Because the table-top miniature wargames sector of the economy is a critical one-zillionith of GDP. Or something. Anyway, we read at Wired that 3-D printers are close to becoming a reality in your home:
The BotCave is home to MakerBot, a company that for nearly four years has been bringing affordable 3-D printers to the masses. But nothing MakerBot has ever built looks like the new printer these workers are currently constructing. The Replicator 2 isn’t a kit; it doesn’t require a weekend of wrestling with software that makes Linux look easy. Instead, it’s driven by a simple desktop application, and it will allow you to turn CAD files into physical things as easily as printing a photo. The entry-level Replicator 2, priced at $2,199, is for generating objects up to 11 by 6 inches in an ecofriendly material; the higher-end Replicator 2X, which costs $2,799, can produce only smaller items, up to 9 by 6 inches, but it has dual heads that let it print more sophisticated objects. With these two machines, MakerBot is putting down a multimillion-dollar wager that 3-D printing has hit its mainstream moment.
…And that’s just the tooth business. Practically every consumer item or electronic gadget you own has been prototyped on a 3-D printer; ditto for the newer buildings around you. Today you can get a custom 3-D-printed action figure of your World of Warcraft character or your Xbox Live avatar. And if you go to Tokyo, you can have your head scanned for a photo-realistic action figure of yourself. (Try not to get too creeped out.)
Most of the table top miniature games companies (Games Workshop is the largest, but there are dozens) already use 3-D printing to design oversized mockups of their miniatures, which are then mass produced in plastic, resin, or metal (an aside for nerd historians: the progenitor of the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons was a miniatures-based wargame known as Chainmail from the early 1970s).
It should be relatively easy for someone to figure out (pun intended) how to make copies of existing miniatures that can then be produced at home. In essence, this takes Napster et alia to a whole new level. On the other hand, maybe these companies will stop making models, and simply become rule-making and template-selling companies?