An upturned 3D printer build plate, showing a batch of 60 studded Space Marine shoulder pads, in the style of Mk 6 marines from the Horus Heresy: Age of Darkness boxset. They have been printed in a dark grey resin

Added supports to an STL I wanted to print for the first time. It even printed out fine… eventually. The first attempt came out as a near solid brick of resin, and required a very messy cleaning out of the resin vat, to remove parts that had stuck to the bottom. It was just a tiny, very simple thing – a space marine shoulder pad – but: yay! I finally did it!


For those unfamiliar with (resin) 3D printing: because 3D printing is done layer-by-layer, and resin printers essentially work upside-down, most models require some form of supports added to the model before it will print OK in a resin printer. These act as scaffolding holding an area of the model being in place while any surrounding geometry is cured, preventing “islands” (areas of a model not connected to the rest of the model on that layer) from sticking to the bottom of the resin vat when the build plate is raised. Resin stuck to the bottom of the vat is a very bad thing – 1, your model will be incomplete, if it prints at all, and 2, it can lead to a broken printer. So: supports are important! See below for an example of an excellent, professionally supported model:

A professionally supported commercial STL file, ready to print

I’ve been putting off trying to support models by myself; mistakes take a long time to discover and a massive pain to clean up. Most commercial models come “pre-supported” – a professional has already done the work. But I still have plenty models in my library which are by hobbyists and come unsupported; if I want to print those, I have to learn how to do it, so I’m going to have try. I watched a couple of videos on YouTube to get an idea of what I need to do, then just gave it a shot in Lychee, checking the output in UVTools regularly to make sure I hadn’t missed any unsupported islands.

Despite this checking, and creating a supposedly perfect setup, my first print failed. Badly. I think it was because I didn’t raise the model up high enough from the raft, which combined with the suction force created by the type of raft I chose, compounded three problems – partial peeling away from the build plate, deformation caused by too few supports, and close-together parts fusing together when exposed (in this case the raft, supports, and model). Like I said, it came out like a solid block with bumps where the tops of the pads should be, after 1h 45 minutes in the printer. Much swearing, and spending my lunch break cleaning things up followed.

Going back to the drawing board: I raised the model up, added lots more – but thinner – supports (probably more than I needed), and changed the raft type to one which wouldn’t act like a suction cup. 2h 19 minutes later and I had a very successful print!

An upturned 3D printer build plate, showing a batch of 60 studded Space Marine shoulder pads, in the style of Mk 6  marines from the Horus Heresy: Age of Darkness boxset. They have been printed in a dark grey resin
An amateurly supported STL file, printed 60 times

I posted a short while ago about my first prototype “MagPuck” base magnetising jig, and how I had some ideas to improve it. Well, I have v2 completed, and have been testing it out over the last week or so, and I love it (mostly – there are some bits that need refined still)

V2 moves away from the solid block, and instead uses 3 plates layered on top of each other. These are secured using M3 bolts. The bottom layer is the base plate, and is for support. The middle layer holds the alignment magnet(s), and comes in 3 configurations: single, double, or quad magnets. The top layer holds the base in place, and there are plates for bases sized from 25mm right up to 50mm.

v2 plus additional plates

Using the MagPuck is really simple: drop in the base, apply glue roughly where the magnets are on the 2nd layer, drop in your basing magnets, optionally apply some activator, then pop the base out – then repeat. I can now magnetise 10 25mm bases in just a couple of minutes – significantly faster, and with much less fuss and mess than before. Here’s a short demonstration video:

So what could still be better? Well, getting the base out is still a little tricky; I’ve added the small indent to make this easier, but the magnet in the base and the magnet in the jig are naturally pulling towards each other, so it needs more force than I’d like. Not much, but I have sent a base flying off my table more than once! V1 had sloping sides that made this easier, but that limited base support to just GW bases, and was more fiddly to get everything modelled correctly, so is less than ideal. Perhaps making the indent wider an/or deeper will solve the problem?

A 3D printed prototype of my 'MagPuck' jig for adding magnets beneath wargaming bases. It is a grey plastic block with a recess for a base. At the bottom of the recess is a further recess which holds a 6mm x 2mm magnet. A small area has been carved away at the edge of the base recess to allow for levering the base out

One of the things I hoped to do when I bought my FDM 3D printer was to use it to solve small problems I was having. Today I designed and printed my first prototype. It’s not much to look at, but it is just the first iteration!

Glueing small magnets under the bases of miniatures is a common job I have to do, as it’s useful for storage, transportation, and adding some weight. Unfortunately, it’s a job that can be unnecessarily fiddly and messy. Getting the magnet to stay in place while the glue dries is a pain. Recently I hit upon a trick of using a magnet on the other side of the base to help with this issue, but making sure everything was in the right place could be made easier.

Enter what I’m nicknaming the “MagPuck” – a simple jig that will align a base with a magnet that ensures that the base magnet is held perfectly centred while glue dries. It’s simple but effective – with the prototype I was able to magnetise a batch of ten bases in just a minute or two.

No first attempt is perfect though – no doubt you’ve noticed where I had to carve out an indentation to let me lever out the base. The next iteration will have that built-in. Another change will be to make the MagPuck modular, so as to make it more efficient to print, while supporting multiple base sizes and magnet configuration. Below is a sneak peek at the next iteration, which I’ll be printing out as soon as the printer finishes some terrain I kicked off before I’d had my ideas on how to improve on the prototype.