3D printing is a legal morass, according to WIRED magazine. If you’re wondering where 3D printing technology will take us in the future, look no further than the miniature gaming industry. 3D printers are getting less expensive, and easier to use. The printers will soon fill every household, becoming commonplace as computers did back in the late 20th century. How are companies going to adapt in this new age? I don’t know….
In this article, I show you 10 Games Workshop products that are easily replaced by 3D printing.
Are you looking for alternative Games Workshop bases, tools, or accessories, e.g., like a combat gauge or Citadel painting handle? Read on below and you may come up with your own ideas for using 3D printing technology!
Here are the 10 Games Workshop products that 3D printing can replace:
If you have a 3D printer, you can reproduce any of the following products at significantly lower material cost. Note that some image links will direct you to open source databases where you can freely download the *.STL or *.OBJ files.
Decorative bases for miniatures are a very popular product for tabletop hobbyists. They complete the miniature paint job. Depending on the miniature, the base provides the final “context” for the overall look.
Games Workshop has a ton of basing products, from pre-fabs (as shown above) to flocking material, e.g., loose rock, grass, debris, that you can glue to blank bases.
3D printing and scratch-building has shifted some of the consumer drive away from the commercial basing material, and toward home-made creations.
No longer do you need to buy fancy bases to achieve the look you want.
Now you can go to Thingiverse and download a base design someone else has made. Easy! Load the STL or OBJ file into your printer’s software, and 3D print your own bases. For the more adventurous, you can try and make your own 3D models in rendering software and print them. See what I’ve done here.
Designers have also used the popularity of 3D printers to leverage their designs into a commercial business. Take for example, a Kickstarter that launched that only provides the 3D files for printing.
If you have a 3D printer, you merely take these files and make them at home. No more middle man.
Go from a designer to maker in literally seconds.
If you have a 3D printer, you have less reason to buy Games Workshop bases. Of course, if you like the aesthetics of the Citadel product, then that’s a different story. But, for the Warhammer 40k or Age of Sigmar modeler looking for something different or less expensive*, 3D printing is an awesome opportunity.
(* Disclaimer – 3D printing has associated costs, too).
Have you ever lost a base that you need to finish your assembly? It happens. I once misplaced a 35mm round base and had to buy a 10-pack on eBay just to replace the one I lost.
If I had a 3D printer at the time, I would have just 3D printed a new base. There are so many free 3D printable files online now that it would be super-easy to download and replace a missing base.
Or, if you’re one of those hobbyists that is converting your bases from square to round (Fantasy to Age of Sigmar), or vice-versa, 3D printing can save you a bit of money if you already operate a 3D printer.
Thingiverse is chock-full of files for basing material, including the blank bases themselves. Round circle, oval, or oblong-shaped bases are all available for free. Of course, depending on the quality of your 3D printer, the quality of the 3D print may vary.
But, remember that if you’re going to cover your base in flocking material, any imperfections in the 3D print may be easily concealed.
Games Workshop has produced a number of branded tools for hobbyists. Some are wonderful, made of high-quality materials, and function better than any competitor alternatives.
But, there are some tools that boggle the mind in terms of utility vs. cost.
The Citadel Texture Spreader is one such tool that is sold at an outrageous price for its purpose. It is a plastic stick. A stick you use to spread pasty material onto your models or bases.
This is where 3D printing comes in a saves the day I think (or going into a local coffee shop and swiping a few of those cute wooden stirrers).
A crafty 3D modeler has rendered a 3D printable texture spreader. The file is downloadable online (click image below). The cool part about this is that because the 3D file is digital, you can change the shape, size, and look of the tool to fit your needs. Make the file your own.
Surely, a 3D printed plastic stick will do the job of spreading Citadel texture paints, or even cream cheese over your morning bagel, if that’s your taste.
Oh, now I’ve gone too far. Can you 3D print Games Workshop terrain pieces? Yes, apparently. Is it illegal? Maybe.
3D printing wargaming terrain is commonplace.
So many companies and individuals have 3D modeled amazing looking terrain pieces, from urban environments, historical landmarks, fantasy landscapes, and much more.
3D printable files that look like Citadel terrain is everywhere. Check out the images of 3D rendered files from thingiverse below.
3D printing is great for creating wargaming terrain for any tabletop game. It is fairly inexpensive in terms of material cost.
The hobby still requires that you finish these 3D printed terrain pieces by painting them. Painting miniatures in the tabletop gaming hobby is the final touch that makes the whole world you’re playing in come alive.
Painting miniatures can be pain. Literally. Holding a small object for long periods of time can wear down joints and stress out your precious digits.
Over the years, painting handles designed to hold miniatures in a more stable and comfortable position have emerged.
