If you’re someone who is obsessed with the world of miniatures and the games that use them, you might already be familiar with the world of 3D printing. The act of bringing your characters and ideas into the real world by creating a CAD model and then throwing it into your printer of choice. But for those who haven’t yet immersed themselves into the world of 3D printing just yet, you might not have any idea how the whole thing works or what printer to get. Which is where this article about the best 3D printer for miniatures comes in handy.
We’re going to be sifting through a bunch of different 3D printers so that we can find the right one for you. Whether you’ve been printing for years at this point or are completely new to this whole thing. Either way, this list is gonna help you decide whether or not you want to upgrade your machine or get started with your 3D printing adventures. So, let’s get right into it and see which is the Best 3D Printer for Miniatures in 2020!
First up, we have the ELEGOO Mars LCD 3D Printer, a resin printer that has a lot of nifty features that make it a great choice for kickstarting 3D printing. Releasing back in 2017 and even after a few years this printer still holds up. Right off the bat, the printer itself has a look that stands out with its red shield that protects the inside of the machine itself. The size of the printer stands at 16.1” x 7.9” x 7.9”, making it a fairly substantial size. It’s also weighing in at 15lbs so it isn’t too heavy and should be able to be moved around with some ease.
In terms of the printer itself and what you’re actually getting here, it’s pretty neat. It has a very nice and clean 3.5” touchscreen display on the front that will allow you to control everything it does, from altering settings to starting the print. The LCD plate is a 2560×1440 smartphone screen with a max layer height of 47 microns that allows for really crisp printing. The volume of the printer itself is 4.53” x 2.56” x 5.9” which should be more than enough for most miniatures you’re going to make.
But if you plan on making anything bigger that’s where you’ll run into some issues. Its main and only connector is a USB port which should be alright unless you also need an SD card connection for whatever reason. But there are also a few things you aren’t getting with this printer too. It doesn’t come with a built-in camera so keeping an eye on your prints while they’re printing might be a little awkward. It’s also pretty noisy with a loud beeping noise that plays during the printing process.
The Dremel Digilab 3D20 is the next entry on our list and this is for those who want the functionality of a filament based 3D printer in a small and rather light package. Handy for those whose workshops change up a lot or those who like to pack their equipment away nice and neatly when they’re done. This printer is less on the flashy side in terms of looks, instead offering a small grey body with a silver bottom trim and a blue top cover. In terms of access, the printer allows you to take the blue cover off in order to configure your filament and generally access the inner workings of the printer. This is in addition to the door on the front of the printer that opens up like usual.
The volume that this printer supports is 9.0” x 5.9” x 5.5”, which is going to be great for miniatures and maybe some companion prints for them. The size is especially great when considering the size of the printer itself. It’s nice and small and weighs in at 15.43lbs so it’s a great small form factor 3D printer. The prints themselves are also great, highly detailed and the best part is that the printer isn’t that loud during the printing process. It’s fairly quiet which is going to be great if you can’t stand too much noise.
There’s only a couple of downsides to the printer, one being that the touchscreen is on the smaller side. Another potential annoyance is the lack of different viewing angles due to the sides of the printer acting as vents, rather than windows. It’s also worth noting that it does not come with a built-in camera, though it’s doubtful there’d be any room for one anyway.
Next up is the Sindoh 3DWOX 1 Filament 3D printer. Leaning more towards the higher end, this printer utilizes an open-source filament feature. Which essentially means that you can use third party filament materials on this machine, rather than just sticking with the ones produced by Sindoh. A pretty nifty feature for those who already have a stockpile of filament or those who value choice. In terms of appearance, this printer has a much sturdier build and a clean silver body.
Instead of a shield that you can lift off, it operates with a door on the front that acts as its access and a panel on top that you can remove for more access. The weight on this machine is quite a bit more than our last choice, 45.6lbs to be exact. Which is heavy and might be too cumbersome if you have an environment that constantly shifts.
This printer retains a few of the features that a newcomer to printing is going to appreciate. We have a 5” touchscreen that sits on top of the printer this time around which has the usual settings and print buttons assigned to it. Nice features on this touchscreen include a temperature reading and a small signifier in the bottom left that tells you which filament you currently have loaded in. The volume of the plate in this printer is 8.2” x 7.9” x 7.7”, which is plenty of room for miniatures and other products that you’d want to make.
Once again this is a printer with a USB connection only so if that’s going to bother you, then you might want to look at the other options on this list. There are Wi-Fi capabilities using the Sindoh app but it isn’t that great. Another addition to this printer’s arsenal is a built in camera to help you monitor the printing process. The downside to this is that the camera itself isn’t that great and it’s in an awkward position too.
