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overdesigned

Magnetic Playmat Project

51 posts in this topic

A while back I got this great idea.  Why not magnetize a playmat so that ships wouldn't slide around, or get shifted when some klutz (me) accidentally kicks the table?

I am proud to announce that I have succeeded in my attempt.  Here's how I did it:

1) I bought 3x3' and 6x3' vinyl banners from bannersonthecheap.com using freely available high-resolution Hubble images for a cost of $51 shipped.

 

2) I bought one 4x10' piece of magnetically receptive "FlexIRON" material, 0.12" thickness, adhesive on one side, uncoated on the other, from magnetsource.com for a cost of $68 shipped.  This was sort of a hassle because they don't have online ordering: I had to submit an email request and talk to a salesman on the phone.

3) I bought two 24-packs of 1" adhesive magnet squares from Amazon for a cost of like $5 shipped (yay Amazon prime)

 

I was able to lay the vinyl graphics on the adhesive magnetic material without much trouble (the 6x3 required some assistance from my roommate) and then trim them to size with a yardstick and a box cutter.

 

Then I put the magnet squares on the undersides of some of my ship bases.  The only flaw is that they were too thin and couldn't really magnetically attach to the magnetic-receptive material.  Doubling them up made them just a bit too thick (visible in the photo below), but with the magnetic attraction it's not a big deal.  I am glad I kept some bases unmodified for play on other hard/smooth surfaces that don't have the magnets though, as they can tip just a bit on other play surfaces.

 

I tried modifying a large ship base with four magnets, one in each corner, but it's just too much magnetic attraction and I tend to pull the large ship off the base when I move it.  The large ships are less susceptible to bumping/shifting anyway so I don't think they really need the magnets as much.

 

It's great for play--the magnetic force makes it so you can slide movement templates up against the ships without worrying about bumping them or moving them.  Plus, magnets are cool.  I have enough extra small bases to share with anybody I play against in casual play, so it's pretty nice.  In full-scale tournament play the modified bases are probably technically illegal because the magnets extend past the bottom of the base--if I did some more research and could get some of the proper thickness they'd be officially tournament-legal, but that's more effort than I want to go into right now.

 

The results, in pictures:

 

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Edited by overdesigned

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If My math is correct total cost ended up in the ballpark of $125?  for (essentially) 3 mats (+ some modified bases)?  

 

They look nice, price is a little higher I think than what people would prefer, the question is how easy are they to transport and how durable they are in the long run.  The price thing I am willing to bet could come down using Either A) local supliers to save the shipping I imagine that material is fairly heavy to ship that much of it, and/or B) getting together with the FLGSs and other interested gamers and buying in bulk to either get a discount and/or free shipping

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or better yet play on the ceiling!!   that way the game is never in the way of everything...  of course some short folks might have a few issues!!  

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do the mats roll up for easy transport?? I can see they bend but the magnetic stuff i have messed with in the past would not roll up very tightly!  not really a huge problem, but just wondering..

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The cost could definitely be brought down if I ordered the magnetic stuff in bulk--it normally comes in 50' rolls at a cost of like $150 per roll (plus shipping, which is probably not much more than shipping a 10' roll), which is much better on a per-foot basis.  As a one-off project with no economy of scale I'm okay with the costs--$40 per 3x3 mat isn't TERRIBLE but it could be better.

I roll 'em up in Alvin poster tubes (you can find 'em on Amazon) and can transport them pretty easily--if I roll them graphics-side-out the curl isn't a big deal (and they relax on their own after 30 minutes or so).  The minimum rolling diameter of the stuff is about 2.5" or so--I can't fit them both in a single poster tube, but one per tube is no problem.

Durability-wise they're holding up, though it'll obviously take time to see how they work long-term.

 

If I could mount them on a wall I bet I could actually play the game that way--the ships have enough grip to hold on even at 90 degrees from horizontal!

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Nice job!

