HOW TO PRINT FORWARD MARCH MINIATURES

New to 3d printing? Great!

Hello, and welcome to Forward March Studios, the world's first all-inclusive 3d printed range of 2mm historic wargame miniatures.  Whether you are an old grognard or a relative new-comer to the miniature wargame hobby, Forward March Studios' range of 2mm, 3d printed miniatures may be different from your general expectation of what a model soldier range is.  This webpage will explain to you exactly how to use my 3d printed files, so that you can begin collecting and painting larger armies than you ever thought possible

How to purchase and print Forward March Miniatures in 3 easy steps:

1:  Purchase the complete library of Forward March Miniatures 2mm historic wargames figures.  You can purchase the entire library of Forward March Miniatures 2mm historic wargame figures here.   After purchasing them you are free to print out as many copies of each model as you want, for personal use.


2:  After payment (via credit card or PayPal) you will receive a download of over 100 .stl files, each of which represents a unique 2mm model designed for use in historic war games.


3:   Upload the files you want to print to a 3d printing service online, or use your own 3d printer.  If you use an online service, after the models are printed up they will be mailed to you by the printer. 

Can I print a bunch of these out, sell them to my friends, and get rich?

Yes.  Yes.  No, hahaha...


When you buy the Forward March Library you will notice some language that says you are allowed to print them for "personal, non-commerical use."  What this means, is that you may use these files to print as many copies as you want for your own use.  The person who prints the files for you doesn't need a license (that is, he doesn't need to pay the $15 for the files).  This is equally appicable both to Shapeways with their factory of SLS printers, and your friend who owns his own kit printer in his spare bedroom.  If you have a license, you may print up as many copies as you like, and sell them to your friends and others at a profit, as long as those friends also have a license ("have a license" = "they paid for the files").  If you want, you can create derivative product based on my models (such as molds), and sell them at a profit, as long as you have purchased the files, and they are sold to a person who also has a license and who uses them for personal use.  Personal use encompasses good faith sales in flea markets and places like eBay.  That is, if you are selling simply to get rid of your models, it doesn't matter if you sell to someone who doesn't have a license.  What you may not do under the agreement is purchase the files and then begin manufacturing them for profit for sale to persons who have not paid for the library.  If you have any questions about this, please contact me by email.

How will I know what will print out?

Descriptions of each model are found on this website, along with pictures of most of the figures.  All of the models contained on this website are located in the library, so if you see something you like, they will be found in there.  If you see a model on this webpage, and want to know which .stl file it came from, contact me and ask!  I'll be glad to let you know.


When you upload these files to a 3d printing service (such as Shapeways or 3dhubs) you will be able to see a 3d render of the model before you print it out.  

Can you recommend a 3d printing service?

3d printing technology is getting better and cheaper all the time, so any advice I give here can't be taken as gospel.  However, I have good luck with the following:


Shapeways


Pros:  The model range was designed to be printed at Shapeways using their Versatile Plastic.  Very tough prints.  No need to spray paint or clear coat.  Very few printing errors.


Cons:  Relatively expensive, but still cheaper than many pewter or plastic historic wargames figures.  Technicians may tag the sprues and require you to use "Print it anyway" to complete your order.


Click here to go to Shapeways.


Shapeways is the 800 lbs gorilla of 3d printing.  Their customer service is good, and they have the lowest cost SLS printer available.  My files have been designed to work on the Shapeways SLS printers, and come out very consistently.  Both myself and my customers have ordered models with thousands upon thousands of figures, including very finely detailed bayonets and cavalry, without any breakage.  That said, breakage does occur, most often when they are packaging the models up.  But in my experinence this is rare.  


Shapeways does not like 1mm sprues, which all of my models utilize.  You should be aware of this when you print my models off.  There is a good chance that a reviewing technician will highlight the sprues; if they do so, use the "Print it anyway" feature to bypass the technician's opinion.  This happens only occasionally, but can be a source of frustration sometimes.  For the record, I have never recieved a model with a broken 1mm sprue out of the hundreds and hundreds of copies that I have printed off.  And, even if a sprue breaks, the models themselves should be fine.  Breakage at Shapeways occurs in post-production, not during the printing of the model.


All things considered, I think Shapeways does the best job on my range of 2mm soldiers of any printer out there.  The detail is crisp, and often surprising the first time you see it in person.  I have spent hundreds, possibly thousands of hours of hobby time maximizing the quality of these models in Versatile plastic, while making them as cheap as possible and aesthetically pleasing and historically accurate.  When you see them printed out, I think you'll agree that it was worth the effort (and your hard earned money!!)


The white, Versatile Plastic material that I recommend is extremely tough, much tougher than plastic used in traditional model soldiers.  You could make the argument that it is even tougher than some blends of pewter.  Dropping them will not damage them, or the paint job.  Throwing them across a concrete floor will probably not damage them either.  SLS plastic is a very durable material.


Another nice feature is that you can dye the plastic the basic color of the unit you want to create, thus skipping the need to base-coat the physical models prior to painting.  The plastic has excellent "teeth," and is almost like painting on artists gesso.  This makes it very easy to make out tiny details on my models. 


Finally, because of the "tooth" that the SLS plastic from Shapeways has, you don't really need to clear-coat the figures.  The paint will be robust enough without you doing anything further.


FDM Printers


Pros:  Cheap.  Really cheap.  Getting better constantly.


Cons:  Not for beginners to 3d printing.  Resolution can be an issue, and there is a vast range of quality in FDM printers.  You need to have a good rapport with your 3d printer technician to get the best results.


FDM printers are what most people think about when they hear the words, "3d printer."  In FDM printing, plastic filaments are extruded through a heated nozel that builds up the model one layer at a time. 


If you have never used 3d printing technology before, I would recommend starting with Shapeways and not online FDM hubs.  If you have some experience, or would like to experiment with printing on the cheap, then FDM printing might be of interest to you.  I prefer 3d Hubs, due to the cheap price, the ease of use and the great communication you have with the printer technicians.  Make sure you use the messanger system to explain exactly what it is you want.  They also have a money-back guarantee, so if your model doesn't print up, they'll generally give you an automatic refund.


The biggest advantage of FDM printing is its price.  You can print out copies of my models on an FDM for pennies on the dollar compared to Shapeways.  I actually recommend that you try experimenting with FDM for the buildings and bridges, at least, because these are the most expensive things to print up at Shapeways in Versatile Plastic.  


The downsides of FDM printing are also, potentially, the most rewarding.  There are many, many different makes and models of FDM printers on the market, both for home-printers, and as professional grade machines.  There are also huge differences between  partiuclar brands of filament, and the capabilities of different filaments within the same brand.  Also, the knowledgeability of the technician running the 3d printer is an important factor; sometimes an adjustment to the temperature that the extruder is running at will make a huge difference in the quality of the end product.  


All of this is so say, that FDM printing of my files is a Wild West.  Going this route will require experimentation.  This also makes FDM the most rewarding, because, as I said, FDM printing is extremely cheap compared to Shapeways, and even cheaper compared to pewter or hard plastic model soldiers.  


Included in the library are a few simlpified models that are designed for FDM printers (although they would also work well for non-FDM printers).  These files are clearly marked as such, with "FDM" in the file name.  I will be expanding my offerings for FDM printers in the future, which will be available as a supplement to the library.