Are you passionate about Cosplay but are stuck with bringing your idea to life? If so, this article is for you: What is the Best 3D Printer for Cosplay?
With the right 3D printer, you can customize every aspect of your Cosplay model and bring your imagination to reality.
The best 3D printers on the market make it easy for anyone to create fine detail and large-scale armor in no time.
If you are not using 3D printing for your Cosplay designs, you are losing out
COSPLAY COSTUME DESIGN CHALLENGES
Most people who get stuck when creating Cosplay models waste a lot of time in different ways. For example, they may change their design, settle with the way things are, or put in hours of work for minimum results.
All of these options do not lead them to get the Cosplay creations they had hoped for.
- Sometimes, changing your Cosplay model design may be necessary. However, the changes can quickly add up and lead you further away from producing the final models. This will leave you frustrated.
- When you settle with the way things are, you will end up disappointed. Most of the time, the details that you failed to achieve will burn you inside.
- Finally, you can decide to put more hours into the details of your models. However, this can mean missing deadlines or opportunities that you would have taken advantage of if you had your models ready.
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And the worst thing is to sit and do nothing. This will mean having an unfinished costume at home that you cannot wear or show off.
A few years ago, getting past these challenges was really difficult. However, today things have changed thanks to 3D printers
3D PRINTING FOR COSPLAY
3D printers have made the work of Cosplay designers easier. The various budget on the market can print high-quality Cosplay costumes in record time. Moreover, you do not have to be an expert to print Cosplay props.
There are hundreds of shared files and amazing prints all over the internet that you can use to get started easily with on your journey to using a 3D printer.
The best 3D printer for making Cosplay can be used to print anything; from your favorite sci-fi pistol to full armor sets.
However, with the many of them on the market, which one should you buy if you want to print Cosplay costumes?
Understanding your needs will make it easier for you to determine the best cosplay 3D printer for Cosplay armor or props to buy.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST 3D PRINTER FOR COSPLAY
The two main aspects of cosplay that set it apart from most other 3D printer applications are that the parts you’ll want to print need to be large and durable enough to be worn and used.
This makes the decision process a bit easier for Cosplayers as you should generally be looking for the largest 3D printer that can print ABS.
But let’s break those specs down into more detail so you can be sure you’re buying the best printer for your purposes.
The world of consumer 3D printing can be broadly divided into 2 classes; Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) where the filament is melted and extruded from the hot end to print the object.
And Stereolithography (SLA) where a high-powered laser is focused on a photosensitive resin-based material.
Both types have their advantages and disadvantages.
The main difference is that SLA is more accurate and can create more detailed parts. However SLA printers are small and so are not well suited to producing large prints that Cosplayers need, and the material costs are prohibitive for large parts too.
If you plan to make costumes to be worn, then one of the most essential features to look for is a 3D printer that can print in ABS material.
The durability of your prints comes down to the material they are made from. The most popular 3D printing material is plastic called PLA.
For most uses it is perfect, however, for cosplay, it does have some properties that may cause a problem. Firstly, PLA deforms when it gets hot. Most of the time this isn’t a problem, but if you were to say leave your PLA costume in a hot car, it could distort and become spoiled.
Secondly, this is a little on the brittle side. This means if you drop it, or are a bit too vigorous when jumping around in your costume, it could crack.
Both of these problems found with it can be easily solved by swapping to an alternative plastic called ABS.
ABS is tough and durable, and can easily withstand hot temperatures. Of course, there’s a reason it isn’t the most popular 3D printer material, and that is because it is harder to print.
This is because when it cools after being printed, it warps. So, you must ensure your whole print is kept at a moderate temperature as it is being printed.
This means you need a printer that is enclosed to keep the warm air in and any cold draughts out.
One of the first things that you need to look at is the build volume of the printer.
Every printer has a limit on how big a model it can produce and that is dictated mostly by the build volume.
The volume is defined by the size of the print bed and the maximum height of movement that the printhead can make, and is usually measured in cubic inches.
While smaller hobby printers generally have a print volume of 200-300 cubic inches (6-7 inches in each of the axes), you should be aiming at a printer with a large print volume as you can afford.
