Tabletop gaming and 3d printing are two different hobbies, but one can make useful items for the other! 3d printing can make items for the tabletop, from terrain models to gaming pieces. But you can also print accessories and tools that can help you get the most out of your hobbies.
None of these items is essential to gaming on the tabletop. But they can help you either play the games or print the tabletop items that you’ll use. I’ll give you my 11 most useful items that I’ve come across in my 3d printing travels.
Here’s an article on the advantages and disadvantages of printing tabletop models at home. It’s related, so I wanted to point it out here.
It’s unlikely anyone ever accused you of cheating at rolling dice. If they did, don’t play with those people – they are either right (you are cheating!) or no fun to be around. You can put those concerns aside right away, though, with a dice roller.
Tumble the dice into the top, and the dice fall down into the tray, getting jumbled without the aid of the human hand. It brings an impartiality to the dice rolling experience. They are a little loud (the dice clatter on the way down) but that can be satisfying, too.
This dice rolling tray is very simple and functional, and is best printed with PLA, PETG or ABS on a filament FDM printer. If you do a search on Thingiverse.Com for dice towers, you’ll find quite a few examples, many of which are quite artistic.
Dice Rolling Tray
If you’re just not concerned about the impartiality of your dice rolls and are okay with the human hand doing the normal task of rolling dice, this tray may be for you. When rolling, keeping the dice from falling off the table or knocking over game elements on the tabletop is a concern. This stops the dice inside a nice enclosed space.
It has the added bonus of having a storage area for each of your dice types (for those of us that like to play games that use different dice types, like Dungeons and Dragons®).
Print with PLA, PETG or ABS on a filament FDM printer. It’ll be tough as nails. Cut and glue some felt in the middle to deaden the roll and the sound if you like.
Dice of Holding
This is just a fun little storage box for just about anything (dice come to mind, of course)! Add small rare earth magnets to keep the lid on (the print has holes designed to place the magnets in, but you’ll have to source them separately).
It’s designed to be printed with a filament FDM printer using PLA, PETG or ABS filament, but I see no reason you couldn’t print it with a resin DLP printer (although it may be a little big for some printers). You can see from the image that you’ll likely see layer lines on a filament print, but those can either be smoothed or sanded. A resin print will be much less layered.
Under-Printer Storage Drawer
While not strictly a tabletop accessory or tool, it is a great item to have for when you’re using a filament FDM printer like the Ender 3. This is specifically sized to fit under the Ender 3, but there are other drawers out there for other printers, too.
The convenience of having your tools handy (screw drivers, Allen wrenches, extra nozzles and the like) is so useful. It can also serve as storage for those small bits you’ve printed but haven’t gotten ready yet for the tabletop.
This, again, is something best printed on a filament FDM printer. In this case, since it’s supposed to go under an Ender 3, use that to print them. PLA, PETG or ABS filament would be fine.
Sliding Storage Drawers
For those items heading for the tabletop, like tokens, small gaming bits, markers, pens and the like, a handy tote with all your items can be very handy. Since you can make multiples of these, you may want to create one for each game system that you play, with all the items for that game system in there.
The design closes so that you can store these handily, and you’ll have everything that you need to play just by pulling out the correct storage tray.
This is big enough that filament FDM printing with PLA, PETG or ABS filament will be just fine. You are likely to see layer lines, but I wouldn’t think that would make much of a difference. It certainly won’t detract from the storage box. It’s not part of the tabletop, just a handy accessory to help you out.
Resin Vat Drain Accessory
This is definitely not useful on the tabletop for gaming, but is very useful for those of us that print using resin DLP printers. From time to time, you’ll have to drain your resin vat back into the resin storage bottle. It can be somewhat of a balancing act getting it all stacked up (filter inside a funnel inside the top of the resin bottle) and then pour into the filter.
This is an aid that allows you to place the bottle under the funnel, and a filter in the funnel. Then, you can gently pour the contents into the funnel to drain into the bottle. Once mostly empty, you can place the tray into the top to hold it at an angle, allowing it to drip for a while (saving as much resin as you can – it’s pricy, so save every last drop).
I included this here as a useful tool that can help you take the stress out of resin DLP printing. Ironically, you’ll want to print this on a filament FDM printer using ABS filament. It’s too large for most resin DLP printers.
