Evolution of a Blog

This blog has evolved as I have as a maker. It starts at the beginning of my journey where I began to re-tread my tires in the useful lore of micro electronics and the open-source software that can drive them. While building solutions around micro-electronics are still an occasional topic my more recent focus has been on the 3D Printing side of making.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Painting Tanks - First Blood

First it was printing tanks.  Lots of them.  Then it was designing and printing bling for tanks.  Lots of bling.  Still doing that by the way.  Then it was designing a bridge for tanks.  Am rather happy with that bridge also, by the way.  Now it is painting tanks ... and as covered in the last post,  dioramas in which to house them!

The first two tanks, the Panther G and the T-34, were painted by Prepared for War.  I had tried to paint a Sherman but had given up on the job.  On seeing these two demonstrations of what a little tank can look like, I decided to try my hand again.  I do think that David, at Prepared for War, might have had to spend a little more time on my models than he expected.  First, because I don't think that I did too good a job of cleanup, and second as the prints that I sent him were not as good as later prints that I have done (the Tiger in particular).

The last model shown below is not 3D Printed but is a regular injection molded model.  There is not a Stug available to print and paint as a direct comparison so I have ordered a King Tiger model to contrast against the one shown below.

Finally, I am working on another diorama (the first one featured a Bailey Bridge), this time an urban setting, that will feature a great deal more printed content.  The King Tiger will play the key role in that diorama.

Now leaving the professionally painted tanks behind we come to the fourth tank that I actually printed myself.  The first was the Sherman that I gave up on doing.  The second was a Panther G that I learned from but binned.  The third was pretty much exactly as below but was gifted.  This is a Cromwell IV and as you can see features some 3D Printed bling as well.

King Tiger printed with a 0.25mm nozzle, a layer height of 0.08mm, and at a pretty slow speed.  This is a high quality print and took over ten hours to complete!  I am happy with the result and with my paint job though I have not finished yet...as in it needs some aging.  Yes the number on the tank is bogus and will get changed!

Below is the Open Fire StuG G injection molded kit.  I did a reasonably good job of assembly and painting.  Very happy with my painting of the details.   Not so happy with the camo job which was my attempt at soft edged style using a brush as I don't have an airbrush (yet).  Also not sure about the tone of the paint compared to the Tiger.   I thought that I had done them the same but now don't remember.  Need to do two models at the same time and see what the differences really are.

There is no doubt that the quality of the injection molded model is better than my best print:
  • Even at 0.08mm resolution you can still make out extrusion lines.  Injection molded plastic parts are going to be a lot nicer than extruded parts.  Other 3D Printing technologies would or will address this (but not in my man cave).
  • While M_Bergman does a fantastic job of his models the details from areas like the road wheels on the StuG are better as a result of the injection molding process versus 3D Printing.
  • Other details on the StuG are also improved by the kit nature of the build.  Note that some of these things can easily be done on printed models (addition of bling).
I guess the question is one that the war gamer is going to have to answer.   Is the quality good enough?  Assuming someone has their own printer, assuming they have plenty of time to print tanks, and discounting capital costs for the printer, the King Tiger cost me 53p to print using mid-grade plastic.  It probably took the same amount of time for cleanup, removing support material and other artifacts of the print process, as assembly of an extruded model.  I have not done a side by side comparison but I assume that painting times will be about the same.

Those are some big assumptions but the presence of 3D Printers will be growing and I suspect that more and more armies will be marching as prints rather than extrusions.


  1. 53 pence? Sounds cheap. The last model I did Shapeways wanted $800. Hollow but about 12" x 10" x 6" with three turrets and gun tubes plus four identical track units. The detail on your printed models is pretty good. Look at gammdls.com (gamer's models) whose cast resin models sell reasonably well. Some of his are very good, some not so. I can send you pics if you need them.
    One suggestion. Using a very fine black felt tip pen run it along the lines where parts meet. The best example on the Tiger II is the side skirts. It can really help the looks of a cast model.

    1. 53p of plastic...discounting the not insignificant cost of my printers, electricity, and my time! Shapeways charges for all that plus a profit for them and for the model maker. Was the $800 print from one of their SLA printers? Not sure if you have seen one of their "low cost" prints ... they are high quality but they are SLS which means slightly grainy texture. I will be doing a post shortly showing the differences in the three major technologies. Thanks for all the input. I will take it onboard as the English say.

  2. I should note that all the models of vehicles are printed from a collection on Thiniverse by m_bergman.