29 Jan DIY: Custom Kingdom Death: Monster Gear Grids
The gear grids included in the Kingdom Death: Monster core game are without a doubt, very beautiful printed pieces of art. However, there are quite a few reasons why one would feel inclined to search for a better alternative.
They are fragile. All it would take is one bad spill or misplaced foot to ruin the gear grid.
They take up a lot of space. The table I use for boardgames is rather small, and while the errata on the side of the grid is a useful reference in the beginning, it quickly becomes wasted space after a few play sessions.
They do not secure the gear cards. I don’t know how many times I’ve accidentally nudged or dropped my gear grid, forcing me to spend precious KDM play time picking them up and carefully arranging them back onto the grid.
Thankfully, /u/CupcakeMcGraw shared his own solution on the KDM subreddit, which came in the form of custom 3D printed gear grids. After seeing his build, I knew that I needed to make some of them for myself.
The first step was to draw up the design for the 3D printer, so I hopped onto Autocad and quickly whipped up a card tray design that was somewhat similar to his, but without the extra space for tokens:
I didn’t own a 3D printer, so my next step was to find a place to have my design printed. I had suspected that the cost of the print would be substantial due to the size of the tray, but the prices quoted by local printers were astronomical. Fortunately, I was able to find a printer based in SF through 3DHubs that offered to print the tray for a reasonable price, so I sent the design off to him, and received a nice box in the mail from him 3 days later. The tray came out perfectly, and the printer even gave it a light sanding before packing it up:
I could have just had him print four copies of the tray and been done with it, but I kind of wanted to eat something other then instant ramen for the next month so I decided that the most economical route for me to take would be to create my own resin copies of the tray.
The first step to creating resin copies was to make the mold, so I picked up some of Smooth-On’s OOMOO Silicon Rubber Mold Compound off Amazon. It’s a little pricey, but I highly recommend it due to how easy it is to use, and how well it preserves detail in the mold.
Making the mold was literally just mixing a 1:1 ratio of part A and B of the OOMOO compound in a bowl, then pouring it over the tray which was placed in a large teflon coated pan. I used a pan mainly because I didn’t have any other container on hand large enough to comfortably fit the tray (Smooth-On recommends a minimum of 1/2″ between object and edge of container), but it turned out to be a great idea as the non-stick nature of the pan made it a breeze to cleanly remove the finished mold.
After the mold was cured I started to prep my resin mix. I opted for Alumilite’s casting resin, also purchased on Amazon, mostly due to is glowing reviews by a number of satisfied customers, but I’m sure that any casting resin would suffice. Similar to the mold compound, the resin is activated by mixing part A with part B. Once the two parts are thoroughly mixed together, a chemical reaction occurs which causes the mixture to rapidly harden (solid within 5 minutes). Due to the exothermic nature of the reaction, the resin gets HOT, so be careful to avoid coming into contact with it at this point. The resin needs to be poured into the mold very quickly to allow it some time to level out and fill all of the gaps before it thickens too much.
As you can see in the above picture, the resin starts to haze over and turn white as it hardens. The resin in the right mold was poured about 1 minute before the picture was taken, while the resin in the left mold was poured about 2 minutes before the picture. Once the resin is completely white, it has solidified. However, it is still quite pliable and should be left in the mold for at least another 30 min or so before removing it to prevent warping the tray or damaging the mold.
Once the resin has been allowed ample time to cure, it can be removed from the mold by gently working way the edges until it releases from the mold. The tray probably feels quite greasy at this point and should be washed with dish soap to remove any residue. Lastly, the edges of the tray should be given a wet sand to smooth out any of the uneven surfaces.
The process isn’t by any means difficult, but does require a substantial investment of time and quite a bit of money to print the prototype and purchase all of the materials. Because of this (and because I have a ton of resin left over), I’ve decided to do a small production run to make trays for people that would like to have them, but don’t have the time and/or don’t want to spend the money to DIY them. The trays can be purchased from my shop (limit 1 set of 4 per customer) which is accessed via the top menu. Stock is quite limited at the moment, but if there is enough interest I am open to starting a second production run. If there are no trays available in the store, feel free to contact me to be put on the waitlist, which will be fulfilled on a first come first serve basis.
I will also upload the CAD file on Thingiverse within a few days for those that would like to print the trays on their own. Check back here in a few days for the link.
Update – Link to file here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1310193