I had seen a few 3d Settlers of Catan Boards. Really cool looking ones ranging in price from $200 to a whopping $1399.00 on Amazon. I started researching and discovered 3d printing for the first time. Still however a complete 3d printed board with minimum 52 hex pieces plus player pieces and not owning my own machine was going to still be around $400+ printed a third party. (sorry but that a bit pricey and there is no way the wife would approve). I figure I am roughly $200 into this project for a complete 5/6 player board. I have extra silicone to make more pieces when I wish and enough gypsum to expand my board greatly.
Step 1: 3D Printing Your Main Pieces
I first started with researching the pieces I wanted. There are a ton of open licenced, free to use files for Catan pieces at thingverse.com. I decided on a great design by JAWong found here (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:26979).
Next I found 3DHubs.com Great site, easy to navigate (Shameless butt kissing I know). There I connected with Liam and Issaac at Bulid_up's Hub in Vancouver. You can find them here https://www.3dhubs.com/users/build_up. They made me these little beauties. They turned out perfectly. I did however make one of those good mistakes. I did not notice they were so thin when I sent the file in for printing. This turns out to be in my favor later as you will see.
Step 2: Making the Molds
From there I used a product called mold Max 30. It is a semi firm silicone mold product. Easy to use. I set out my 3D prints in a short frame to hold the liquid silicone while it dried. This is where being to thin was good. I wanted the bases thicker so I carefully built the 3d Prints up with a firm clay. Making sure they were all uniform height. This not only saved a bit of cost in the printing but it also created a tight seal around the base so little silicone seeped under the print.
- Pour the silicone in from the lowest point. This will prevent air pockets forming.
- Gently tap the mold so any air pockets that might have developed rise to the top. pop with a sharp object.
- Use a mirror or clean glass something small you can pick up as a surface to make the mold.
- Use clay or putty around the base of the mold to prevent leaking.
Step 3: Casting the Pieces
I looked into resin to cast in. This was very expensive and very hard to work with. It sets very fast and I wasted a lot for little gain. I finally decided on a Gypsum product call Drystone. I also used a product from the same company called Hydrostone. Over all so far they seem the same. Due to availability I am using the Hydrostone. It is around $40.00 Canadian for a 50 lb bag. More than enough to make yourself a board and a set for a couple friends. Or just an epic Catan Board.
*** The gypsum sets in about an hour and can be taken out of the mold. Another full day to completely cure. Use sand paper to shave off any burrs or imperfections. I use 3 different grades and work from roughest to smoothest. Now they are ready to paint.
Step 4: Painting the Pieces
I found that a basic set of acrylic paint from Walmart work just fine for painting. A knowledgeable artist might choose better paints. I am not an artist by any means so this was the hardest part. Though I found the process very relaxing. Almost Zen.
This part is entirely up to you in as far as what colors you use. Just buy a set of paintbrushes and go at it.
A few tips....
- Mix enough of one color paint so you have enough for all the pieces you need so it looks uniform.
- Use a mate or gloss finish after the paint has completely dried. matter of taste which one you hoose but this step is important as the pieces are handled a fair bit so this will protect them.
I hope you enjoyed this instructable. If you like playing Catan make yourself a 3D board. If you have never played, you should. I guarantee you know someone who has a board.