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New Mimaki 3DUJ-553 printer and the end of the hobby.


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Can we just add this one as the latest in the long line of "the hobby is doomed" predictions?

For a "doomed hobby", it's never been so vibrant and healthy with, an ever increasing range of models and ancillary products we could only dream of years back.

The hobby is dead! Long live the hobby.

 

John

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I think I managed to conflate the two separate points I was trying to make in my last post.

 

Im not trying to compare production costs of injection moulding with a photorealistic one piece product because I don’t think they serve the same market. Sure, we might lose a few for whom the goal is a perfect display item but I think that’s a small proportion of the modern hobby compared to years ago. The rest of us will probably spend a bit of our hobby budget on one or two or maybe more of these as a separate thing, but (and I could be wrong) I don’t think I’ll take a look at what I get and quit building models in despair at ever matching the end product (to quote Mrs Doyle, some of us like the misery).

 

the far greater threat to the hobby is the shrinking user base. Despite a short term boost from lockdown the trend is all one way as very few kids pick the hobby up at entry level anymore. If it’s to survive the industry needs to be able to economically produce high quality kits at smaller, possibly much smaller volumes, and I believe traditional technology production costs are already as low as they’ll get.

 

3d printing technology offers an escape route to that dilemma. So long story short I think the hobby will gain more on the swings than it loses on the roundabouts. 

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Until a machine is produced that is the size of decent home laser printer, costs around the same and produces models or their constituent parts to the same level of fidelity as those currently produced by Eduard (Spitfires and accompanying resin), Tamiya (F-14), Minibase (Su-33) and Bandai (their 1/72 PG Falcon in particular) ‘and’ in a material that is the same or equivalent to injection moulded styrene (due to the material properties) then its business as usual. 

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I like what they've done, and I can see it having its uses, like if you could buy a set of wheels for an aircraft with the hubs and tyres already in colour*, or cockpit details, or somesuch, but I like painting bits of plastic and sticking them together myself; buying a model already assembled and printed in colour seems a bit like buying a jigsaw** that has already been put together for you, it sort of defeats the object I think :hmmm:Just because it can be done, it doesn't mean we will all have no choice but to do it :) 

 

Cheers,

 

Stew

 

* But there would be arguments about the correct colour of the wheel hubs and tyres of course :D 

** I imagine, I don't do jigsaws 

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3 hours ago, Beermonster1958 said:

Can we just add this one as the latest in the long line of "the hobby is doomed" predictions?

For a "doomed hobby", it's never been so vibrant and healthy with, an ever increasing range of models and ancillary products we could only dream of years back.

The hobby is dead! Long live the hobby.

 

John

Or practised by fewer people, which is the real cause for concern.

 

Not sure about this new technology, but leaning towards thinking that it may have little effect in the end because it's unlikely to poach the sort of people who buy kits, only those (as others have also said here) who collect models but don't build. I like the suggestion of making pre-coloured pilots and the like available since there are still builders who use them and aren't happy with their figure painting skills. You're not being forced to purchase at gunpoint, after all, which also applies to all the existing aftermarket, most of which I can understand if people want to use but personally leaves me cold except where the item offered is something I can't do well emough (PE or 3d printed fretted gun jackets, for instance, and the odd pre-painted seatbelt).

 

Paul.

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I think I managed to conflate the two separate points I was trying to make in my last post.

 

Im not trying to compare production costs of injection moulding with a photorealistic one piece product because I don’t think they serve the same market. Sure, we might lose a few for whom the goal is a perfect display item but I think that’s a small proportion of the modern hobby compared to years ago. The rest of us will probably spend a bit of our hobby budget on one or two or maybe more of these as a separate thing, but (and I could be wrong) I don’t think I’ll take a look at what I get and quit building models in despair at ever matching the end product (to quote Mrs Doyle, some of us like the misery).

 

the far greater threat to the hobby is the shrinking user base. Despite a short term boost from lockdown the trend is all one way as very few kids pick the hobby up at entry level anymore. If it’s to survive the industry needs to be able to economically produce high quality kits at smaller, possibly much smaller volumes, and I believe traditional technology production costs are already as low as they’ll get.

 

3d printing technology offers an escape route to that dilemma. So long story short I think the hobby will gain more on the swings than it loses on the roundabouts. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Stew Dapple said:

 I can see it having its uses, like if you could buy a set of wheels for an aircraft with the hubs and tyres already in colour

let me pre-emptively save you some money

spacer.png

 

36 minutes ago, Paul Thompson said:

Or practised by fewer people, which is the real cause for concern.

