Sensationalist Headline! The end of buying minis as we know it!

Yes, this may be a bit forward thinking and yes the headline is a bit sensationalist but we could be looking at the beginning of the end of buying minis for RPGs and strategy games such as Warhammer.  Of course, all that money your spending on minis doesn’t just head straight back to your bank account, you’ll need it to purchase your very own Thing-O-Matic 3D.

What in the name of Cthulhu’s little brother (who goes by Chthuck) am I talking about?  Why I’m talking about personal, 3D printing.  Every gamer’s laptop plugged directly into a fantastic machine that can take colored licorice looking stuff and turn it into a 5th level Bard, complete with base, ready to be plopped onto the hex or grid map of your choice.  Fabrication of things at your fingertips.

Granted, the technology is still wending its way down to the levels of real affordability, but for those die-hards who need to be the first on their block to make the transition from consumer to producer, the Thing-O-Matic 3D is what they’re looking for.

Available at a cool $1,225 (some assembly required) (well, just about all of the assembly required) this Thing-O-Matic 3D is so named because it produces things. Automatically!  Via USB!  When you look at the fact that there are minis out there which will run you well over $50, and you know you want to own 24.5 of these minis, well you’ve just justified the cost of your very own 3D printer! As a bonus, they’ll be made from non-toxic plastic, so your offspring can happily chew on them!

Taking a bit of the sensationalism out of this article, this really is a very cool, very important advance.  Affordable fabrication in the home is something that has been a long time coming and with this kit, it’s pretty much just arrived in an easy to use form.  Give this technology a decade or so and we’ll be seeing really affordable units that can do things like create the minis we long for.  Or slightly less fun but more important things like fabricate repair parts for utilities right at your home.  Or create toys, models, household parts, car parts, and more by extruding hot plastic.  That’s pretty damned cool.  I’m curious though, when can we see the first 3D models for minis appearing at DriveThruRPG?

Here’s a full description of what your $1225 will get you:

The MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer is a breakthrough in 3D printing technology. We’ve named it the Thing-O-Matic because it is an automatic 3D printer. All other 3D printers can only do one thing at a time while the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer prints thing after thing! Buy it, put it together and enjoy being the first on your block to live in the cutting-edge personal manufacturing future of tomorrow!

Fully Automatic

The MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer comes with a new larger MakerBot Automated Build Platform v2.0 that will keep printing and printing… Automatically!

The MakerBot Automated Build Platform is truly a revolution in 3D printing. Updated to be larger for the Thing-O-Matic, it allows you to have a print queue where your machine will clear the build surface between builds by printing, then ejecting. It prints objects one after another. This turns your MakerBot into a little factory that sits on your desktop. Best of all, this is completely automated: you hit print, and the machine does all the work. Want to print 100 butterflies? Easy. Want to print an entire chess set? No problem. Want to start a business selling printed things that you’ve designed? Awesome. Have the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer do all the work while you design new things.

Extremely Reliable

The MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer comes with the MakerBot MK5 plastruder which will give you thousands of hours of trouble-free printing.

We’ve invested many hours into designing, testing, and tweaking the MK5 plastruder. The result is an extruder that is extremely reliable, and very simple to maintain. The hot end on this extruder is essentially unbreakable and the filament drive system is one of the strongest on the market. We’ve run this thing for more than a thousand hours with minimal maintenance. Changing the filament is a breeze with the filament pressure thumb screw. You can even hot-swap the filament mid print!

Higher Quality

The layer alignment is much better which results in nicer prints and higher resolution.

We’ve completely overhauled the drive system to give the optimum positioning accuracy. The entire system has been upgraded to sturdy 3/8″ diameter linear shafting. This is overkill, but you can trust that the axes will be sturdy and straight. We’ve also switched to self-aligning, sintered brass bearings. These are very forgiving to DIY assembly and provide a nice, smooth motion on the steel shafts. Last, but not least we’ve completely replaced the Z axis with a stepper driven, cantilevered stage. Guided by two of the linear shafts, this completely eliminates any Z wobble and results in nicely aligned layers. Using a high-angle lead screw, we were able to increase the speed of the Z axis from 150mm/minute to 1000mm/minute. That’s more than 6 times the speed! This means the layer changes are almost completely imperceptible and blobbing is significantly reduced for smoother prints.

Easier to Use

Connect to the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer over USB and hit print – the machine will detect its position and start printing.

The new MakerBot Gen4 Electronics have been designed to make the printing experience even easier than ever. The motherboard now sports an integrated USB port, so you simply plug the MakerBot in with a standard USB cable. We’ve also added full endstop support so that you never need to touch the XYZ axes ever again. When you hit print, the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer will automatically home itself, heat up, and begin printing. All you have to do is sit back and relax while your MakerBot does all the work. Living in the future is awesome. Oh yeah, and the electronics are all inside, so you don’t have wires dangling everywhere. This also makes travelling on the subway with your MakerBot stress-free.

The MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer kit is available for $1225 and has a 7 week lead time. Order a MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer and get the latest in personal manufacturing technology!

You’ll get
* The lasercut parts to assemble a Thing-O-Matic CNC machine.
* 3 x NEMA 17 motors
* The hardware to assemble it.
* Belts and pulleys
* Smooth Rods and Drive system components
* Pre-assembled 4th Generation Electronics
* a USB cable to talk to it
* cat5e and rainbow cables to wire things up
* a standard ATX power supply
* a tools kit with all the hex keys, wrenches, and other bits you need to construct it.
* SD card to buffer your prints

[tags]minis, rpg, the machines are gearing up for total world domination, 3d printing, technology[/tags]

8 thoughts on “Sensationalist Headline! The end of buying minis as we know it!

Add yours

  1. Heh – I don’t think the software/hardware is quite as mature as we’d hope for minis just yet.

    I can easily see a time not to far in the future where these things cost half of what they do now, and people are trading and selling files for printing 3D objects (such as minis) like they do with PDFs now.


  2. If you’ve not read the book Makers by Cory Doctorow, then I suggest you do so. It talks about the likelihood of that kind of future happening. It’s awesome, fascinating, and makes me want to a mature 3D printer. =)


  3. I’ve been printing paper gamemats and posterboard-standups (think Candyland) since 2001. Fully customizing the look of your character *AS YOU PROGRESS* is an awesome feature. If you’re scared of Makerbot’s assembly, you can buy one of these bad-boys from China for $1500:

    Also, shameless plug, visit my website to upload and print your own high quality vinyl or fabric mats or anything else ^_^.


  4. So, you have one of these?

    Well, then–put your money where your mouth is! Print some minis, paint ’em, photograph them, gimme some evidence that this thing actually provides the feature that it’s being advertised around.

    And then I’ll go ZOMGZOMGZOMG and blow thousands of dollars on one. Just… not ’til then, y’know? Yeah, I know 3D printers exist. They’re pretty awesome. But when I know they do what I want them to do, then I’ll actually be interested in buying one for myself.


  5. The article was written as a bit sensationalist – you know, like “UFO’s Scanning Our Nuclear Arsenal” or “Bird Flu Again Gaaaah!”

    That is, lots of hype because I’m interested in this but perhaps not 100% there yet. I’d have thought the “Sensationalist Headline!” bit would have sufficed but here I am in the comments explaining this.

    No, I don’t have one. No, I won’t be buying one (today). Yes, I would love one and yes the technology needs to mature a bit more.



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