Best 3D printer for miniatures: Using a 3D printer to create your own miniatures can really take your tabletop design and game creation to a whole new level.
Designing and making your miniatures not only gives you the freedom to print whatever figures you like.
Also, it allows you to create your own completely original figures or even your own entire game!
3D printing your own gaming miniatures is a hobby that has an ever-growing army of dedicated followers thanks to the price of 3D printers continuing to drop.
There are now many different models available that can reliably print the level of detail you need to create your own miniatures at home.
When it comes to 3D printing miniatures, you must have reasonable expectations in several areas, including quality and cost.
There’s more to it than just loading the material into the machine and waiting for picture-perfect miniatures to come out of the build platform There are two kinds of 3D printing machines you can use to print miniatures:
Both come with a set of advantages and disadvantages that you need to take into account.
Which 3D Printing Technology Is Best for Miniatures?
There are two main types of 3D printers for hobbyists. The best printing technology depends on your budget and the kind of projects you want to create.
- FDM or FFF 3D printers (filament-based)
- SLA 3D printers (resin-based).
The most common technology for hobbyists is Fused Deposition Modeling or FDM.
These 3D printers use a heated thermoplastic filament to build layers. Objects are a combination of stacked layers.
These printers are affordable, but they require you to think about structural integrity and add parts that will support design elements with overhang when you create objects.
You can also find 3D printers that use Stereolithography or SLA. These printers tend to cost more, and there is a steeper learning curve.
These printers also use layers to create objects. However, they use a photosensitive resin and an ultraviolet laser beam that cures the resin.
The objects are more durable and have a smoother surface compared to FDM printing.
What to Look for When Buying a 3D Printer for Miniatures?
1. Precision and Layer Resolution
Miniatures are mini-sized by nature, hence their name.
Therefore, precision and accuracy are fundamental aspects of the printer you will buy.
Precision or layer resolution determines how intricate the tiniest of details on your printed models can be.
This refers to the height of each individual layer of heated plastic that is laid down to create the model.
The lower this number, the more detail that will be present on your model, yet the build will be slower.
It’s measured in millimeters or microns, and one micron is equivalent to 1/1000mm. Therefore, the recommended resolution is 100 microns (0.1mm) or even less.
XY Precision, which is the precision of the head movements of the printer in X and Y directions (all directions excluding up and down), also influences precision.
Metal constructed 3D printers provide the most stable platform in that regard.
Another determinant factor of accuracy is the nozzle diameter, which is the size of the hold that the heated plastic is transmitted through to design your model.
The most common and ideal size is a nozzle diameter of 0.4mm; it shouldn’t be larger.
If possible, find a 3D printer that allows you to exchange your nozzle with a smaller size, such as a nozzle diameter of 0.2mm, to give you more delicate details.
2. Technology Support
When it comes to buying a 3D printer for miniatures, you want the printer to be versatile as could be.
This is ultimately determined through the types of filaments and printing technologies that the printer can support.
Generally speaking, SLA (Stereolithography) and DLP (Digital Light Processing) are better in terms of detail additions on models than FDM/FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication).
3. Build Size
The importance of this feature depends primarily on the average size of your intended prints. However, it doesn’t hurt to be able to print models of larger sizes. You never know what you may need later on.
4. Material Type
3D printers for miniatures that are easy to use can go a long way in saving you effort, time, and temper as well.
Final prints require post-processing and fine-tuning, yet how tiring these processes will depend on the usability of the printer. The easier, the better!
The usability depends on the material type. FFF printers require that you carry out some post-processing techniques once the part is built in order to be able to get the highest quality surface finish.
If the material is ABS plastic, cleaning up your miniature after printing is effortless since it can be sanded and vapor bathed in acetone, giving a smooth overall finish.
As for PLA+, its sturdiness allows you to remove support material rapidly and smoothly without harming the miniature itself.
Finally, SLA 3D printers use a liquid resin material that has to be translucent to enable UV curing to work. you can print using castable resins, which will create molds allowing you to cast fully metal miniatures.
3D printers for miniatures generally fall on the pricier side of the spectrum, which is why you need to analyze your exact needs and find a printer that serves those needs, nothing more.
Many printers have features that can be tempting, so make sure you don’t make a purchase you won’t be making full use of.
Best 3D printer for miniatures
Comgrow Creality Ender 3 3D Printer
Ender 3 is a popular option among hobbyists because it’s affordable and easy to use.
This printer uses FDM printing technology. We like the simple controls and the resume print feature. You won’t lose your entire project if you have to interrupt printing for any reason.
