This topic has sprung from the IP thread, where I said;
I genuinely believe in the near future ~5yrs we will see GW with their own Hero Forge equivalent. I suspect it will be more for Characters, and not for Infantry. You'll be able to design and custom order Chapter Masters, or Lord Celestants for example.
To further clarify, I see this as a premium service, namely for the creation of HQ character models. GW would be printing them, and not selling stl files. The models themselves, probably under the base would have a unique identifier printed for authenticity. As mono-pose characters are $60-$80AU, I would speculate this to be in the $100AU range.
There we're a few specific comments that I think are worth discussing further;
I don’t think something like hero forge really seems to fit with their vision for the models and the rules. Just look at how restrictive the various Primaris captain loadouts are. They very much seem to want you to build exactly what’s in the box, exactly like it’s shown on the box. Creating your own custom heroes goes against that as they won’t even let us build custom ones with the bits they already sell.
Why charge us $80 for 1 multi-kit, when they can charge us $60 each for 4 different ones? When they release a model with new wargear, the rules are included in the box, and digital codex updated. I don't see a way in which a mono-pose 3D model changes this.
GW selling 3d printed things would rather blow a hole in their hardline no 3d printed parts or models at tournaments or warhammer world. With the increasing use of monopose models, it's increasingly easy to see if 3d printed (or otherwise) non standard parts have been used; and some stores have reportedly been cracking down on custom parts too. Selling their own custom small-run parts would definitely undermine that approach.
GW are definitely familiar with 3d printing themselves for prototypes; the new van saar servo suit has some visible 3d printing layer lines on it, for the latest example. (they really need to learn to prep models before painting!) I just can't imagine them doing a complete 180 and suddenly embracing the tech they're working pretty hard to dissuade their existing customers away from any time soon.
The whole point of 3d printing is cheap manufacture of parts that aren't worth using large-scale production methods for - which also brings it nicely into the realm of making your own models at home now quality has risen significantly. GW from 30 years ago would probably have loved it for weird and wacky stuff (deodorant bottle tank!) and bits selling, but these days It's pretty antithetical to their business model of selling GW approved bulk production models for the highest price they can get away with, along with trying to be the only one-stop shop for hobby supplies, every other supplier frowned upon. If they could figure out how to ban non-GW paint at their events, I suspect they'd at least consider it.
The very fact that they are constantly reducing the bits from forgeworld, keeping only the absolutely most profitable lines, fits into that - they don't want to sell you a big back catalog of parts to make older models more interesting, they want you to impulsively buy the latest 'only available until it sells out' new shiny box. And again, and again...
There was visible print lines on my Dark Angel Leviathan too, and while I agree with, or understand your other points, the bolded one is the one I'd like to address.
That is not the WHOLE point of 3D printing. It is certainly a factor, another "point" of 3D printing is the ability to make something that no one else has, the ability to create something that is uniquely yours. GW are already using 3D printing to some extent, expanding to use it as a Premium (over-costed) option is something I absolutely see people paying through the teeth for.
Now my big question,
If this service was available, is it something you'd use, or at least consider? We'll guesstimate $100AU / $70USD / 55GBP