In most cases, even with the largest 3D printer, you’ll still need to print your costume in sections and then glue them together later.
The smaller your 3D printer is, the more parts you’ll need to split your costume into, and then the more work you’ll have to bond them back together.
Bonded joints like this can look untidy, create a weak point, and it’s more work for you.
Other than the two most popular choices of ABS and PLA, you might also want to consider materials like TPE or HDPE which can give you very different material properties like flexibility.
In most cases, you will require to print in different colors and materials to achieve as many characteristics of your cosplay as possible.
If you want to print durable and realistic costumes, you will need different kinds of printing materials and a variety of post-print processes.
Cosplay costumes and props in Sci-Fi genre may require a wide range of materials such as ceramics, metal, and wood. For instance, props such as shields and swords may require exotic materials such as PCT and PCL. You may also want to use metallic filaments to create metallic finishes.
No matter how you look at it, 3D printing is a rather slow process. I don’t want to rain on your parade, but there’s no way to print your cosplay costume instantly!
It takes a good few hours to print even the smallest of the objects. It should take you anywhere from 6 hours to half a day to produce a 6″ prop.
Fortunately, there are ways to make your 3D printer work as quickly as possible, and there are things to looks out for when choosing a 3D printer to make sure you get one that can print as quickly as possible.
They are well-designed and solidly built with high-quality components are much more able to cope with higher printing speeds without reducing quality whereas printers that are flimsy or poorly designed will tend to lose accuracy at anything other than slow speeds.
The easiest way to speed up the printing process is to compromise on quality.
For the most detailed prints, you would set your layer thickness to be 0.1mm but for large cosplay parts, this level of accuracy may not be required and increasing it to 0.2 or 0.4mm could easily halve the printing time.
Ease of use
3D printing can seem like a daunting task at first. If you don’t have the knowledge or prior experience of using one, you’re bound to get bewildered with all the options and parameters.
There are 3D printers available that automate much of the process, and in many ways, they guarantee success without much input from yourself other than pressing start.
However, these printers tend to have a limit to the functionality that you will soon reach and then feel frustrated at being held back from improving.
As with most things in life, you will get the most out of 3D printing by learning by your mistakes, and if you choose a 3D printer that doesn’t allow you to make mistakes you won’t learn very much!
So, choosing a printer that keeps the right balance between simplicity and functionality is very important.
Kit or Assembled
If you don’t have much mechanical or DIY experience, you may want to consider a printer that is shipped mostly assembled.
The assembly and set up of a DIY kit 3D printer is generally not too complicated but can be a bit daunting.
Many 3D printers available now come as ‘semi-assembled.’ This usually means they arrive in two parts which you then have to bolt together with around four or eight screws and a hex key.
Most people are more than capable of assembling this type of printer. If you have any experience of using Lego Technic or building your own PCs, then you’ll be more than capable of handling one of these.
If you choose an already assembled printer, you will only need to load the filament, maybe set the calibration, and then start printing within minutes.
Making a Decision
When you first start thinking about buying it for making Cosplay items you might have a Cosplay prop or costume in mind that you really want to 3D print and then base your purchasing decision on this one application.
For example, a particularly detailed prop that would just take too much of your time to sculpt.
However, it’s essential to realize that the more you use your 3D printer, the more uses you’ll find for it so you definitely shouldn’t limit yourself by buying it that will only be good for one aspect of your cosplay
2 BEST 3D PRINTERS FOR COSPLAY
Creality turned home 3D printing on its head when they released the CR-10 in 2017. That first model became wildly popular due to its vast build volume low price point.
The CR-10S is an upgraded version that adds an additional z-axis motor and a few other improvements and tweaks that make it more accurate and reliable.
- The most notable feature of the CR 10S is the enormous build volume of 11.8 x 11.8 x 15.8 inches (300 x 300 x 400mm). This is larger than some of the really high-end printers like the LulzBot Taz 6 and Zortax M300 and more than enough for most of your cosplay props
- Supports PLA and most exotic filament blends. ABS can print if you supply your own enclosure and it fully supports third-party filaments
- Power loss recovery system and filament sensor are a lifesaver in many situations
- It comes semi-assembled.
