Is it Worth Getting a 3D Printer for Warhammer Terrain?

Is it worth getting a 3D printer for warhammer terrain

If you’re looking to print your own Warhammer terrain, a 3D printer might be a great investment. Learn which type of printer is best and how you can save money on cheap terrain.

You may be asking yourself whether buying a 3D printer is worth it for printing terrain, the answer is yes… If you want more than a handful of buildings. Definitely, if you want a full table packed with variety! If you want to print miniatures as well, there’s a few considerations.

Should You Get an FDM Printer for Warhammer?

Large terrain is best suited to FDM printers – If you’re new to 3D printing, it’s important to know that there are two types of 3D printers. You can read more about the differences between FDM and resin printers but essentially, FDM printers are excellent for large terrain models such as buildings, but resin printers win for miniatures, scatter terrain and bases.

See examples of terrain printed on a resin printer

See examples of terrain printed on an FDM printer

Is FDM good for miniatures?

FDM printers are not great at printing miniatures but excel at printing terrain. Look at getting a resin printer for 3D printing miniatures.

Which is the best 3D printer for Warhammer 40k?

We recommend the Creality Ender 3 for printing terrain and use them for most of our test prints in the studio, they’re a reliable and cheap work-horse with great results!

We previously wrote about which 3D printer is best for Warhammer but it really boils down to how much you want to spend and what size and quality terrain you want to print. Remember that printing terrain vs printing miniatures have slightly different technologies (PLA vs resin) with current printing technologies.

Cheap Warhammer Terrain

Owning a 3D printer gives you ability to crank out some cheap terrain. Once you buy the STL files, you can print as much as you like! FDM printers use PLA filament, usually in 1KG rolls which cost around $25aud / $17usd. Check out exactly how much terrain you can print with 1KG of PLA here.

Essentially, once you’ve made the initial outlay of a 3D printer, some PLA and some STL files, you’ve got some really cheap terrain!

Further reading on 3D printing terrain:

Best Warhammer 3D print terrain:

Below are the most popular 3D printable terrain products available from Saucermen Studios, you can also get some great Warhammer 40K terrain inspiration here.

3D Print Your Own Starship Interiors!

3D printed starship interiors with playable interiors

There’s a growing number of skirmish wargames that can be set on Starships, this includes the likes of Games Workshop’s Boarding Actions, Star Wars Legion, Stargrave, and a number of RPG systems. It’s useful to have a modular terrain set that allows you to quickly and easily build custom starship layouts. These could be Imperial Star Destroyers, alien battlecruisers, civilian transport ships, generation colony ships, 40K voidcraft, to name but a few.

Spaceship terrain with playable interiors

We’ve designed a lot of sci-fi terrain for tabletop wargamesgames and RPG encounters over the years and have decided to share some of our thoughts for designing your own tables and scenarios below.

Star destroyer interiors legion terrain

What Games Can Use Playable Interiors?

  • Boarding Actions
  • Covus Belli’s Infinity
  • Star Wars Legion
  • Stargrave
  • Necromunda
  • Cyberpunk Red

Quick terrain set-up

Playing is the fun part, so we believe that one of the most important considerations for building your own spaceship terrain is how long it takes to set-up the table and pack away at the end. Think about how your sections connect together and how easily it can be stored afterwards.

Plan the Sections

A good starting point when planning your Spaceship interior terrain would be to ask yourself if you’re setting up an entire starship or just a cross-section which may feature a small number of rooms. Smaller ships could be used for Stargrave missions on a derelict ship, whilst individual sections of the ship would be more suitable to games of Boarding Actions as you fight in the guts of the engine rooms.

Consider the scatter terrain that is associated with different sections of a star-ship interior. Some examples below:

  • Bridge – Consoles, chairs, command stations
  • Engine Room – Machines, pipes, terminals
  • Crew quarters – Beds, lockers, furniture

Next, think about whether you want multiple levels, platforms or decks, joined together with ladders, elevators or hatchways. Make sure it looks good but is also playable.

Is the ship still operational?

Depending on the theme you’re choosing, you may be playing on a spaceship graveyard or a fully functioning imperial star destroyer. Make the features fun to play on and give plenty of opportunities for objectives and cover.

Sets such as Spaceship Graveyard offer modular spaceship terrain with playable interiors that can be built to multiple levels and section.

