product for a market you probably don't completely understand if for no other reason than it looks to me like a new concept in the music fan market. I suspect no one will take you seriously until you show them one. Resin casting and hand painting is the obvious way to test the market. No matter how you make the first prototypes you are going to have to demonstrate that they are "art" worth buying. You can create that art in a 3d modeler and at some point in the creative process create an internal structure of individual parts to which you assign specific colors. That will get you a set of files of parts you can send to the 3d printer for production into solid pieces that you can assemble to verify that your design models actually look OK assembled. It will likely take several more printing iterations to get a complete review model. In the interim you will want to be exploring available colors of printing filament to see how they fit artistically. I hope you have some artistic ability to do conceptual sketches of parts and their coloration.

    Somewhere along the line you should try some experimental resin casting to have that skill set in your "tool box" It may turn out that your "alpha" prototype is a mix of resin, 3d and even metal parts. The building of that alpha prototype will enable you to have something with which you start a an effort to explore the market for the product.

    Think carefully before you expose your idea to the world. Almost any musician with a serious fan base is going to have people trying to get a license from him to produce and sell stuff related to his productions. And they all have contacts in China who will crash an idea into production if enough money is waved under their noses. And yes, they are getting very good at 3d printing.

    Understand that your work is copyrighted automatically as is any piece of original art. Learn your rights in this area. Also understand the use of non-disclosure agreements before you are ready to actually sell these products. These will protect you from a supplier or agent stealing your idea or important pieces of it and early fueling a competitor. And also the musician has copyright and trademark rights that can restrict what you can advertise and sell with out getting a license from them. Your development work doesn't sound like it will produce anything patentable; but you can visit that subject later if need be.

    You are doing a product development here and the same general approach needs to be followed or if not, understood, whether you are a "company" of one or a major corporation.

    Start sketching and getting proficient in 3d modeling. Use a favorite artist medium to apply and test colors. Study the possible variations of patterns and colors as well as abstract art techniques that might be applicable.

    So much for now. Til next time, Ed Weldon
  5. sbeddoes1
    sbeddoes1 New Member
    Ok Ed. Thank you for your help with this. I appreciate you taking the time to explain things in such detail.