I wrote more than a year ago about the community designing, printing, and selling custom tabletop gaming miniatures using contract 3D printing services, like Shapeways, that have access to expensive high-resolution SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) rapid prototyping machines. Miniatures produced by SLS can look almost as good as those made by traditional sculpting and casting methods, and depending on the particular artist and design, sometimes better.

Until I saw these recent Warhammer 40K designs from Thingiverse user 3dYeti, however, I thought good-looking gaming minis were beyond the capabilities of hobby-scale desktop FDM/FFF (Fused Deposition Modeling, which is a trademarked term AKA Fused Filament Fabrication, which is not legally encumbered) printers like those from MakerBot, MakerGear, Ultimaker, etc. Guess I was wrong!

Shown uppermost is user Kerry’s print of 3dYeti’s 7-part Leman Russ tank, and below that, two prints of his Imperial Guard sentinel, at different scales and in different colors.  Nice work, guys!

Check out our WH40K archives

Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

  • http://profiles.google.com/johnpatricksmith Patrick Smith

    Games Workshop has a pretty aggressive stance on IP enforcement. I fully support this project (GW models are WAY overpriced), but I can’t imagine this will be around for too long without some legal action.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed, cease and desist, case being built against, complaint being filed in 3, 2, 1….

      It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit will play out.

      • Theodore Meyer

        I predict future GW boxes will come with a shrinkwrapped EULA to not scan or re-cast their IP. That or they start embedding RFID tags in the resins so their redshirts can pass a scanner over models to determine “authenticity.”

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OXQUW3EGS3BHVM2UOGL2NBQZ74 Brian

        The interesting question here is does GDW have any IP to protect?  If 3DYeti created the model based on publicly available images then the Model is HIS (or HER) IP and the only rights GDW will have is to prevent him from representing these as “authentic” or “authorized”.  If the figures have been trademarked rather than the more common copyrighted the owner will have more rights, but trademark is much harder to obtain and defend than copyright.

        • Anonymous

          Don’t know for certain but GW doesn’t even allow stores to even host images of their models on their sites. I have a feeling all of their figures are locked down as much as Spiderman and Batman are. 

        • http://profiles.google.com/johnpatricksmith Patrick Smith

          Don’t have the exact references in front of me, but in the past people have done papercraft models of Games Workshop vehicles and were threatened with legal action. GWs IP FAQ section of their website forbids copying of models.

          “We therefore want to make it clear that Games Workshop will not tolerate counterfeiting of its products nor any other unauthorized use of its trade marks, trade dress, copyright material, or other intellectual property and always seeks the maximum civil and criminal penalties that the law allows.”

          And that model appears to be an exact copy (albeit in Fused Filament Fabrication form) of the official Leman Russ model.

      • http://smragan.com Sean Michael Ragan

        There will be no lawsuit  at first.  If legal action begins, it will consist of a DMCA takedown notice issued against Thingiverse.  It has happened only once before, I think:


        If GW issues one here, Thingiverse will almost certainly, per its stated policy, remove the offending files from its servers.  I suppose a lawsuit might follow on, but it’s hard to see how that would be worth GW’s time, costs, or PR problems, once the files have been removed.  At that point, of course, they’ll appear as torrents, somewhere. 

  • Anonymous

    This isn’t going to end well for 3dYeti. 

    • Anonymous

      As an aside, I think we all know where this is going. While GW, Marvel, DC, etc fight to defend their properties by taking everyone and their mother to court. They probably could make a pretty penny off selling their own 3D models online for people to purchase and print out on their own. Crazy, I know. But it isn’t a war they’re going to win. In 10 years, these printers will be coming free with every brand new PC.

  • http://twitter.com/ChaoticYeti Thomas Valenty


    I am 3dYeti. I modeled these items in 3d software from scratch. They do resemble their namesakes, but they are not verbatim. GW allows scratch/home built models as long as they are not for profit, or paid for. I am not calling this model licensed, or official. I state on their respective pages that they are not verbatim copies, and that I created them. Please at least do a google search before you raise your pitchforks.

    GW has not made any official statement against 3d printing. I don’t imagine anyone in the market for a GW model would instead build a 3d printer to build their army.

    Until than, here is a read from GW legal:


    Read page 4

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=800773954 Keith GatlingGun Gatchalian

    Games Workshop models are not overpriced. They are expensive. There is a difference. Compare them to other company’s figures and most model kits out there and the prices, for the most part are the same.

    • http://twitter.com/ChaoticYeti Thomas Valenty

      I agree. I’ve owned and painted many GW models.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=800773954 Keith GatlingGun Gatchalian

    GW does not allow you to make a scratch/home built model using their IP or anything resembling their imagery. Conversions of GW models have to start out as a GW model and contain 50% GW parts. 

    • http://twitter.com/ChaoticYeti Thomas Valenty

      To be officially recognized in gameplay, yes. What’s to stop them from letting me carve a dreadnought out of wood?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cody-Gordon/1620008802 Cody Gordon

    Hey keep up the good work.

  • http://twitter.com/prescottogden Prescott Ogden

    This has been taken down by a DMCA notice from Games Workshop

  • http://www.facebook.com/tjcourtland Tim Courtland

    I am a walking IP Infringment. I have a particular GW trademark tattoo on my arm. It seemed like a good idea at the time but technically I could be taken to the cleaners if GW had a desire to do so. If anything, it is free advertising.

  • http://www.pitneyworks.co.uk/Franking-Machines/dm50-franking-machine.shtml Pinto

    Miniature wargaming is a form of wargaming that incorporates miniature figures.The written skill is so good.I am very impress to this one.This is an amazing.I appreciate to this one.Thanks to share this blog.

  • http://www.meritline.com/laser-pointer---c-14339.aspx Green Laser Pointer

    something new about the laser tecnology i found hare.

  • Flyndad123

    GW will sue ,.. eventually,… and lose,.. eventually,.. We have seen this time and time and time again. The cat is out of the bag, period. The miniature manufacturers BETTER get with the program, and get with it quick or they will see their entire revenue stream disappear seemingly overnight. The solution is rather simple and someone has already mentioned it in one of the above posts. Begin to create digital files of your “IP” figures and sell them online. Unfortunately GW is FAR too short sighted a company to see what an amazing explosion of GROWTH this would have on their industry and will cling to their “IP” legal suits until their last breath. Seriously,.. how long do you think it will be before some OTHER company comes up with a REALLY REALLY great war game that offers their armies in digital download for 3d printing. THAT alone would garner massive attention to their new product and if the mechanics were sound,.. well,..BAM!! a new game to actually give GW a run for their money,…. and the players who are fed up with being raked across the coals just to enjoy their hobby will turn on GW in the blink of an eye, and move in hordes to line up to start playing with their home 3d printed armies,…

  • Aeek

    GW Imperial tanks aren’t that different from Great War tanks, can’t help their IP