Have you ever seen a 3D printed miniature?
Board games or role-playing games that use miniatures have always been very popular, and right now 3D printing has become a fundamental part of the custom miniature ecosystem.
Do you want to find out what types of miniatures there are? If you should use resin or FDM printing? Then keep reading.
How are 3D printed miniatures?
Board game miniatures are traditionally made by injection molding plastic, so they tend to have a lot of definition and detail. Most of these miniatures are intended to be painted later, so they are usually gray.
The miniatures can be in different scales depending on the game, although the most common are 18mm scale, also known as heroic scale, or 28mm, the most common and widespread, as it is used by Warhammer miniatures. These scales represent the height of a human 1.68 m tall. The size of the figure will vary according to the size of the creature, but it will keep the scale in relation to the others.
3D printed miniatures
3D printed miniatures are usually 28 mm scale, as this is the format used by Games Workshop games and also in most role-playing games that are based on Dungeons and Dragons. This scale is very appropriate, as it is just the right size for a miniature to be printed with relative ease on conventional 3D printers with a 0.4mm nozzle. We will compare the use of FDM and resin printers later on, but keep in mind that 28mm miniatures are big enough to be printed on almost any 3D printer.
As you can see, you can tell that the miniature is not a traditional miniature made by injection, but the quality is perfectly decent for playing your favorite games. In the next section we will discuss the quality expected using FDM printing and resin printing.
Print miniatures in FDM vs. Resin
This is a very extended debate in the miniature sub-forums of forums like Reddit, but, here at Bitfab we want to convey the message that both options are perfectly valid. Logically, a resin printer (SLA or DLP) such as the popular Anycubic photon or Elegoo mars will give you miniatures with higher quality, but the figures you can print with a properly set FDM printer have a totally acceptable quality.
Next we are going to show you some very detailed pictures of what you can expect from miniatures printed with FDM on a home printer.
To be honest, a good paint job will give any of these miniatures a very good finish even though they are not perfect.
Where to find miniatures for 3D printing
With the rise of 3D printing, dozens of modelers have emerged who are exclusively dedicated to designing miniature models to be printed in 3D. Depending on what game you want to play you will have to search in one place or another, but we will show you the ones we consider most relevant. The most prominent categories in all these sites are usually medieval fantasy, for games like Warhammer fantasy or Dungeons and Dragons, and Science Fiction, for games like Warhammer 40k
MyMinifactory: our favorite
MyMinifactory is, without a doubt, one of the best sites on the Internet to download 3D models in general. When it comes to miniatures, it is also one of the top sites, as it has a specific and very well indexed section dedicated to this category. In addition, Myminifactory has a store where you can download more premium models by paying a small amount that will help designers to continue creating new miniatures.
Here are some of the examples that we liked the most.
Medieval fantasy miniatures in Myminifactory
Science fiction miniatures in MyMinifactory
Thingiverse, while it can be a bit frustrating at times, also has a huge collection of miniatures if we know how to search for them. We are going to leave you with some examples of miniatures that we have found interesting and that you can find in Thingiverse.
Medieval fantasy miniatures in Thingiverse
Science fiction miniatures in Thingiverse
Kickstarter is, today, one of the largest (if not the largest) source of miniatures for 3D printing. If we go into the corresponding section of the site we will see that, at the time of writing, there are a lot of active miniature campaigns, in addition to all the past campaigns. We are going to leave you some examples so that you can go and see the ones you like the most.
One of the options you may know less about is Patreon. At Patreon you can be a patron of the very artists and modelers who design these miniatures, by contributing a monthly fee. Depending on the artist and the fee we pay, we will have access to a growing collection of miniatures, which usually adds new figures every week or month. It is one of the most interesting options and we certainly recommend you to take a look at it.
We leave you with some of the most renowned artists within this community.
Miniatures in Bitfab
In Bitfab we have a lot of experience printing miniatures for board games of all types, from Warhammer to Dungeons and Dragons, through recreations of historical battles and dioramas set in fictional universes.
If you have any questions or want to start a project related to the 3D printing of miniatures, do not hesitate to contact us, we will be happy to help.