 

Not sure about this new technology, but leaning towards thinking that it may have little effect in the end because it's unlikely to poach the sort of people who buy kits, only those (as others have also said here) who collect models but don't build. I like the suggestion of making pre-coloured pilots and the like available since there are still builders who use them and aren't happy with their figure painting skills.

 

That kind of shows it is doomed then, because like you say people want pilot figures but don't like their figure painting skills, so instead of persevering and sweating and putting in all that effort to learn that skill, they'll buy the pre coloured figures. Now compare that to a kid looking at modelling now, its exact same situation but for EVERY skill, so if theyre starting now do you think they are going to elect to voluntarily put in countless hours learning everything and failing and restarting etc etc. to maybe one day after 1000s of hours end up with all the skills to make something that isnt even as good as the printed one? When veteran modellers cant even resist buying pre painted figures, pre done cockpits, pre done wheels (and in actuality completely pre done builds in many cases)?  Right now just messing around with 3D printing this and that is a bigger hobby than scale modelling, and thats without the photo realistic replica element that is now here. 

 

Really the skill of the hobby is in painting, thats the part the was irreplaceable, as someone pointed out earlier, construction was somewhat impoverished when injection moulding came out in the 50s, everything can be made obsolete as long as the painting part is still there, but now thats gone too.  In terms of keeping traditional stuff going,  the lack of a reason to tool new kits isn't even going to the biggest problem, there's no way the golden era of paints and consumables were in now can continue, its doubly confounded by the fact that weve benefitted by accident by warhammer and tabletop gaming/figure painting absolute skyrocketing in recent years, and the gundam kits, which is floating alot of the paints and consumable manufacturers.  With this coming in, both those are taken out the equation, I guarantee almost everyone that does warhammer will switch over to selecting colours on the computer and sending them to print, people have been wishing for that since I was a little kid, and for a lot of people painting is just a chore you have to get through in service of playing the game, so thats a bigger proportion of model paint buyers than us taken out of the market.  Thats not going to be a world that has one boutique tier Spanish expert paint manufacturer let alone three competing with each other in one country.

Edited by Stringbug
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5 minutes ago, Stringbug said:

let me pre-emptively save you some money

 

 

 

That kind of shows it is doomed then, because like you say people want pilot figures but don't like their figure painting skills, so instead of persevering and sweating and putting in all that effort to learn that skill, they'll buy the pre coloured figures. Now compare that to a kid looking at modelling now, its exact same situation but for EVERY skill, so if theyre starting now do you think they are going to elect to voluntarily put in countless hours learning everything and failing and restarting etc etc. to maybe one day after 1000s of hours end up with all the skills to make something that isnt even as good as the printed one? When veteran modellers cant even resist buying pre painted figures, pre done cockpits, pre done wheels (and in actuality completely pre done builds in many cases)?  Right now just messing around with 3D printing this and that is a bigger hobby than scale modelling, and thats without the photo realistic replica element that is now here. 

I wasn't clear enough, I'm not talking about those who haven't yet learned, but being at the other end of the spectrum I meant those of us who can no longer achieve the results we could, due to failing eyesight and increasingly shaky hands. When it comes to taking the shortcuts  enabled by the aftermarket, I confess to occassionaly getting old-fogeyish about those who came along after the balsa, dope and talc era, but then where do you draw the line? I'm sure some people will have been unhappy with the advent of Airmodel vac conversion parts, or later, with Aeroclub white metal accessories, but now they're regarded as traditional elder things and I wouldn't want to be without them. The trouble when something new comes along that has potential to do harm is that you don't know where it will end, but I don't think it has to end badly every time.

 

As to younger potential modellers not wanting to make an effort because the older bunch are visibly not doing so, I don't think it works like that. Lack of recruitment is down to many factors. The world is a completely different place to when I was a teenager fifty years ago, and the recreational opportunities (right or wrong) available to that age group are immensely greater than back then. Plus, those with a yen for gluing things together nowadays have a wide range of pre-coloured stuff already in the shape of Gundam and the like from the Far East, where the hobby is still a large and normal part of many peoples lives, and quick-build items from Airfix and Revell, for example.

 

Paul.

