Will 3D Printing Kill Our Business?
So if you’re follow us on social media, especially on our YouTube Channel then you will be well aware that I have been well and truly bitten by the 3D Printing bug. In November 2020 I purchased an Elegoo Mars 2 Pro resin 3d printer and have been loving it. I have printed out so much that my pile of shame is growing at even a faster rate than usual. I’ve been putting out some videos on our channel to vlog my 3D printing journey and share tips and tricks that I have learned myself along the way and on one video recently I had this reply:
I actually ended up deleting the comment due to how ludicrous it was but it played on my mind for a while. I would have loved to have came back at them with all the reasons why they are so wrong about this but thought it would be better to write an article instead.
Before I talk about my own opinions as to why this isn’t the case, it is important to know that the success of our business relies mostly on that of Games Workshop. If 3D printing doesn’t put Games Workshop out of business then it certainly won’t do that to us either. So the question is then, will 3D printing kill Games Workshop? The short answer is no. Make no mistake about it, there are so many proxy Games Workshop miniatures and parts out there that you can print off yourself and many people are doing that. There are some amazing proxies out there but I personally dislike anyone who blatantly rips off GW stuff. Please try and be more original with your designs! Whilst I haven’t printed off complete miniatures myself I have printed off alternative weapons, heads etc. and even managed to design and print my own custom Space Marine shoulder pads for personal use.
Despite this, you have to realise just how big the Games Workshop customer base is and how much money they are actually making. In January 2021 Games Workshop released financial figures between May and November 2020 which showed sales of £186.8m and profits of £91.6! The company is now valued on the stock market at a whopping £3.8bn! For Games Workshop to disappear as a company you’re going to need hundreds of thousands of people to start printing their own armies. I just cannot ever see it. Of course there may be a financial hit if more and more people get into it but never enough for them to disappear entirely.
Good news for us of course, but what if the commenter meant that people could just print off bits rather than buy from us, yet still buy the full GW kits when needed? Well that’s going to happen too and I’m sure it’s happening now, however with some of the larger quantities people buy from us we can actually ship the parts to them quicker than they can print them. Let’s now also forget that in order to 3D print you still need to drop a few hundred pounds initially on a printer and resin, and then have a well ventilated area of your home to print from. Not everyone has that luxury, and I’m sure there are still many people who are put off by the whole clean up process, the troubleshooting, time and effort of it all. I was one of these people for so long myself!
With all this talk of people printing bits and proxy armies you might be thinking about the legality of all. Well this is another part that makes the likelihood of ourselves and Games Workshop going anywhere soon very unlikely also. Games Workshop are going hard on stl creators who make anything that is clearly a rip off from Games Workshop products. No doubt with their financial resources they will continue to go harder and heavier on people who continue to copy their IP.
I hope this article doesn’t sound like a man trying to convince himself that his business is safe I do believe we have very little to worry about. I see the printing bits and proxy stuff very much like the illegal streaming vs going to the movies, paying for Netflix etc. The majority of people are still honest and making the TV and film industry a lot of money. I think it’s the same here. 3D printing also opens up so many more possibilities too. There’s so many great designer’s now who produce amazing unique miniatures and many of them have merchant programs which allows people like ourselves to print and sell their miniatures. That could well be something we expand into one day in the future.