How to prepare for painting a 3D printed miniatures

3D printing is a relatively new technology that has been increasingly entering the wargaming world for some time. It offers many amazing benefits – from the level of details, through acceleration and cheaper production process, to the possibility of editing and making versions of the model, saved after all as a graphic design and not being a sculpture.

Most players and modelers are used to metal or plastic figures and have devoted a lot of time to learning how to process and prepare them for painting. On this page you will find information on how to perform these actions when it comes to our miniatures printed in SLA technique.

A few words therefore about the technique. SLA printers work by lighting a special resin by UV rays. Such resin is located inside the printer, in a container with a transparent bottom, under which there is an exposure LCD screen. A special platform is immersed in this container, to which the exposed resin must adhere. After exposure, which usually lasts tens of seconds for one layer, the platform rises and after some time immerses again in the container, so that the lamp illuminates another layer – attached to the previous one. Such a layer is very thin, it can be 0.02-0.05 mm, which means that the model has several hundred and sometimes even several thousand layers, and therefore its printing can take many hours. This production method also means that the model is printed upside down. It must therefore be placed on special supports. It is possible to print it directly adjacent to the platform, but the large bottom surface of the ship model will make its subsequent separation from the platform very heavy and may damage the model. What’s more – all the elements that do not have contact with the previous layers, the so-called printed in the air, they must also have such supports – otherwise they will not print, a piece of resin will simply fall into the container. Then the miniatures will not be printed, or will be printed with errors (e.g. without a rifle). Not all miniatures need to have supports, but they will appear wherever there are protruding parts – e.g. rifles, backpacks. The same is true for horses (heads and tails), cannon models (supports are necessarily e.g. under the barrels), etc.

These are the miniatures on the printer platform, right after printing. All printed elements must be attached to the platform, so each protruding element must be connected to it by a support.

Removing these supports is the first task that needs to be done when preparing miniatures for painting. We guarantee that it is easy and quick, just follow a few rules.

Below is a photo of printed figures of French cavalry. Some of them already have supports removed, but most still have them. It is worth noting that they are placed to support the tail and head – this will be almost always the case with cavalry models.

3D printed cuirassier models with supports.

To prepare the model for painting and placing it on the base, we must therefore get rid of the supports. However, you need to know that the resin from which the ships are made has a very good level of details, but at the same time it is slightly more fragile than types of resin, which some may know from casting figurines in 28mm scale. In the case of large parts it does not matter, but already with e.g. rifle barrels may have. The supports are so delicate that they should be easily removed, but to minimize the risk, we recommend the following two methods:

  1. The figures should be put in a pot of very warm water for about 30 seconds, maybe a little longer. It cannot be boiling water, because too high temperature will bend the figures, but also not “lukewarm” water. The heated resin becomes much more flexible, thanks to which we reduce the risk of any cracking. Then it will be much easier and safer to cut off the brackets.
  2. Figures, and especially places where there are supports, should be heated with a dryer. Thanks to this, we will achieve the same effect as with hot water.
  3. In addition, we will need modeling pliers for processing. A scalpel can also be used, but it creates more stress and is more risky.

The miniatures you receive are washed with special liquids (IPA – isopropanol and others) and a second time with water in an ultrasonic cleaner, and then hardened under a UV lamp. However, it may happen that small impurities will remain on them, when you see them, wash them gently in warm water with soap. Once dry, this will provide better adhesion to the paint. However, these are extremely rare cases – normally, you can immediately apply primer to the figures you take out of the packaging.

The whole process is analogous to cleaning and processing glyphs in the case of metal miniatures – there are practically no glyphs in printed miniatures, but we have to cut the supports. The reward for our efforts, however, is a beautiful miniature, with great level of detail on this scale, which together with many of your companions will create your great army!

We hope that with this text we have dispelled your questions and doubts about these types of models. Have fun painting!

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