The printer features a sturdy aluminum frame. It weighs a little over 17 lbs. The bed can reach a temperature of 230°F in five minutes.
The nozzle of the printer reaches a temperature of 490°F.
You can create miniatures with layers that measure between 0.1 and 0.4mm. The nozzle diameter is 0.4mm, which allows for detailed creations.
You can use 1.75mm PLA filament with this printer. It’s a versatile and affordable material.
You can send STL, OBJ, and G-Code files to the printer. You can either send files via Wi-Fi or use an SD card.
The printer is very easy to assemble, and several shoppers talk about making modifications to customize the printer.
The manufacturer of the printer, Creality, has a lot of good online resources to help you get started.
- FDM printing technology
- Heated bed
- Simple assembly
- Affordable and performing
- Excellent reviews
- Good level of precision
- Open frame
ADIMLab 3D Printer
This printer is another option to consider if you want to get an FDM printer. It’s easy to use and features a glass bed that heats up.
The auto-leveling feature for the bed is an advantage. Figuring out the ideal height of the print bed can be challenging when you get started with 3D printing.
The print area measures roughly 16x12x12.” The extruder operates quietly, and you can easily adjust the bed and Y-axis as needed.
There is a control box attached to the printer. We like the design of this printer because it features a basic frame and a control box that you can set anywhere near the printer. It’s convenient if you don’t have much space for your 3D printer.
You can work with different materials, includes PLA, ABS, Wood, PC, and more. And send STL, AMF, G-Code, and OBJ files to the printer via USB or an SD card.
You can print layers that measure 0.05 to 0.3mm, which makes this 3D printer one of the best options for precise results.
- Precision and high level of details
- Works with different materials
- Simple design and easy assembly
- Adjustable bed and Y-axis
- Supports multiple file formats
- Lack of enclosure
MONOPRICE MINI DELTA 3D PRINTER
The Mini Delta 3D printer is a pocket version of the Monoprice printer. It’s an FDM printer that includes features you would typically find on a larger model.
We like the sturdy triangular steel frame of the printer. The frame shields the printing space while allowing you to see the printer in action.
There is an LCD screen with simple controls. Having a built-in screen with controls results in a compact printer.
The printer weighs four pounds and comes with a handle you can use to transport it easily.
There is a bed that adjusts automatically, and the printer comes fully assembled.
One of the most interesting features of this printer is the ability to adjust the temperature of the bed and nozzle.
The nozzle temperature ranges from 350°F to 500°F, and the bed can reach a temperature of 140°F.
The 3D printer delivers very detailed results since it can print with 50-micron layers. It supports a wide range of materials, including PLA, ABS, wood, copper fill, steel fill, and more.
The size of the build area is approximately 4×4.” The small print bed is ideal for miniatures but might limit you for other projects.
- Compact and portable design
- Affordable FDM printer
- Versatile and great level of detail
- Adjustable temperature
- No assembly required
- Small print area
FlashForge Finder 3D Printer
This 3D printer features a semi-closed frame. You can easily remove the plate once the printing process is over since it slides out of the printer.
There is a touchscreen with easy controls. You can send files to the printer over a Wi-Fi network or use a USB drive. And can also access cloud-based resources with the printer, including a huge collection of 3D models from the manufacturer.
The downside of this printer is that you can only use PLA with it. The bed is non-heated, which isn’t an issue when working with PLA filament but limits you in terms of which materials you can use.
The level of the bed adjusts automatically. The print bed measures a little more than 5x5x5.”
The nozzle diameter is 0.4mm, which allows for a good level of detail. You can create layers with a thickness of 100 to 400 microns.
- Easy operation
- Good level of detail
- Sturdy frame
- Semi-closed frame
- 3D models available on the cloud
- PLA only
- Non-heated bed
Monoprice MP Mini SLA LCD High-Resolution Resin 3D Printer.
We think this Monoprice printer is one of the best options available for SLA printing.
This printer uses a resin and UV light to cure it. Printing with resin is more complex than PLA or ABS filament, but it results in smooth miniatures.
This 3D printer comes with an enclosure. You can use the touchscreen to create and save different profiles.
Being able to create and save profiles is interesting because you might need to use different settings and adjust the curing time for different projects.
The print bed measures a little over 4x2x4.” The printer weighs under 10 lbs. and is very compact.
You can create layers as thin as 35 microns with this printer. The height of the print bed will automatically adjust itself, and you can send files to the printer over a Wi-Fi network or use a microSD card.
- SLA printing on a budget
- Excellent level of detail
- Ability to save profiles with different settings
- Semi-closed frame
- Small print area
- SLA is more complex than FDM printing
AnyCubic Photon – SLA Resin 3D Printer for Miniatures
The AnyCubic Photon printer has been able to cement its position in the market over the years as one of the most affordable 3D printers for miniatures yet a reliable one.