Paint Brush Holder
Getting your models ready for the tabletop is likely an exercise in painting. Painting will likely mean paint brushes, and storing your brushes with their bristles pointing up is recommended. It keeps your brushes safe from damage on your work space, and it allows you to easily grab the exact brush that you want to use. It’s also good to keep your brushes organized in a small footprint on your hobby space.
This is best printed in PLA, PETG or ABS on a filament FDM printer. Water shouldn’t be an issue with PLA, as the bristles could be damp, but the barrel of the paint brush should be dry. If you’re concerned about the PLA breaking down due to the moisture, use ABS filament.
Citadel Paint Pot Open Holder
Citadel®, the paint brand from Games Workshop®, have a unique paint pot design. It’s sometimes a pain to keep that lid open while you’re painting. Many have accidentally tipped over the pot and spilled paint. This handy little tool will both hold your paint pot and hold that lid open.
This is one of those “why didn’t I think of that” ideas! If you use Citadel® paint, then these are quite handy. Print yourself several of these. You could use PLA, PETG or ABS filament for this little tool. You’ll likely get some paint splotches or drips on it over time, but that won’t impact the usefulness or utility of the tool.
This is a handy four-paint color paint pallet, with a small groove that you can use to set your paint brush down in (so it won’t roll away). A paint pallet allows you to have your paint easily accessible, and it gives you the ability to mix and thin your paints by adding paint or thinner to paints already in the pallet.
It’s not critical to have smooth cavities, but it’s nice to aid in cleaning the pallet. Print several of these, so you can have a fresh one once you’ve used all four cavities. That’s the beauty of 3d printing – make as many as you want!
To get smooth cavities, you could print with ABS filament and use a smoothing agent. This is a good project to print on a resin DLP printer. It’s small enough and will get you smoother cavities. Once UV cured, it should be moisture resistant and shouldn’t be bothered by the liquid nature of paint. Spray paint the pallet with gloss paint to enhance the smoothness and washability of the item.
Paint Water Holder
Since we’re talking about painting with small brushes, it’s good to use a water holder for cleaning brushes. This is for water only (for when you’re using acrylic paints). Stronger spirits (like mineral spirits or turpentine) would be inappropriate for this, as it would start to break down the printed plastic.
The holes and indents around the edge of the open lid for the containers are to hold the brushes. One way that brushes are damaged is leaving them in a water container with the bristles down. The bristles bend and keep that shape, deforming the point and the bulk of the bristles. The indents are there to let the brush soak, but the bristles don’t actually touch the bottom.
The rings on the bottom of the container are there to give you some traction for when you’re cleaning the paint off the brush.
You’ll want to use an filament FDM printer for this, and use ABS filament. PLA will break down over time, as the water and light you’ll need to paint are the ingredients necessary for that to happen. ABS doesn’t have this issue (it’s the same plastic used in Lego®, for example), and is waterproof and won’t break down.
A lazy susan is a rotating tray assembly. It’s great for displaying items that you want to be able to see from all sides, but that’s not that useful for tabletop game support. What I’ve seen it most used for is as a painting tray for when you’re using an airbrush.
When you airbrush a model (like something you’ve 3d printed), you want to paint all sides of it. If you hold the model while you’re spraying, you have to hold the model, and that means paint isn’t getting under where your fingers are. Or, if you move your fingers to a new spot, you’ll smudge or leave marks on the wet paint before it’s dry. Instead, putting the model on a rotating platform is great to get around this. Rotate the platform and leave the model in a static orientation on the platform.
Because of its size, print this on a filament FDM printer. You can use PLA, PETG or ABS filament. Don’t worry about the water that you’re spraying. It’ll dry so quickly that PLA won’t be bothered by the minimal moisture. You will get paint all over the lazy susan, though, but that won’t affect its usefulness!
What are the best 3d printers for tabletop use?
My personal favorites are Ender 3 for filament FDM printing, and Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K Mono for resin DLP printing. Runners up include the CR-10 for larger FDM prints, and AnyCubic Photon and Elegoo Mars for affordable but excellent DLP printing. For affiliate links and my recommendations, here is my Recommended Gear Page for Home3dPrints.Com.
Where can I find 3d printer tabletop miniatures?
There are hundreds, if not thousands of designers on the web either selling STL files or giving them away for free. Thingiverse.Com is an excellent source for many of them. Here’s an article on some of my favorites and how to find them.