26 October 2019

And They Say that 3D Printing is not for the Faint Hearted!

A couple of weeks ago, I recieved my first 3D Printer. I had been thinking about a purchase for some time. I am mostly interested in printing terrain and some AFV's. I was particularly unhappy with getting buildings for 20 mm wargaming which were all over the scale map. Italeri and 4-Ground are nice buildings but I find them a little overscale. I think the 20mm Sarissa Precision are a perfect size, and they are priced right but I have found MDF buildings a little brittle for transporting around. I hvae recently been gaming in Montreal with P-Y who has a lot of great looking 28mm 3D printed terrain. This does seem the ideal solution, you can tweak the size and then print out a perfect scaled building.

So what to get; the big boys seem all in for Prusa printers but I have to say the Lair of the Uber Geek's description of taking 2 days to assemble one sort of put me off (sorry Miles). I am just too impatient for screwing around with stuff. One of my colleagues at work got a Creality 10S and he had actually a very easy time of it and it was half the price. I got him to print an ACW building for me and it was just perfect so I went ahead and purchased it on Amazon. 

Two days later a big box arrived and there it was. Really beautifully packed. I found an excellent assembly video on line and I would say I had it up and running in 2 hours. It came with a small spool of white PLA and before I knew it I had printed my first building. It really came out perfectly, wow I said this is great!

I had bought a couple of STL file packets from Najewitz Modellbau, one of their Normandy packs annd an ACW pack so I had a lot to go on with. These are really excellent files and the first Normandy building I printed was perfectly in scale with my Sarrisa models without any tweaking so I was quite happy................but I had run out of PLA.

I wanted a grey PLA but when I went to order some on Amazon I saw some nice brown PLA and I thought this would be a great starting colour for wooden buildings so I ordered a roll. The usual Amazon excellent service delivered the package the next day so I loaded it up and started the printer. I have to admit that I did notice it felt a little different than the white PLA but I am a complete novice who as I have just previously described as being impatient.

Well something seemed to be wrong, things would print but I had a lot of problems with adhesion to the build plate and the models appeared to grow hair. I would set up a print and the next morning I would find the printer stopped with the building only half done. WTF!

I had a closer look and discovered that I had acually bought a combo wood particle-PLA product. Pulled it out and ordered another reel of rea PLA. It would print but I was still having a lot of problems. I leveled and releveled, tried different adhesives, figured out how to change bed and nozzle temperatures, found out about temperature towers.......nothing seemed to work. I was now becoming increasingly frustrated. This went on for a couple of days, what to do?

It was now starting to dawn on me that the problem appeared to be that the stuff was just not coming out right. I could improve things by changing temperatures or slowing the build rate but it just did not seem right. Maybe the nozzle was screwed up? I had another search on the internet, found that it was really a piece a cake to change out a nozzle and amazingly enough the printer had come with an extra nozzle. 

I pulled out the old nozzle and it was completely bunged up, I could not even clean it, how it was extruding any PLA at all was amazing. I changed out the nozzle, loaded some PLA into the extruder and I have now gone through a 1.5kg of PLA in a week with the printer going 24 hours a day pumping out perfect models.

Well I have learned a lot in the last couple of weeks. I discovered that when using wood/PLA combinations you need to use a larger nozzle than the 0.4mm one that is standard. I learned that a glue stick is the best adhesive and once applied 3-4 times you are all done for several prints.

I think I have printed out maybe 6-8 buildings without any problems, the scale is great for 20mm wargaming and they match well what I have. They are all in various stages of being painted and I will post some photos soon.

So I am quite happy with my Creality 10S, it is an excellent device, it is easy to keep going once you do a bit of research, the Crusa Slicer software is quite intuative. I have printed my first building at a lower resolution as I was anxious to see what it could do. I will now starting printing at better resolutions as I believe I now understand the whole process much better.Maybe time to print some tanks.


  1. John, Welcome to the world of third printing. I own a Ender 3 and CR-10 . I have done a few mods to the CR-10. The key to getting good prints is the mods to the splicer program. Join the CR-10 facebook group a lot of good info there. Here is my blog on 3d printing, https://gary-oldsargeswargameandmodelblog.blogspot.com/search/label/3d%20printing

    1. Thanks Gary, finally getting a chance to have a look at your blog, very helpful. I have already joined the fcaebook account.

  2. I was hoping to see a few pics of the buildings?

  3. Interesting. A 3D printer is something I'm thinking of getting when funds permit. Thanks for sharing the trials and tribulations involved with setting one up.

  4. Riding the crest of the future John, well done and an honest review. Looking forward to seeing some pictures.

  5. Hi there John, very interested to read of your entry into the world of 3D printing and it's potential. I too am thinking about investing in a printer once I am back in the UK. For me the exciting thing is the potential to produce bespoke 40mm Napoleonic figures. You might possibly have seen this but Ian Smith and I have commissioned a 5 figure Royal Horse Artillery gun crew from Dan at Digital Sculpts and I am astonished at the print quality, so good that we will use the resin prints for our gun crews. What an amazing technology! Looking forward to reading more and seeing some pictures.


  6. Looking forward to seeing the results

  7. A 3D printer will never be for me, but I salute those who can figure it out! Great work John.

  8. Congratulations on taking the plunge! I have been far too chicken to do so myself thus far. :-)