Rightly so, this 3D printer capable of printing miniatures has never failed to meet the expectations of its users!
For starters, it’s essential to clarify the reason behind the attractive price-point of this printer.
It’s mainly because it uses DLP technology instead of the widely-spread FDM technology.
DLP stands for digital light processing, which makes use of a liquid photopolymer resin, which can solidify under a light source, such as high-powered laser or UV light.
In printer terms, the impact of this DLP technology is significant precision and accuracy in the tiniest details of your objects, which is ideal for 3D printing of miniatures.
Moreover, the layer resolution of the printer ranges between 25-100 microns, further allowing you to add more intricate details to your miniature without having to give up the print quality.
Furthermore, the printer is equipped with a 2K screen resolution, which is fine considering the price point.
With regards to print volume, the printer has a volume of 115x65x155mm, and it takes around 4 hours to 3D print a 50-micron resolution lattice cube.
Overall, the printer is more suitable for printing small models rather than large ones.
A major plus is that a few pre-sliced models are already existent on the 8GB USB stick that accompanies the printer, and the printer itself is basically ready to use out of the box.
Most of the parts are already assembled, while only a few remaining parts require assembling, which could be done in half an hour maximum.
When considering connectivity, you have two main options: SD card and USB.
As for the user experience, the printing process could be managed through the 2.8-inch color touchscreen.
The only downside to the AnyCubic Photon printer is its strong resin odor due to it being an SLA resin 3D printer.
It also contains a carbon filter with a fan from its interior, further adding to the smell.
Accordingly, it requires a lengthy and detailed cleaning process, including washing the pieces with ethanol, curing them, and cleaning the build plate.
- Attractive price-point
- Minimal set up required
- Decent print quality
- Compact design
- Custom slicer enabling functional support structures
- Strong resin odor
- Lengthy cleaning process
Sindoh 3DWOX DP200 – Best FDM 3D Printer for Miniatures
Finely-detailed miniature prints, a heated bed, and the ability to print both PLA and ABS make the Sindoh 3DWOX DP200 one of the best 3D printers for miniatures.
To seal the deal, it has an appealing design with a complete closed-box design!
The significance of the design is that it minimizes the likelihood of external humidity and temperature fluctuations impacting the print quality and print problems in general.
To further reduce possible harm, the fumes resulting from ABS filaments are mitigated through an included filter on the rear of the printer’s box.
For the fastest printing, the printer has a superior print bed, and you are provided with three detachable print beds that can be swapped and exchanged in and out of the printer seamlessly for the ultimate printing experience.
The bed itself can handle up to 11 degrees Celsius, while the 0.4mm nozzle attached to the print head can tolerate a temperature level that ranges between 180-220 degrees.
Both the hot end and the bed warm-up very fast, which in result make the printing itself faster as well.
The nozzle combined with the printer’s 50 microns maximum layer resolution, ensure that you get extremely precise print outputs, with significant attention to details.
With this printer, you can print models of size 200x200x185mm.
Unfortunately, however, you are restricted to Sindoh’s cartridge-based system when it comes to filaments.
When it comes to connectivity, the printer is compatible with Wi-Fi connectivity, USB thumbsticks or cables, or Ethernet cables.
Through these, you can both manage printing settings and transfer designs to the printer directly, or through the 5-inch color touchscreen.
The USB thumb stick and USB cable come in the box with the printer itself. It’s worth noting that the printer doesn’t support SD card connectivity, which can also be a concern.
- Detachable and exchangeable print beds
- Closed-box design to preserve harm
- Simple set up
- Detailed prints
- Compatible with printing both PLA and APS
- Fast warming
- Sophisticated cartridge system
- Lacks SD card connectivity
If you have some experience with 3D printing or aren’t afraid of a steep learning curve, we recommend the Monoprice SLA printer.
This 3D printer gives you the possibility to work with resin instead of ABS or PLA filament. Printing with resin will result in durable and smooth miniatures.
However, working with resin can be challenging, especially if you lack experience with modeling and printing.
If you are new to 3D printing, it’s best to gain experience with an FDM printer first.
The $160 Monoprice Mini Delta 3D printer is a great choice if you don’t want to spend more, but you should consider investing in the ADIMLab 3D printer if you want a larger print bed, or look at the FlashFordge Finder 3D printer we reviewed above.
The FlashForge Finder 3D printer can connect to the cloud to access a wide range of 3D models from the manufacturer, which is a great learning tool.