Modular Terrain

A good set of modular terrain allows you change the layout for each mission, battle or encounter and can be set-up at various sizes. Furthermore it can be made to sprawl out across the game mat or raised vertically for extra height.

Consider if you need glue or clips to connect the modular sections together of it is freestanding or self-connecting

Removable doors and hatchways

Boarding Actions Terrain Ideas

We’re very excited about the recent release of Boarding Actions by Games Workshop and have recently dropped a new terrain range that seems to be very popular with Boarding Actions player.

Our latest Modular Wall System – The ‘Assault Series‘ is designed to be quick to set-up, include options for various themes and include removable doors and hatchways.

We recommend Assault series terrain

  • Modular Sections
  • Huge variety of parts
  • Snaps together easily
  • Lots of detail!
  • Hinged or slide-in doors
  • 3D print as much as you like!

40K Bases Ideas

40k bases ideas

You’ve painted your army and need some bases to bring it all together. There’s a heap of options for basing your miniatures, so if you’re looking for some inspiration for your next Warhammer 40k army or project, we’ve put together a few suggestions which are all available on our store as 3D printable stl files.

3d printed miniature bases stl scifi
Image credit: Stoneys Miniatures

Here are some base ideas to get you started:

Industrial Complex Bases

The grim and gritty world of Warhammer 40k is full of sprawling industrial complexes, from forge worlds to manufactorums. Factory floors and steel plating create a base that looks like it was taken straight from a hive city, complete with pipes, vents, and smokestacks.

Urban City Bases

Urban combat is a huge part of the 40K universe. The cities of Warhammer 40k are filled with towering skyscrapers that reach towards the heavens and plummet deep below the surface of the soil. City bases should include features such as roadways, pavements, vents, and signs of battle damage.

Hull plating Bases

Interstellar travel inevitability takes your missions to the depths of a void ship or the hull of a mighty Space Hulk. You may have prepared a boarding party or skirmish team who specialize in starship raids.

Spaceship Wreckage Bases

Crashed starships and war will cause a lot of wreckage. Just think of all the bits that will fly off a downed spaceship! With a ground littered with hull parts, pipes, engine parts and twisted metal, you might need a et of bases to reflect this.

Scrap Yard & Junk Bases

Whether you’re an squad or underhive salvage crew who reclaim tech from the battlefield. The Warhammer 40k universe is filled with massive amounts of discarded technology and scrap materials. Scrap bases with a junkyard theme would feature piles of scrap metal, rusted vehicles, and discarded tech junk.

3D print your miniature bases

3D printable miniature bases are by far the fastest and easiest way to crank out new bases. When printed in resin, they deliver incredible detail at very little cost and can even be scaled or resized to match your needs.

There’s a huge selection of 40K bases STL files in a range of sizes available. Below are some popular choices from Saucermen Studios:

Warhammer 40k Terrain Ideas

warhammer 40k terrain ideas

Bored of playing on the same tables every time? If you’re looking to expand your 40K terrain collection or start a new scenery project, we’ve got some Warhammer 40K terrain ideas that will get you inspired and add variety to your tables!

How to set-up 40k terrain

Don’t over-complicate things… you can waste hours setting up a 40k table full of elaborate, interconnecting terrain, but you should choose a set that is easy to build, use, take down and store. The example below, from the Flatline City terrain collection is really easy to set-up and move around.

Buy the gothic sanctuary

40K Terrain essentials

There’s a few staples that every tabletop gamer should have in their terrain collection. These should be easy to set-up, modular for various configurations / layouts and most of all, inspiring to play on!

We recommend you should include the following types of terrain in your collection:

Modular Buildings

Modular terrain is where it’s at for changing up your table for every game. You control the height and sprawl of the battlefield by adding more floors and a range of different rooftops.

Buy Flatline City

Piping Systems

Pipes are great for blocking line of sight and adding an industrial theme to your table. Modular pipes are even better as you can build them like lego and change the layout as much as you like. With a 3D printer, you can print dozens of piping sections to craft your own elaborate scenery.

Buy Modular Pipes

Industrial Machinery

Machines are bigger than scatter and smaller than buildings. They fill in the spaces in-between, block line of site and add cover, all the time while adding to that grim dark theme of the universe!

Scatter Terrain

Depending on the theme of your table, you’ll probably want to pad out the gaming mat with some scatter terrain. This could include consoles, crates, barricades, furniture and more!

Ruins & Wreckage

In the future is only war, so represent this with some crashed spaceships, battle damaged buildings and general wreckage.