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3 minutes ago, Paul Thompson said:

The world is a completely different place to when I was a teenager fifty years ago,

I was a teenager less than ten years ago and the world is a completely different place to me too, so its acceleration in the wrong direction is definitely exponential.

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44 minutes ago, Stringbug said:

Really the skill of the hobby is in painting, thats the part the was irreplaceable, as someone pointed out earlier, construction was somewhat impoverished when injection moulding came out in the 50s, everything can be made obsolete as long as the painting part is still there, but now thats gone too. 

 

I really have to disagree: for me, scratch-building parts and detailing existing ones is where a lot of skill is involved; equally as much as painting. In fact there are an awful lot of assumption-type statements in this thread being turned into "fact": I for one I rarely make injection plastic kits as a start. Next up is the assumption that we all model to get a completed product. Most of mine go in a box when they are finished and I don't need to see them again. As a number of others have said, many folks (myself included) model for the journey, not the destination, so a 3D-printer will never replace that. It also doesn't jeopardise the aftermarket - I can easily buy a 3D-printed part and paint it myself if I want it to be 'my' work.

 

And then the statement about painting, "...now that's gone too". A bit melodramatic I think? Last time I looked, a large UK-based model shop had thousands of kits in various media for sale. All of those will need painting, if we so desire. So it might be "gone" for some, but even if every kit manufacturer in the World stops manufacturing today (a ridiculous thing to have to say), it will take decades to exhaust the existing supply. Then there's the stash too.

 

Then I'll go back to scratch-building. That'll be in about 300 years' time...

 

So let's chill out, grab some resin (other media are available) and get modelling. And stop worrying about something that doesn't exist!

Edited by Sabrejet
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Paul, even in the balsa and dope era there were companies producing aftermarket canopies, propellers, wheels etc.  In 1962, I think it was, a teacher brought in a large box of assorted bits and bobs from (presumably) his earlier modelling days, and after the initial interest had died down I was the only one interested enough to keep any of the parts - although how many ever I used is another matter!  I don't recall that Aeroclub was any great shock or unwelcome to anyone, quite the contrary, and the main problem with Airmodel was the sheer crudity of the subjects. 

 

If anything, the one thing that makes me go all old fogey is the reluctance of those who refuse to move outside of the mass-production box.  "Oh, I don't do vacforms/resins/conversions/improvements/changes to the kit provided." and "If it doesn't fit perfectly it goes straight into the bin."  "This is unmakeable because it has raised panel lines and rivets." "This kit is unacceptably crude because it lacks the correct supports for the rudder pedals."  And, perhaps more relevant in this thread, "This idea will change modelling forever and all the old ways will disappear."

 

Yeah.  And there are late-model Spitfires buried on an airfield in Burma.

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18 hours ago, Stringbug said:

 

You don't need to own a printer to use it though, and I'm talking about the general projection of where things are going to go, look at how SLA printing went from being prohibitively expensive to cheap and widely adopted in only a few years, extrapolate out what the means for the traditional paint skills of the hobby a few years from now, a lot of the passion and magic of doing this stuff comes from the fact it couldn't be made any other way than with pure skill, when photoreal scale models become a commonplace item that's just being printed off like we would print off a jpeg?...I don't know maybe it's just me but I think its really sad.  I'm sure portrait painters felt the same way when colour film was being introduced.  As for the first post, I don't talk on any forums but after seeing this its been depressing me for a few days,  I just wondered if anyone here has any different take on this thing or something a I hadn't thought of.  Maybe I shouldn't care but scale modelling is one of the only things I find enjoyable and I'm not that old, so its a sad feeling that this is the way things are going to go from now on.

Vinyl records made a big comeback after both CDs (yeuch) and downloaded music became 'the norm'.  The building and painting processes are what many people enjoy the most about the hobby, otherwise everyone would just buy Corgi die-casts. 

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38 minutes ago, Stringbug said:

I was a teenager less than ten years ago and the world is a completely different place to me too,

 

Quite different indeed, but that's part of life. The only permanent thing is change. 

 

Quote

so its acceleration in the wrong direction is definitely exponential.

I think we have enough to worry about in the daily doings, let's take tools like these printers as opportunity and look on the bright side. 

If $vendor wishes to use one of these to produce various facsimiles of subjects, there will still be people who prefer Bader to Galland - or want the R-1830-S3C4-G instead of the R-1830-35 because it has a different supercharger. 

Good, that means choice. 

 

 

I also don't agree with your remark about painting being 'the real skill of the hobby'.  Dodgy seams and steps are still a dodgy seam & step, no matter how many layers of paint you throw against it. 