- Removable glass heated bed
- Intuitive but basic user interface
- The manufacturer claims that the printer can happily withstand up to 200 hours of continuous operation. many owners back up it, who use the CR-10s print volume to its max for very large prints. This is a very convenient feature for cosplayers printing large costume parts and props.
- Build volume: 300 x 300 x 400mm
- Layer resolution: 0.1-0.4mm
- Nozzle: 0.44mm
- Print speed: 80-200m/s
- First things first; it’s much cheaper than nearly all 3D printers with the same build volume
- The print quality is on par with 3D printers that cost twice as much
- Other than some minor issues due to inconstant quality control, the CR-10 family of printers considered very reliable and robust
- There is a large community of owners that are more than willing to welcome you and help in any way they can
- The open-frame design makes heat management a headache.
- Some variability in quality control means some printers require more tweaking than others to work their best
- The print bed glass sheet is often not completely flat. I was able to fix mine by adding aluminum foil shims under the lowest area
LulzBot TAZ 6
When choosing a 3D printer to make cosplay items, some of the most important factors to consider will be reliability and ease of use.
The LulzBot TAZ 6 provides all these in spades, as well as the essential large print volume, making it one of the best printers for 3D printing cosplay.
It is manufactured by a Colorado-based 3D company known as Aleph Objects.
It has a high price of the market; however, the high price compensated with generous build volume, faultless reliability, and more.
Despite the funny name, LulzBot has gained a considerable reputation for its dependable machines that are known as workhorses in the 3D printing community.
- It’s compatible with a wide array of different materials – PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG, HIPS and the exotics to name a few. It supports third-party materials.
- And comes with a build volume (11.02 in x 11.02 in x 9.80 in) which is pretty good for printing cosplay props.
- It offers features like auto bed leveling, a heated PEI bed surface, and an upgradeable modular tool head.
- This printer maintains the same industrial design as its predecessors as well as an open framework made from extruded aluminum.
- The Taz 6 provides a lot of improvements and new features not included in its predecessor the Taz 5. For instance, there is an automatic print leveling system with metal discs at the corners of the print bed for easier leveling. The automated print bed leveling makes it much easier to set up and calibrate the printer. Also, the printer features an extruder that automatically cleans itself, removing filament that may have stuck in the printhead, this helps to improve reliability and print quality.
- The enormous print platform features a plastic material known as polyetherimide (PEI) which helps to improve adhesion. The heated bed can achieve a maximum temperature of 248 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to the
- The all-metal hot end can reach very high temperatures so it can handle a wide range of print materials
- Footprint measures: 32.3 x 25.8 x 20.5 inches
- Weighs: nearly 14.9 kg
- Print Surface: PEI
- Build volume: 11.02 in x 11.02 in x 9.80 in (280 x 280 x 250mm)
- Max print speed: 200mm/s
- Filament: 3.00 mm
- Nozzle: 0.4 mm
- Connectivity: USB
- The extra-spacious build volume gives you the freedom to print bigger models or props.
- The print quality of LulzBot TAZ 6 is simply outstanding enabling you to print models with considerable details.
- Self-cleaning nozzle and auto-leveling print beds are two of the handiest features to get hold of.
- Reliable and consistent performance
- Solid and sturdy design
- The price is slightly on the higher side for an intermediate grade printer.
- The absence of Wi-Fi and SD-Card connectivity is going to be a deal-breaker for some.
- No controls on the printer
- The noise level could be an issue due to its open-frame design.
Okay then, decision time! Which 3D printer is going to be most suitable for you? And the truth is that it depends.
It depends on many factors such as how much you can afford to spend on evolving your 3D printing skills, how much build volume you are going to need, how many prints you want over a specific time, whether you feel you definitely would benefit from dual extrusion.
Whatever type of Cosplay props/armor/costumes you want to print, the budget Creality CR-10S is a reliable option and is many peoples gateway into the world of 3D printing.
If you want something more powerful, LulzBot TAZ 6 is the next step, but as mentioned earlier, some of you may not like the absence of the wireless connectivity.