Buy Spaceship Graveyard

Walkways & Platforms

Modular walkway systems are great for allowing troops to get into some interesting positions on the battlefield. Include a variety of stairs, platforms, elevators and railings to offer different options for cover.

Terrain Sets

Pull it all together with some terrain sets. Saucermen Studios has a range of highly detailed, 3D printable terrain sets.

How do you make 40K terrain?

There are many options for making tabletop terrain such as scratch building, DIY, kitbashing, MDF scenery, etc but the easiest and most cost-effective way to build a high quality terrain collection is with a 3D printer.

how to 3D print terrain

Add posters to your buildings

You can get free, printable posters to print-off on your home printer, cut out, glue and weather.

Which 3D printer for Warhammer Terrain?

3D printed spaceship

3D printing tabletop terrain has become an incredibly affordable way of getting more scenery on your table. Online printing communities are accessible on many platforms, with many people offering assistance to help get users started and overcome any issues they encounter. With all these opportunities, now is the time to get 3D printing for tabletop gaming!

Quick Overview…

To get started printing terrain quickly and cheaply, we recommend FDM printers, specifically the Creality Ender 3 V2 with PLA filament. If you can afford newer or pro versions, they usually include all of the essential upgrades to avoid common issues.

Why 3D print Terrain?

Once you’ve made the initial investment of buying a 3D printer which is often less than $300, you only need to purchase filament, download STL files and other have a small stash of consumable supplies.

Printing terrain and scenery is CHEAP compared to buying plastic sets and has a huge amount more detail than MDF scenery. Once you have the file, you can print as many copies as you like so you can grow a large collection of tabletop terrain with a number of different themes really easily.

Buy 3D printable terrain

What results can you expect from a 3D printer?

With each generation of 3D printer, the quality and speed improves. We’re now at a point where even cheap 3D printers can deliver incredible results. While the STL files are published with incredible detail, you can choose how quickly or detailed these are printed out. When primed and painted, you can often not tell the different between 3D printed terrain and other scenery.

Example print from the community
Example 3D print from the community

Considerations when choosing a 3D printer for terrain

  • Do you need help with bed leveling?
  • What size print area do you need?
  • Do you want a pre-built or kit printer?

So, which 3D printer should you choose for tabletop terrain?

Best Budget 3D Printer: Ender 3

Hands down, the most popular 3D printer for beginners is the Creality Ender 3. The Creality Ender 3 has a max print volume of 220 x 220 x 250 mm. Check out the Ender 3 V2 for a few more features too!

Ender 3 V2

Ender 3 Pros:

  • Very cheap 3D printer
  • HUGE amount of online support communities
  • Easily upgradable

Ender 3 Cons:

  • Comes as a kit (but is easily built)
  • No automatic bed leveling (BL Touch) as standard
  • Be prepared to tweak and tinker occasionally

Mid-Range 3D printer: Creality CR-10S Pro V2

With a few upgrades and bigger printable area, the Creality CR-10S Pro V2 has a max print volume of 300x300x400mm.

CR10s Pro v2

CR-10S Pro V2 Pros:

  • Better build quality than cheaper printers
  • Large print area
  • Automated features
  • Dual Z motors for extra stability
  • Less assembly than cheaper printers
  • Filament run-out sensor

CR-10S Pro V2 Cons:

  • It’s a BIG printer (very tall)
  • Auto bed leveling can sometime miss the mark

Top-end 3D printer: Prusa i3 MK3

With a hefty price tag, this is the upper tier of 3D filament printing as it delivers more consistently higher quality and superior build quality. It has a max print volume of

Prusa i3 mk3

Prusa i3 Mk3 Pros:

  • Faster, quieter, more reliable printing
  • Excellent build quality
  • Auto bed levelling and calibration

Prusa i3 Mk3 Cons:

  • Expensive compared to other brands
  • Availability in some countries

Where to buy 3D printed terrain?

Saucermen Studios have a range of excellent 3D printable scenery available through the online store. Some of the popular terrain sets are available below.

What about resin printers?

Currently, resin printers are great value for miniature printing but FDM printers such as the Ender 3 are still the clear favorite for printable scenery. Resin vs Filament cost is the main factor here but also the size of the printer plate or bed are really important to think about too as FDM printers can usually print larger items and for a lower cost.

Keep resin printers for miniatures, bases, scatter terrain and small, highly detailed scenery.