There comes a time when every LEGO model builder wishes a part existed with a custom design on it, and what better way to achieve that than custom printing on to LEGO bricks?
Here’s the Bricks McGee guide to custom LEGO brick printing. This is primarily aimed at U.K. LEGO builders, though there is a list of recommended printing companies in Europe, the US, Australasia and more from my trusted LEGO friends worldwide too at the end.
Header: my LEGO model of NER Snow Plough #12, with custom printed details.
Examples of custom LEGO printing
There are a couple of reasons I tend to get LEGO bricks and other elements printed:
- Event bricks – AFOLs (Adult Fans of LEGO) tend to be given a brick printed with the show name and date for exhibiting – typically on a 1×8 brick.
- Signs and details – part of modelling with LEGO is that sometimes, you can’t capture every detail at the scale you’re building. Printing bricks, tiles and other elements allows you to add some of the key details which would otherwise be very hard to capture accurately, such as the “7” on the side of this Toby the tram engine model I built a few years ago:
Many companies can print across multiple elements, too – this can be helpful for more unusual items!
LEGO printing vs stickers on bricks vs engraving
Printing isn’t the only option to get your custom designs on to LEGO bricks – you can also get custom stickers printed.
One benefit of stickers is that they’re likely to be quite a bit cheaper than printing on LEGO bricks, especially if you need them in bulk. The major disadvantage, though, is that stickers are more prone to damage once installed. Printed bricks can also be susceptible to the designs being rubbed off over time, so need to be used, where possible, in areas that are likely to feature little friction.
Brick engraving is also an option, although I’m not a fan as much as printing, as it involves “digging” in to the bricks, rather than printing on top of them. Engraving tends to be harder wearing due to this, though design options in engraving tend to be more limited (e.g., just text rather than more intricate designs).
Preparing your artwork for brick printing
Once you’ve decided what you want to print, you’ll need to provide a design for it. Some companies can help you create this, if you need it – be prepared to pay an additional charge for design work if so.
Beware that you should own the copyright – or have permission – to print any artwork on to bricks. This usually means you need to have created the artwork initially, or that the artwork is out of copyright due to its age.
Steve and Sally, founders of Fab Bricks, are based in Gloucestershire and ship U.K.-wide. As well as LEGO brick printing, they offer a huge range of customisable figures and bricks from Valentine’s Day to Christmas, and everything in between. They also offer brick engraving.
I’ve used their LEGO printing service for years for personal models and am often surprised by the quality they can achieve. Highly recommended!
Minifigs.me are based in Sheffield, Yorkshire, and they ship U.K. wide. Run by Nick and Caroline, they’re both long term LEGO fans and produce some fantastic custom minifigure prints – I have quite a few of their “Mini-uns” from before LEGO released their own line of custom moulded figures.
3. Brick Sanity
Brick Sanity are also based in the UK and offer a LEGO printing service. Also on offer are custom 3D printed elements, and printed figures. They advertise in Blocks Magazine, so they may look familiar!
4. Geeky Cool
Geeky Cool are primarily LEGO jewellery designers, but do offer a LEGO engraving service. They travel to shows in Europe too, so you may be able to order and collect from your local LEGO exhibition!
5. United Bricks
Famous for their World War themed minifigure printing, United Bricks, based in Scotland, also offer a custom LEGO printing service.
I’m sure there are other LEGO printing companies around – do you have any recommendations? If so, feel free to share them on our Twitter or Facebook accounts.
Recommended LEGO printing outside the UK
Printing companies in Europe
The UK businesses listed above offer European delivery; you can also find custom print options for LEGO elements in Europe below. Thanks to Elspeth De Montes and the members of BeLUG for their recommendations here:
Printing companies in Australia and New Zealand
Thanks to Ryan Evans and Richard Jones of Rambling Brick for their recommendation.
Recommended LEGO printing in the US
These US brick printing businesses are recommended by Cale Leiphart of Brick Model Railroader, and Tony Sava: