Here are our top picks for the best 3D printers for miniatures:
Whether your goal is to print miniature models, tabletop miniatures, or figurines with high build quality we’ve got you covered.
Tabletop games have exploded in popularity and with it so has 3D printing miniatures. Before the rise in widespread 3D printing miniature makers were in high demand but why pay someone else when you can make them yourself?
Two types of printers come to mind when printing miniatures. An FDM printer and an SLA resin printer. However, an FDM printer is usually not used over an SLA printer because of the resin’s process for making high resolution prints.
So today we will just be listing resin printers. But how is a resin printer for miniatures any different?
How Does a Resin Printer Work?
A resin printer exposes photosensitive resin by emitting UV light from beneath to harden the exposed area layer by layer until it is complete.
But first it’s important to know that handling resin requires a few safety procedures.
Resin is toxic but nothing more than many household cleaners. Resins are classified as a skin irritant, therefore wearing nitrile gloves and safety glasses is proper protocol while handling uncured resin. If you get any liquid resin on your skin, wash immediately with soap and water.
What Makes a Good 3D Printer for Miniatures?
When printing miniatures it’s all in the fine details. Having thick print lines will impact a miniature greatly in terms of its quality. Which is why resin printing has become so popular. Resin or SLA printers over FDM printers have much smaller layer lines which come from the individual layers the printer prints to build the figurine.
Apart from high quality resin printers the only other variables are your individual print settings and your post processing. More on that later.
There are different types of miniatures you can 3D print such as props, terrain, and characters. Pretty much anything you can think of to build an army or world. SLA printers typically have a smaller build volume than an FDM but makes up for it in its quality prints. The best 3D printer for miniatures is a resin printer.
3D Printing Miniature Models 54mm and Larger
FDM printers usually work better for larger prints such as cosplay, prop pieces, or larger models but typically won’t compare to the quality of SLA (resin printers), so the common alternative is to use an SLA by printing the model in several pieces and adhere them together. Be sure to check the print volume of your printer to know what your maximum print volume is.
Specs to Consider for Your 3D Printer
Some basic key factors to consider when choosing your 3D printer are print volume, resolution, type of LCD screen, and printing speed. It’s important to keep these in mind to ensure your resin prints are the best print quality.
To get high quality models there are a few key factors to consider. The printer resolution, print file, the printer settings, the resin, and the print time.
3D Printer’s Resolution – Measured by screen resolution which is the number of pixels on the screen (most printers are 4K and 8K are the most common now). The pixel size will vary depending on the size of the screen and number of pixels per inch. The XY resolution is another factor of resolution which is measured in microns (lower is better).
Print File – How the model was originally sculpted and the detail it was given will make a huge impact on the outcome of the print.
Printer Settings – Not having your printer aligned and adjusted properly without any wobble can affect the quality of your print.
Resin – Your print can also come down to the quality of resin you’re using to print. Different brands create different quality of resins so it’s important to know what will work best for your printer.
Print Time – The time it takes to print can affect your outcome. Generally the longer the print time the higher the quality. A longer print time can help ensure you don’t get delamination lines.
What is the Best 3D Printer for Miniatures & Wargames Models for 2023?
There are a good amount of options on the market today for miniature printing. However, there are three big names when it comes to resin printers and that’s Elegoo, Anycubic, and Phrozen. But with all their models it can be confusing as to what to buy. All the printers list of great resin printers but some are better at certain things.
Let’s look at the top printers for creating miniatures.
Resolution – 35 Microns, 4098 x 2560
Print Speed – 30-50mm/hr
Build Volume – 143 × 90 ×175 mm
Exposure Screen – 4K 6.6” Monochrome LCD
The Mars 3 Pro is overall generally considered, hands down, the best 3D printer in terms of it’s price to performance. The speed from the Mars 3 is also one of the fastest on this list while still producing terrain models or miniature models with exquisite detail.
The resolution, speed, and build volume are all great for it’s price. The only main downside I would say is that it’s only 4K, but that doesn’t make a huge difference in terms of quality and for the price you can’t beat it, making this a good printer for miniatures.
Resolution – 35 Microns, 3840 x 2400
Print Speed – 50 mm/hr
Build Volume – 165 x 132 x 80 mm (HWD)
Exposure Screen – 4K 6.23” Monochrome LCD
The Anycubic Mono 4K is a fantastic entry level printer but don’t let the price turn you away. The resolution, speed, and volume is not something to turn your nose up at. It can crank out some amazing prints with decent speed. This is the best low cost resin 3D printer for miniatures. If you’re looking for an budget option with great resolution this is the one.
