Want to make your own custom miniatures but don’t know where to start? PrintNinja can help. We’ve compiled all the resources you need to take your miniatures from idea to product.Start Learning
Absolutely! Producing custom miniatures is not inherently difficult, and you should feel comfortable with the thought of using miniatures in your game project. PrintNinja has engineers on staff to handle the manufacturing process and help you bring your designs to tabletops around the globe, whether you’re looking for plastic molded custom miniatures or other specialty non-printed game pieces. We’ll walk you through every step of the process.
Creating and approving the 3D models for your miniatures
Preparing for manufacturing your miniatures
The manufacturing process
Optional post-manufacturing processes
Packaging custom miniatures with your game
The easiest way for us to make your custom miniature designs a reality is by submitting finished 3D models created with the CAD software of your choice. Similar to our prepress process for printed material, we will review your 3D models to make sure that your miniatures are appropriately designed for the manufacturing process. We want to avoid geometries or features that will adversely affect your models’ durability.
If you don’t have finished 3D models, that’s okay! Our team can also take your detailed 2D images showing all the sides (i.e., front, left, right, top, and bottom) of your custom miniatures and convert them into finished 3D models. Please note that we do not have the staff to help you in the creation of your design. Character concepts and designs should be completed before entering this process and PrintNinja cannot aid in creating any artwork.
Lastly, we can also scan any existing 3D sculptures of your custom miniatures to help generate a 3D model that we can tweak for the manufacturing process. (Note: This would require sending your model to China, so domestic scanning services should also be considered.)
The cost of verifying or creating your finalized 3D models depends on the complexity of your designs, and their level of completeness when they are submitted to us. As you can imagine, it takes more time to build a model of a typical wargame miniature than a chess pawn! After the 3D models have been verified, we’ll send you 3-D printed “test” miniatures for your approval.
Our miniatures are made via injection molding using PVC material. The process involves injecting hot liquid plastic material into a steel mold (i.e., tooling) with up to roughly 6 cavities created based on your designs. The plastic cools rapidly, and the mold is opened to release your custom miniatures.
Depending on your order quantities, multiple cavities in the mold may be the same design. For example, if your game only has 2 different custom miniatures in it, and you are ordering the same quantity for each miniature, we would likely fill the mold with 3 cavities of each design. The mold design process will depend on your specific designs and order quantities.
These molds are made using a method called “Ceramic Mold Casting”. Our quality control and assurance team in China inspects the first units made with your new tool to verify that the mold meets quality expectations. After their preliminary inspection, we’ll send you these first pre-production units (or production samples) for approval before proceeding with manufacturing the final units. This proofing service is included in your miniatures quote.
While you may be completely satisfied with a simple custom miniature, PrintNinja can take your miniature to the next level. Each post-manufacturing process will need to be custom quoted, but some of the additional processes you may want to consider are:
Partial or complete painting of your miniatures.
Applying a special sticker on the bottom of the base
Anything that you can imagine can be considered for custom quotes!
Since PrintNinja acts as your “general contractor” of sorts, we will organize the packing of your custom miniatures with the rest of your game project. Typical packing includes placing your custom miniatures in plastic bags within the packaging of your game project for additional protection. However, we can quote custom packaging if you desire something different.
Cost can vary considerably based on a number of factors, including the complexity of your design, the 3D approval process, desired size, order quantities, post-processing, and many other variables. However, we have listed some estimated costs for our standard 35mm miniatures below, so you can begin to build your budgets and campaigns easily. Our typical minimum order quantity is 1,000 injections of a mold (about 6,000 total miniature units if the mold is completely filled with cavities). However, the pricing per unit decreases with higher order volumes and even 2,000 injections (12,000 total miniatures) greatly improve the per unit cost. Smaller orders may be accepted, but generally, the process becomes more expensive per unit as order volumes decrease.
It should be noted that simple 35 mm designs should be able to be produced as 1 piece and generally have a humanoid or simple shape.
We create the “Validation Proof” miniatures from your supplied files. These are 3D printed and cost $325 per design. So if you need 3 unique designs validated, the total cost would be $975.
PrintNinja will create a 3D CAD rendering of your miniature from your 2D drawings and then 3D print a physical validation proof for $550 per design, all inlcusive. So, if you want to create 3 unique designs, the total cost would be $1650. That price includes the “Validation Proof” miniatures that are 3D printed.
Revisions: If you need to make any revisions to the designs after the 3D model has been created, those will cost $200 per design. So if you’d like to have 3 revisions of the 3 unique designs, that would cost $600 in revision costs.
Tooling Costs: Tooling is the process of creating the mold for your production run of custom miniatures. This is the most expensive part of the process and the reason for the high MOQ. $2,500-$3,000 (per tool based on complexity).
Miniatures Costs (per unit): If you are ordering the minimum of 1,000 units of your game that will include 8,000 miniatures. At the 1,000 order tier,and assuming full use of the tool, the miniatures are priced at $0.15 per unit after the above setup and tooling costs. So, a 1,000 minimum order would cost at least $1,200 for the physical miniatures themselves.
Grand Total: Altogether if one were to proceed with the most cost-efficient option, where they provided us with 3D files of 1 unique design and required no revisions, the base cost would be somewhere around $4,000. It should also be noted that this pricing is separate from any other components within the rest of your game.
Validation Proof Notes: Validation Proofs are necessary for ordering miniatures and cannot be skipped to save costs.
Order Process Notes: Because of the complex nature of quoting and manufacturing miniatures, they are charged as a separate item from the rest of the order. They also require different turnarounds than any other component or printed goods that we offer, and specific turnarounds can be discussed during the quoting process. You should account for 60-90 days in proofing and manufacture time.
Complex Miniatures: Miniatures that are larger in scale or require multiple parts being glued together in the final construction can be quoted as well, but require a 5,000 unit MOQ.