Games Workshop has, of course, leveraged this need in the miniature painting community with the Citadel Painting Handle (reviewed here). Of all the GW products, I find the Citadel Painting Handle a great buy.
I don’t think 3D printing will fully replace the utility of the Citadel version of the painting handle. It’s simply that good for the price.
But, if you insist in using 3D printing to augment your painting hobby, then there are a lot of 3D printable designs out there. Most of them meet the purpose of improving the comfort of painting small miniatures by providing a stable, ergonomic platform.
I’m not 100% sure of the purpose of the Citadel Painting Mat. It is a bit pricey in my opinion. It’s intended to keep spilled paints from going onto your desk.
Personally, I think paint spillage could be prevented with better Citadel Paint Pot design.
But, every good product fills a need.
If you’re looking to cover your desk with a spill proof system, 3D printing a tray of some sort would work. Maybe, you want to prevent small parts during assembly from rolling off onto the floor.
3D printed work trays and mats are available. Take a look at the options at Thingiverse.
Games Workshop art and lore all include the every-present skull motif. Skulls adorn the miniature heroes that inhabit the world; festoon the facade of buildings and castles, and adorn even the foothills of haunted forests.
And, not just human skulls. The skulls of orks, dragons, and other fantastical creatures carpet every flat surface in the Citadel world.
Games Workshop has a number of products that help you put more skulls into your modeling hobby.
But, instead of buying them, why not 3D print your own skulls?
3D printing is perfect for this.
You can download skulls and using digital software, change them to fit the look you need. Re-size, re-shape, and collate skulls into your miniature project.
Games Workshop does not have a monopoly on miniature skulls.
I love the Citadel Water Pot. I have two!
But, I could have more water pots if I wanted them….how?
3D printing has created the opportunity for me to make as many of these lovely water pots as I want.
Check out the replica Citadel Water Pots below. Click the images to access the 3D printable files.
Whomever designed these 3D printable water pots reproduced the features that made the original great. Of course, these aren’t actually Citadel Water Pots because there’s no logo on the side (or are they?).
Games Workshop has profited through careful branding and maintaining a beautifully consistent motif through its products. This also includes the measuring devices they sell for use in their tabletop wargames.
In this case, 3D printing can make nearly any measuring tool you may need for your tabletop games. Sure, a 3D printed measuring tool may not be as accurate as a mass-produced, machine-cut device, but for a gamer, it should be more than enough for a fun time.
When I did a search of Thingiverse for measuring devices, I discovered hundreds of versions of the same concept. Below are simply two I saw that looked similar to Citadel’s offering.
A Citadel Spray Stick is a device for holding miniatures while you spray them. If you’re priming with an aerosol can, this is a wonderful system for efficiency and keeping your hands clear of over-spray. You can even use this for holding models while you spray them with a varnish.
In fact, the spray stick is perfect because it encourages you to “spray your models” with primer and varnish rather than brushing these media on (see reasons for why spraying is better for primers and varnishes here and here).
Yet, if you consider the cost of buying one of these spray sticks, you could 3D print a lot of alternative options.
A quick search of online 3D files shows a number of ways you can 3D print a “spray stick” that holds multiple models.
What Kind of 3D Printer Do I Need for Making These Games Workshop Things?
For anyone asking this question, I would strongly suggest a fused-deposition modeling (FDM) style printer as a first buy, rather than a resin-based printer.
In contrast to stereolithography (SLA) or digital light processing (DLP) resin-based printers, FDM printers are less costly to run, easier to operate, take up less space, and don’t require a lot of post-processing work.
Note that the best printer for 3D printing miniatures, such as those made from Games Workshop, is probably the resin-based 3D printing system. But, this statement is based on the fact that for miniatures, you would be looking for high-resolution in the printing surface, e.g., a smoother 3D printed finish with a lot of detail.
For 3D printing large objects, where super-smooth surfaces and fine-detail aren’t necessary, an FDM printer has many benefits over resin-printers (as mentioned above).
FDM printers are affordable to most miniature gamer and hobbyists’ budgets.
For under $500 (in some cases closer to $300), you can get a fantastic FDM 3D printer. Check out some recommendations for 3D printers and products below.
3D printing is a disruptive technology. It has changed the way consumers and industries operate. The old ways are dying.
For miniature tabletop gamers, this is an exciting time because we are witnessing a shift in how we engage with the hobby.
I wrote this article as another example of how a large gaming company (Games Workshop) could be affected by 3D printing that goes beyond the gaming miniatures and models themselves. 3D printing directly affects the accessories and peripheral products, too.
If you haven’t taken advantage of 3D printing, yet, you have certainly already felt its effect on your life in one way or another.
Thank you for reading!