Besides, painting is the exact bit that is entirely an expression of the individual's preference.

We still have artists, people still write, sing, play instruments, build a garden shed, plant flowers... in general: being creative. As that is human nature. 

 

 

 

 

 

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18 hours ago, Stringbug said:

people do still paint after the advent of the camera, but people don't bother with "old masters" skills of painting absolute photoreal oil paintings, that end of up just looking like a photograph that someone could make with no effort.  Painting became less realistic and more expressionistic as a consequence of photography. 

Well that is simply not the case - there are still many photo-realistic artists today, many of them using Photoshop rather than paint, but artists nonetheless who for whatever reason were not happy with photography. As someone who has practiced both painting and photography they require a completely different mind set and approach. To say photorealistic art was replaced by photography is like saying oranges replaced apples because their both fruit.

 

As to printed models - they will only ever be as good as the research, and of course this is the expensive bit because it takes time. They will be full of mistakes and omissions just like nearly every kit produced - but will be much harder to put right without changing the design and reprinting.

 

To me this is just an extension of the existing parts market. I'll use it where it adds a dimension I want and can't add myself, or where it replaces a task I don't enjoy. But I'll never buy a complete model because that has no value to me. I make things because I want to make things, not because I have to. To miss this point is to ignore the global success of Lego - do you imagine people wanting to buy printed versions of completed Lego models?

 

Cheers

 

Colin

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35 minutes ago, Graham Boak said:

Paul, even in the balsa and dope era there were companies producing aftermarket canopies, propellers, wheels etc.  In 1962, I think it was, a teacher brought in a large box of assorted bits and bobs from (presumably) his earlier modelling days, and after the initial interest had died down I was the only one interested enough to keep any of the parts - although how many ever I used is another matter!  I don't recall that Aeroclub was any great shock or unwelcome to anyone, quite the contrary, and the main problem with Airmodel was the sheer crudity of the subjects. 

 

I know, was over-simplifying for brevity, I waffle on enough as it is. You're also right about Aeroclub, thinking about it, so, bad example. I did read some 'can't you even build an ejector seat?' magazine opinion way back, but even then it was piffle, if not balderdash.

 

 

35 minutes ago, Graham Boak said:

 

If anything, the one thing that makes me go all old fogey is the reluctance of those who refuse to move outside of the mass-production box.  "Oh, I don't do vacforms/resins/conversions/improvements/changes to the kit provided." and "If it doesn't fit perfectly it goes straight into the bin."  "This is unmakeable because it has raised panel lines and rivets." "This kit is unacceptably crude because it lacks the correct supports for the rudder pedals."  And, perhaps more relevant in this thread, "This idea will change modelling forever and all the old ways will disappear."

 

100% in agreement. Not dissing the original poster, he has as much right to worry about something as I have not to and may even be righter than me, but a thread like this does focus the mind a bit on something I'd have otherwise let slip by.

 

Anyway, I got to say 'piffle' and 'balderdash', which is a first for me.

 

Paul.

 

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I wonder how long these items will stay good; fading, delaminating, warping.  But great for AM and replacement parts for OOP kits.

 

Tony 

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21 hours ago, Stringbug said:

but people don't bother with "old masters" skills of painting absolute photoreal oil paintings, that end of up just looking like a photograph that someone could make with no effort.  Painting became less realistic and more expressionistic as a consequence of photography

 

Seriously...

 

 

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Manufacturers spend a huge amount of money on a model kit design, I'm not mentionning the decal designs which take a little time too but less than the concept design. Drawing pieces in Photo Ekcht also take time. All this process requires time and especially know-how. Yes it is possible to design a unique model with a 3d printer today, but you have to do lots of drawings and I don't think our work is really simplified. Before we already saw the masterpieces in scratch without any 3d printing.

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1 minute ago, salomon said:

Manufacturers spend a huge amount of money on a model kit design, I'm not mentionning the decal designs which take a little time too but less than the concept design. Drawing pieces in Photo Ekcht also take time. All this process requires time and especially know-how.

 

 This is true. A decent design is not only about good representation of shapes and details, but also about knowing how to divide the elements sensibly, how they are to be connected, how loads will be transferred between them, how to maintain the geometry, and finally how to ease the building process itself.

 

 

1 minute ago, salomon said:

Yes it is possible to design a unique model with a 3d printer today, but you have to do lots of drawings and I don't think our work is really simplified.

