How in the world, did I start the rabbit hole of 3D printing? Well the short answer it was a domino of chance. You see I have always been a fan and lover of the fantasy genre and a true gaming geek. However until around 2015 I didn’t realize it was “Cool” to really be proud of your nerd status. I played video games growing up and even started playing Dungeons and Dragons in college. But it wasn’t until I played video games professionally on Twitch which kickstarted my career working as a combat designer in video games did I realize how much MORE there is out there.

The Inspiration

Meeting some of the legendary figures in the fantasy genre and even working with some really opened my eyes to the vast world of my imagination and ways to share it with others. There is something special about sitting around a table and creating a story and world for others to be immersed in. Up until that point I took several years of break from tabletop roleplaying games due moving around for work. Fast forward to August 2018 and my first Gen Con. The opportunity presented itself as my sisters lived in the area and it was the perfect excuse to go ‘visit’. Being there was the spark I needed to rebirth my desire to create and story tell again. I loved seeing all the sprawling terrain tables and even dioramas. There were rooms filled with people showcasing their works and passions. I even remember seeing this one fortress with a monster attacking and guards defending. I was in awe and drooling in desire to make my tabletop experience more tactile and interactive such as those I saw. You see up until this point I used exclusively my standard Chessex mat and dry erase markers. While nothing wrong with it, I decided to try to figure out how to create the things I saw as inspiration. Driven by the goal to one day see and feel the story as much as imagine it.

Fortress attack display gencon 2018
Fortress attack display gencon 2018

The Dilemma

Inspiration is a great thing, it can bring motivation, focus and drive to your goals. However I was missing a few key things to make my goals become a reality.

  1. I didn’t have the money to spend hundreds of dollars on premade terrain.
  2. **I consider myself “Not artistic.** I cannot sculpt, never used foam, nor necessarily have the capability to imagine what I want to create on my own.
  3. I had limited time. Working full time and going back to school again for another degree (Damn overachiever), I did not have the time to devote to a massive undertaking
  4. I had limited space. Not having a massive area to designate as a craft space nor having the tools it felt like my hands were tied.

**Special Note: **While at the time I considered myself not artistic. I have discovered that is not necessarily true. Using this site as a medium I am set out to prove past me wrong and create incredible things**

The Solution

Little did I realize that upon starting a new job a, month prior, for a state university library did it hold the solution. A makerspace. What is a makers space? A makerspace or hackerspace is a community driven area where people with common interests can meet, socialize, and collaborate. In this case the library housed a space for equipment and technology for all students to create and work on projects for research or classes. The featured piece of this space were a series of industrial grade 3D FDM printers the Raise3D printers. There was an entire collection of them at my disposal! I realized that while I didn’t have the creative mind to create nor the time I could utilize 3d printing and spend my time painting and building what I printed. Also since I was using a community space the cost of creating was really reasonable to see if it was indeed a solution for me.

Tennessee Tech makers space of Raise3D printers
Tennessee Tech makers space of Raise3D printers

Speaking to a coworker her husband taught me the basics of 3d printing on an Anet A8 printer and I was off my very first print August 27, 2018. I printed a treasure chest, rather poorly but the feeling at having created something so cool was thrilling. I saw the potential and was hooked. Using the makerspace was the perfect location to start because I was surrounded by other people who were interested in the hobby and right there to help me troubleshoot. However it wasn’t very long before I realized that I wanted to fine tune and tinker with my own printer at home to have more control of each piece’s outcome and quality. I convinced my husband on a Prusa i3 mk3 printer and buying the kit we assembled it together October 8, 2018.

Prusa Mk3 kit laid out
Prusa Mk3 kit laid out

I fell in love with the hobby and the capability to create things while also not being an incredible time sink. The cost of what I was printing was completely variable to me based on where I found the files. Materials were easy to acquire, affordable, and I felt like I was apart of the process rather than just buying a finished piece.  The footprint of my printer was not overly large and time spent creating items helped in my budget calculations. You see my budget revolves around the rule $1 = 1 hour of entertainment. Since things can take hours to print I could easily not break my budget rule.

Fast Forward to Now

I have been in love with the hobby for quite some time now and even plan to make the capability of having your imagination come to life be apart of my kids future and inspiration. While not everyone has the capability to be in a public space to start printing it doesn’t mean you are alone. The process of 3d printing can be intimidating and overwhelming to sift through. I have been dreaming forever about attempting to create a space that will help share my experiences while also helping others to get into the hobby and grow themselves. There is a massive online presence of hobbyists who love to share, teach, and grow with you. Let me help you find them.
As of October 2020 I recently started to jump into a new aspect of 3D printing, resin printing which is a whole new world of excitement. Stay with me as we flush out all the aspects of the hobby.