Resolution – 22 Microns, 7500 x 3240
Print Speed – 80 mm/hr
Build Volume – 165 x 72 x 180mm (HWD)
Exposure Screen – 8K 7” Monochrome LCD
The print quality on the Sonic Mini 8K is miraculous. With the highest resolution of 22 µm and 1152 ppi, Sonic Mini 8K is the best for highly detailed prints because of the highest number of pixels per inch on their screen.
When it comes to 3D printing small detailed models this printer does an excellent job at preserving those crisp details. However, speed is not your friend with this printer but what does it matter when the quality is chef-kiss worthy.
Resolution – 28.5 Microns, 7680 x 4320
Print Speed – ≤95 mm/hr
Build Volume – 250 x 123 x 219 mm (HWD)
Exposure Screen – 8K 10” Monochrome LCD
Anycubic won’t win any foot races on speed but it is doing a cool thing with their latest cloud service platform which allows you to monitor the printers remotely using their app. They also have more than 20,000 3D print files on their app as well.
The Photon M3 Premium is the rival to the Elegoo Saturn 2 being very comparable but it does pull ahead with the functionality of their app integration. If that’s not something you care about you may want to pick up the Saturn 2 for it’s faster printing speed.
Resolution – 28.5 Microns, 7680 x 4320
Print Speed – 30-70 mm/hr
Build Volume – 218 x 123 x 250 mm (HWD)
Exposure Screen – 8K 10” Monochrome LCD
With a 10 inch screen large depth, and height of 218 mm this is perfect for larger scale terrain models or figurines, and with a pretty decent speed at that. If you are printing larger models the Saturn 2 gives you great flexibility with its immense 10-inch screen to craft big world objects or characters. Even though it’s a big screen it has the quality side covered with it’s 8K high resolution making this great at printing models with fine details.
Post-Processing and Painting Miniature Prints
Now that you have an idea for which 3D printer for miniatures is right for you there are a few other things to know when it comes to owning one.
After you’ve finished printing your miniature there are several more steps to complete known as “post processing”.
Rinse off your print removing any uncured resin
Remove support structures (hot water helps)
Cure your print, either with a curing machine or just outside
Painting your model
To minimize failed prints check your print settings, speed, and your temperature. Warmer temps will help with breaking.
Cleaning 3D Printed Miniatures
Resin printing involves liquids which means that models produced by resin printers require some cleaning. After you have printed your mini there will be some post processing in order to get your print looking great. The first is removing the support structures on the model needed to complete the print which is very easy by placing your mini into hot water to loosen up the support structures.
Then you’ll want to cure it either using a curing machine, or just on the window sill or outside.
Finally you may want to sand off some of the unintended rough spots from supports or as a light scuff to help adhere paint to it.
Lastly you may want to personalize your miniature by painting it.
This is my list for the best 3D printers for miniatures to buy in 2023. There are many other resin printers on the market but these are my picks for the tops ones to look at. I hope this has helped you decide which 3D printer is right for you to print your own miniatures. Whether you’re looking to print small models or large terrains these resin printers will do the job.
Remember, to print miniatures that have a high model quality with fine details, make sure to get a high resolution printer with the lowest microns you can.
With miniature printing you may run into a failed print check your settings, the temperature, and your print time.
To print miniatures there is some knowledge involved because it’s one of those hobbies that balances both science and art but it won’t take you long to have a handle on it and be off to the race printing the best quality miniatures.
Did I miss anything? Let me know what your favorite resin printer for miniatures is down in the comments.
Where To Download Miniatures To 3D Print?
There are numerous sites for good quality models to download 3D files to print so here are a few popular sites with a variety of options.
SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse.
My Mini Factory.
How Much Does It Cost to 3D Print Miniatures?
Running costs consists of the cleaning materials such as gloves, cleaning liquid (isopropyl alcohol, denatured alcohol, etc.), resin, and any 3D files you may have to pay for.
Can FDM printers print miniatures?
Yes they can put typically the print lines on FDM printers are thicker making it harder to cover up with paint or post processing work.
What is the best material to 3D print miniatures?
Resins are what is used for SLA printers and there are many options but not all options work with all printers so check your manufacturer’s specifications on your printer.
Are 3D Printed Warhammer Parts and Miniature Parts Cheap?
If you are doing the printing for the most part, yes, but it depends on the quality of resin you use and the 3D printer you buy.
3D Printing Warhammer Models – Is it Legal?
Companies like Warhammer have legal departments specifically for protecting their intellectual property but if you’re wanting to use your prints for personal use there’s no infringement on their property and therefore, yes, it is legal.
How much does it cost to 3D print a miniature?
The main cost of resin printing will be up to the cost of resin which can vary from brand to brand.