 

Very often it is not, because the fact that someone can design a component correctly does not mean that they can make a good model out of many printed components. You can see this with the aftermarket resin kits - some fit the kit parts perfectly, some are a real struggle to install where they should fit.

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20 hours ago, MiG-Mech said:

I would not stop building models from kits, coz the building process is the reason, not the finished model.

The journey is the reward.

 

But that "unlimited" printing of parts give us more posibility for upgrades like weapons, pods, ground support equipment, FOD covers, open panels ... such stuff, that is not available on the market.

 

 

Interesting.  I can see a place for it alongside rather than instead of our hobby.  The idea of being able to reproduce a favourite pet or relative in minature from a photograph has an appeal and given the pricing structure of the equipment I'd imagine it being a supply service rather than a home hobby.  Perhaps costs might come down in future to make it more available to the home user.

 

However I do agree with MIG-Mech above.  I had the same thoughts before I got to his post.  Modellers build not to collect the finished article but to build it themselves.  A collector on the other hand does not want the builders journey and would be attracted to the sort of service above.  Thinking on I never quite understood why folks would pay premium prices for a built model on the likes of E-bay but some clearly do.  Similar thing and similar difference between collector and builder I suspect.

 

22 hours ago, Mike said:

 It's a long time since I've painted anything,

 

 

You know that's exactly what Mrs Mike said when I last spoke to her.  Mind you I think she was referring to the house :wicked::D

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These new printers are pretty amazing, particularly that chain saw operator figure posted above. Like the effect of digital photography on Kodak film and processing, it makes one wonder if injection molding, hobby paints and airbrushing as applied to scale modeling (along with the IPMS) will eventually be all but dead, particularly when all us old guys die off.

 

With all the weird political/ cultural / economic/ technological changes transpiring in the world these days, the last thing I worry about is if color 3D printers will make my stash of kits and hobby supplies and tools redundant. I strive to appreciate that I am living in the golden age of hand assembled and painted scale models (never perfect but a fun hobby most of the time!) and hope to milk it as long as possible. Stay calm and model on!

 

 

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26 minutes ago, JohnT said:

Thinking on I never quite understood why folks would pay premium prices for a built model on the likes of E-bay but some clearly do.

 

The answer is quite simple - they have more money than spare time and/or skills. I can understand them - why waste time on a whole complicated and multi-step process that someone is not interested in, when they only want the final product, of high quality, and they want it immediately.

 

Besides, just look at the aftermarket itself - has the existence of tens of thousands of correction kits, conversion kits, detail kits, PE, resins really destroyed modelling? Whoever wants can still make the whole cockpit interior with his own hands. Who does not have time for that, can buy a resin kit and paint it. And who does not have time even for that, can buy colourful 3D printouts and stick them in the cockpit. In fact, the same modeller can put ready-made aftermarket elements in one kit, thus saving time to make the whole interior from scratch in another kit. Does this also destroy our hobby and skills?

Edited by Piotr Mikolajski
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Whoa!

 

Hold on.

 

Somebody said "printer". If my experiences of having to share a printer at home with Mrs MF in lockdown are representative, I'd say the hobby is safe, for the following reasons:

 

1) You are too busy to design and print your model because you have to re-install the printer driver on your wife's computer three times a week.

2) You are too busy to design and print your model because your wife can't print her sofa and needs it for a meeting tomorrow

3) You are too busy to design and print your model because you are trying to cut up and get rid of the four copies of the sofa that have accidentally been printed at 2x life size

4) Your model comes out in a strange mix of blackish pink because all the cyan and yellow got used up printing four 2x life size green sofas

5) You are too busy to try to print your model again because you are attending marriage guidance counselling

6) You can't print your model because you got divorced and your wife got the printer but she insisted you take the dusty old stash with you

7) You pull out one of your four FROG Wallaces and open a tube of plastic cement

 

None of this is true of course, although 1-4 may (cough, shuffle) have been inspired by 2D real life events. And I hope to get to number 7 soon (without 5 and 6).

 

Regards,

Adrian

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My brother is something in the Heeley Art Club in Sheffield. He takes a fair few digital photos, but it is adjunct to his sketching and painting and he also chairs the selection committee for the Sheffield Art Show. There is  some amazing work and one artist who produces some pretty impressive photo realistic still life's. There is still room for human creativity and imagination even in today's digital world. 

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