Full-Color 3D Printing Is Here Now
I have 2 videos here that every GW hobbiest needs to see.
First, watch this video. Skip to the end to see the miniatures.
Then watch this:
Now ask yourself, is Games Workshop prepared for a world where it's factories, warehouses, and even it's stores become largely obsolete? Where every hobbyist can print their own minis at home or order them over the internet from any supplier they want, using files they scanned, modified, and/or traded?
The 5-axis machining tech is pretty new, but the plastic printing tech has been around in various forms since the early 90's when I was in school. I still have a couple of samples from those days. The plastic printing machines used to cost $4,000,000 and were only used by large companies like Ford and GM to prototype car parts. Since then I've watched a zero drop every couple of years until now you can buy them for just $40,000. The first $4,000 machines will be here soon.
Indiana University has a full-color 3D printer, and they've offered me a free test print which I intend to take them up on as soon as I come up with a good tank model to use. The current cost for printing a Leman Russ through them would be about $200. Drop a zero from that two years from now and GW will have a real hard time shifting model kits.
Once this goes mainstream, you'll see GW models scanned and uploaded onto the net just like music and video is now. You'll also see brand new models made by fans that infringe on GW's IP and that get traded via P2P networks. As well as works that combine GW models with fan-made modifications.
Pre-Heresey Marines? Sure!
New Thunderwolves? Absolutely!
Parts to convert a Valk to a Stormraven? Yep!
So, just like the music and recording industries, the plastic model and miniatures industries are going to have to adapt to the new digital world.
The question then is, will GW embrace this new tech and provide quality digital files for printing/converting, or will it do what the RIAA has done and try to hide behind it's lawyers? At first, their kits and minis will have a quality advantage over the grainier prints. But eventually the quality will improve to the point where GW won't be able to sell much beyond rulebooks and fiction. Viewed on an iPad, of course.