Do you like making miniature models? Do you play tabletop games and want to expand your miniature world? 3D printing could be the solution for you! Keep reading to discover how to pick the printer or service that is ideal for you and your miniatures!
So you are looking for a 3D printer for miniatures? Better pick the right one. 3D printers come in all shapes and forms, and many are quite affordable. The sheer volume of printers on the market can make it very difficult to make a good choice, so we’ve decided to help you out with a list of criteria to judge a printer against.
Precision is likely the most important aspect of a printer when it comes to modeling miniatures. Measured in millimeters, this figure will determine just how small the smallest details can be in a print.
The technology and features behind a printer is also very important. SLA (Stereolithography) and DLP (Digital Light Processing) are both superior to FDM/FFF (Fused Deposition Modeling, a.k.a. Fused Filament Fabrication) in precision and detail, and this is definitely a factor to consider when choosing printers. Also in this section, we will be looking at any extra features and possible upgrades that could improve the 3D printing experience.
Build size isn’t a huge consideration for printing miniatures, but it is nice to have the ability to print larger models if needed. Therefore, we will be taking a glance at just how big of a miniature each printer can print, and factoring that into our final judgment.
The ease of use of a 3D printer will determine just how much work you will have to put into your model to get it to an acceptable standard. Some factors we will take a look at in this section are fine-tuning requirements and post-processing the final print, as the methods will vary between technologies.
Last but not least, our final factor to consider is the price point. Not all printers are affordable to everyone, so we will be taking a look at what each printer offers in the other 4 categories and comparing that to their price point to determine if you are getting a good deal or simply overpaying.
Below we’ve assembled a short list of what we think are the best printers you can currently buy for 3D printing miniatures, each with a short briefing on how it holds up to our criteria.
A relatively new development, Anycubic has released their first DLP 3D printer onto the market for everyday users. The Anycubic Photon has some impressive features and amazingly high precision perfect for 3D printing miniatures. Combined with an exceedingly low price point compared to most other DLP printers, the Photon really shines as one of the most affordable, high-quality 3D printers for miniatures.
Precision: High, 0.025 to 0.1 mm
Technology/Features: DLP, touchscreen interface
Build size: Small, 115 x 65 x 155 mm
Ease of use: Low-Medium, resin is difficult to handle and post-processing is messy and time-consuming.
Price point: Mid-range, about $500
More information: 2018 Anycubic Photon Review – Best Budget Resin 3D Printer
On the other end of the vat polymerization printers, we have the iconic Formlabs Form 2. Heralded for its superior precision and an enormous range of helpful features, the Form 2 is among the best of the best in SLA and resin printing and is definitely one of the best pro choices for hard-core miniature making enthusiasts.
Precision: High, 0.025 to 0.1 mm
Technology/Features: SLA, touch screen interface, automatic reservoir management, auto calibration, WiFi
Build size: Small/Medium, 125 × 125 × 165 mm
Ease of use: Medium, messy post-processing still required
Price point: High, about $3,500
More information: Formlabs Form 2 Review – Best Resin 3D Printer of Fall 2018
In stark contrast to the Form 2, and using a completely different technique, we have the Monoprice Mini Delta. Even as one of the cheapest 3D printers you can currently buy, the Mini Delta has an impressive range of features and professional print quality that make it perfect for hobbyists interested in making miniatures. As an FDM machine, the Mini Delta won’t be able to compete with the quality of resin printers, but despite some bugs and quirks, it has been reviewed by the community as possibly having the highest print quality of any stock 3D printer below $300, straight out of the box. That makes it a premium choice for those interested in 3D printing miniatures on a budget.
Precision: Medium-High, max. 0.05 mm
Technology/Features: FDM, WiFi connectivity, automatic bed leveling, removable build plate
Build size: Ø 110 x 120 mm
Ease of use: High
Price point: Low, about $160
More information: Monoprice MP Mini Delta – Review the Specs of This 3D Printer
On the other side of FDM, we have the well-known Prusa i3 MK3. Possibly the best printer you could buy for the price, the Prusa i3 MK3 has a huge range of bleeding edge features and amazing print quality to back them up. Besides buying an extremely good 3D printer, when you buy an original Prusa machine, you are entering a huge community of dedicated users.
Precision: High, max. 0.05 mm
Technology/Features: FDM, automatic bed leveling, filament runout protection, removable flex build plate, crash detection, resume after power out, easily modified/upgraded, etc.
Build size: 250 x 210 x 200 mm
Ease of use: Medium, must assemble and/or occasionally calibrate and maintenance parts
Price point: High, about $900
More information: Original Prusa i3 MK3 Review – Best 3D Printer of Fall 2018
A step up in price from the Prusa, the Lulzbot Mini 2 is a truly promising workhorse printer that is fit for 3D printing miniatures. Due to the release of the Lulzbot Aerostruder, an upgrade that will allow the Mini to utilize its high precision to print amazingly small details, the Mini 2 is a perfect choice for printing miniature models. Being intended for beginners, the Mini 2 is exceedingly simple to set up, with step-by-step instructions that will practically ensure that you are printing high-detail models in no time.
Precision: High, max. 0.05mm on stock printer
Technology/Features: FDM, interchangeable toolheads, auto level
Build size: 160 x 160 x 180 mm
Ease of use: High, although occasional calibration/maintenance is required
Price point: High, about $1,500
More information: LulzBot Mini 2 Review – Editor's Choice of Fall 2018
Another great option for getting a miniature 3D printed is to utilize an online 3D printing service. These professional services, such as Hero Forge, Shapeways, Sculpteo and i.materialise, will take your model and print it with exacting precision on an industrial machine with a variety of color and material choices, taking the hassle out of 3D printing.
The advantages of these services are many, not least of which is that you don’t need to invest in a 3D printer. Also, they will typically do any post-processing required, and your model is guaranteed to be of the highest possible precision and quality.
If you want to try one of these services and find the most affordable price possible, have a look at our handy All3DP Price Comparison service. Our engine is designed to find the best priced online 3D printing service for your miniature model, no matter what material you’re looking for.
Precision: Extremely High
Technology/Features: Varied, ranging from plastic to full metal 3D printing.
Build size: Any
Ease of use: High
Price point: Check All3DP’s Price Comparison Service!
License: The text of "3D Printer for Miniatures – What to Consider & Which to Choose" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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