El Greco Miniatures is expanding and introducing 3D Printing services to its webstore. 3D sculpting and printing are now well integrated in the hobby with hundreds of talented creatives releasing 3D-sculpted models for general release.
How is a resin print different from a resin cast?
A traditional resin cast is produced by taking a master of a figure/bust which is then placed in a mould. Once the mould is set, resin is poured into the mould and left to cure. Once set, the casting is ready.
Prior to assembly, mould lines would need to be removed using fine blades, files and sandpaper. Different manufacturers will present different standards of finish. Some kits are almost ready for assembly and painting with minimal clean-up. Others will require more clean-up and preparation, including some filling where parts are joined, etc.
A 3D resin print is quite a different process to traditional casting, requiring a 3D printer and digital files of the figure/bust. Models are sculpted digitally in a 3D software package (e.g. Zbrush), then the file is exported for printing using a 3D printing.
How are 3D models printed?
The finished models are exported and input into a slicer software, such as Chitubox/Lychee, where the print supports are generated. These supports are crucial; they are placed in critical positions around the model to ensure that the whole model is supported and not suspended in air. The model is then sliced by the software into layers and can be sent to the printer.
Once the print is complete, the model is washed in 100% Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) to remove any uncured liquid resin; the supports are manually removed and then it is further cured under UV light to cure totally.
We are using SLA Resin printers, which are different to the more common FDM machines. Both print objects in layers, but SLA Resin printers are capable of printing in much smaller increments, down to 10 microns. This is because FDM machines extrude heated plastic filament onto a bed, while resin printers use liquid UV resin that hardens when exposed to UV light. An LED screen masks a layer, allowing UV light to harden the masked area. As a result, the resin printers offer smaller layer increments and finer detail.
Are you the licence holders of the 3D products listed on your webstore?
We have seen several manufacturers who create 3D sculpts to be printed and set in moulds for traditional resin casting. That notwithstanding, there are many other creators releasing digital files of their artworks for personal or commercial 3D printing.
Commercial 3D printing is only possible when a commercial license is obtained from the rights holder. Licenses are limited to physical 3D prints and prohibit distribution of digital files.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a 3D print?
3D Printing has some advantages over resin casting, in that it is possible to have more fine intricate details and deep undercuts, etc. A 3D print is also much cheaper to purchase than a traditional cast as it is a more direct process as opposed to a traditional casting.
However, it can be more brittle than a casting because of the different UV resin, as well as instances where some additional clean-up of support marks and resin dust is required before painting.
How do I order a 3D print?
Select from the range of 3D prints in our store (these are all identified as '3D Print’), add it to your shopping cart, and checkout as usual.
We will process your order and your model is prepared for printing. Printing can take between 2.5 hours to 12 hours, depending on the complexity and the size of the selected figure. Once printed, all supports are removed, the figure is cured and cleaned to our best ability. All parts are given a final check and then packaged securely, ready for dispatch.
Please note that 3D Prints are printed on-demand and will be dispatched within 7-10 working days, depending on the size of the print queue.
What print resolution do you use to print the models?
We print at a layer height of 0.03 - 0.04mm (30-40 microns). 0.03mm offers the highest detail; the standard of 0.04 and 0.05mm are high quality while also printing in a reasonable time. In certain areas of the model, most notably in flat planes, some stepping/visibility of the layers may occur. However, this is barely visible at 0.03mm and can be easily fixed with a light sanding and would be smooth once primed.
Do I have to remove the supports?
We remove all supports before the models are cured to leave as few marks as possible on the model, however, the occasional few may be missed. These are easily removed, either with a blade or by sanding and some model filler.
How do I prepare the model for painting?
The models have been cleaned in 100% IPA and completely cured so are safe to handle. However, some residue may be missed from the sanding and cleaning of the model. When preparing your model, you can use some warm soapy water and a toothbrush to gently wash away any dust or residue. Parts can be brittle so be careful when doing so.
Any marks from supports can be sanded down and pits filled with some model filler. Your model should be ready to be primed and painted.
Please note: The resin will continue to cure when exposed to UV Light, even sunlight. These will lead to it becoming more brittle. Priming and painting the resin will protect from UV light and stop further curing.
IMPORTANT: For your own safety, please wear a mask when sanding and cleaning up resin products as resin particles are harmful.
Are the models printed in one piece?
3D printed figures are printed in parts and do require assembly. In doing so, we can maximise the detail of the model and minimise the supports distorting the details.