I was considering using magnetic dry-erase board material, rare-earth button magnets, ferrous paints, 25 ga sheel metal, space prints on fabric, etc. but I like your method as well. My method costs about the same but you end up with 9 stackable magnetic 1 foot squares.

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My friend and I had discussed doing something similar, but my assumption was that it would be much more expensive to accomplish. Your selection of materials is brilliant!

 

I think the cost is a great deal for what you have done. I'm seriously considering magnetizing my mat and bases now. Thanks! 

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Great to see it work's!

 

I considered it also in the past, but I was worried that the poles on the magnet sleet wont always match the orientation of the poles on the ship base which would cause them to re-orientate thus shifting the base.

Did you notice any natural resistance from the ship base when you tried to stick it with different orientation on the sheet?

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I know what you're talking about, like mismatched magnetic poles, and nope, no problems like that whatsoever.  It's like putting a magnet on a refrigerator, no weird shiftyness.  The sheeting isn't actually a magnet itself, it's just iron particles embedded in a rubber binder, so the magnet goes down anywhere you put it.

NotBatman, Arttemis and Eboli like this

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 The sheeting isn't actually a magnet itself, it's just iron particles embedded in a rubber binder, so the magnet goes down anywhere you put it.

 

That explains it!

Yup, that would definitely cause no problems at all.

I have access to a B0 size plotter and have printed various maps before so I was thinking to get a magnet sheet roll and print straight on it. It would be better to look for the type of sheet you got then.

Arttemis likes this

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 The sheeting isn't actually a magnet itself, it's just iron particles embedded in a rubber binder, so the magnet goes down anywhere you put it.

 

That explains it!

Yup, that would definitely cause no problems at all.

I have access to a B0 size plotter and have printed various maps before so I was thinking to get a magnet sheet roll and print straight on it. It would be better to look for the type of sheet you got then.

 

 

They actually make a specific version of the product designed to be run through large-format plotter/printers (i.e. printable surface on one side), so you wouldn't have to even get the adhesive kind.

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Yeah I know, I ve checked their site in the past. The problem is that its not good for inkjet plotters that I have access to. The one with paper on top is not wide enough, only 23 inches I think. :(

 

At least I can print on paper at will, so as soon one map goes bad I print a new one. :D

 

Here is one I printed recently. A friend tweaked a Hubble image for it.

pic1823757.jpg

Edited by tsondaboy
torm3ntin likes this

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I have been thinking along similar lines to this, but was struggling to find anywhere that sold the right materials.

 

Out of the blue  -(while searching for something completely different ....... naturally ), I came across this:

 

http://www.signwholesale.co.uk/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=77

 

http://www.signwholesale.co.uk/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=80

 

The first one is a magnetic plastic sheet - the second is a magnetically receptive sheet - in other words not magnetic itself but something that a magnet will stick to. I guess if you are using self-adhesive magnets on your bases you'll only need the second one.

 

The company offering this stuff don't do the printing, but they can arrange it for you if you supply the artwork and will ship it as a completed product - if I understood the sales person correctly the artwork would be printed on a separate vinyl sheet and then bonded to the magnetic material.

I'm awaiting a quote so I'll let you know what it comes to.

Edited by Funkleton
deano93 likes this

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I like the idea about the magnetic sheet on the bottom of the graphics, but I'd have to make one small modification.  FFG suggests glueing a washer onto the bottom of the base to add a little bit of weight.  Wouldn't this be enough to magnetically attach it to the base with enough force to prevent light knocks or bumps, not to mention the little nudges with maneuver templates.

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The problem I ran into with that is that virtually all of the magnetic sheeting products I could find had the magnetically strong side opposite that of the adhesive--so I'd be gluing my banner to the weak side, which has almost no magnetic attractive force.  I was worried that I wouldn't have enough magnetic strength to hold onto a washer, etc glued to the bottom of the ship base.  I decided to go with magnetically receptive material, which can have magnets grip both sides equally well, and put the magnets on the ship bases instead.

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