For our final choice on this list, we’re going for the Monoprice Mini Delta 3D Printer. The little brother of the Delta Pro, this printer has an extremely small form factor. Weighing in at only 4lbs, it is the lightest printer on this list. Along with that comes a few design changes that might seem strange in comparison to some of the others we’ve had on this list.
This printer is completely open, it has no doors or panels or anything like that. What this means is that you get a full view of what is happening during the printing process. But you also get the danger of someone accidentally touching it when it’s printing or some other similar disaster. Ultimately if you don’t like the openness of this model then it really isn’t for you. On the other hand, it does have a lot of benefits if you’re someone who likes to watch the printing process. Unfortunately, the printer is very loud so you might not want to sit too close to it.
Now with the small form factor comes a much smaller build area of 4.3” x 4.7” which is indeed a small space. But if you’re buying this printer for making miniatures then it’s actually the perfect amount of space. Just don’t expect to be making massive prints in this machine because it isn’t going to do that. The connections on this printer are also great with it supporting USB, SD cards and Wi-Fi so you get plenty of options in terms of how to print.
It’s also got a pretty screen which is of course on the smaller side again, but considering the overall form factor it’s perfect. The screen isn’t touch-operated but instead has buttons to the right of it which navigate the menus. Ultimately this printer is a great choice for those starting out in the world of 3D printing but if you want something that’s going to be able to do a little bit bigger and more impressive, this isn’t the one for you.
But buying your next printer is a lot more complicated than you might think. From choosing the form factor of the printer to the materials that you actually want to use. There’s a lot more thought that’s got to go into it. Whether you want the printer exclusively for miniatures or maybe for some other builds is also another important factor to think about. So, if you still aren’t sure where you should put your money we’ve got a few tips for you.
FDM or SLA?
The first thing to consider is what material you want to print your models in. This choice comes down to either an FDM printer or an SLA printer. But what is the difference? They’re actually two very different methods that are going to affect your printing experience. There’s also a load of other methods, which differ from these two. But we’re highlighting these because they’re the most common and affordable methods.
FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) is a type of printer that uses filament. Essentially it feeds plastic filament through a mechanism that melts it down and it uses it to build out the model. This is the most common and widespread of the printing types and this is for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s generally the cheaper option, allowing you to print more without breaking the bank. It’s also an easier process that doesn’t involve you dealing with fumes and ventilation. The trade-off is that you might not get the exact quality you desire from your prints. Of course, this is dependent on the printer you choose to use.
SLA (Stereolithography) is a form of 3D printing that uses resin instead of filament. It utilizes a laser or projection to harden and form the resin into the print you desire. This is the more uncommon form of printing, hence why there’s only one option in this list. Resin printing has a few advantages over filament-based prints. Obviously the whole laser thing is pretty cool that goes without saying. But the end product is typically more detailed then you’d get from an FDM printer.
However, the entire process is a lot more involved. First up, the resin is actually pretty toxic when being 3D printed. It gives off noxious fumes which means you’re going to need both a mask and really good ventilation. The models also need to be washed in an alcohol solution and when you tally up all of the other stuff you need, it gets pretty expensive. This isn’t really recommended for those who are new to 3D printing but if you’re an avid printer already, it worth it to experiment with different processes.
How do you actually Print?
Alright, so maybe you’ve settled on a printer, got everything sorted out and are ready to make some miniatures. Well, it isn’t quite as simple as being able to immediately start churning out model after model. There are still a few things you’re going to need.
A computer capable of running 3D modeling suites (Blender, ZBrush, Autodesk Fusion 360)
A USB or SD card depending on what the printer requires
Spare materials (E.g Filament or Resin)
Once you have those sorted out you’re ready to do some 3D printing. You might also want to buy some sanding paper for the post process of the print. Sometimes no matter how good the printer is, you might get some jagged edges so sanding those down is a good idea.
Apart from making your own models, you can also download some templates from different websites that you can pop into your printer. So if you aren’t artistically inclined, don’t worry because you won’t really need to be. In the realm of miniatures there’s a ton of really cool designs out there which should be perfect for your needs. A simple google search is going to yield a lot of results so make sure you have a look around before deciding to make your own models.
Best 3D Printer for Miniatures – Verdict
We’ve come to the end of our list for the Best 3D Printer for Miniatures in 2020 Guide! Hopefully, this has either kickstarted your adventures with 3D printing or made them even better. If it has, why not let us know down in the comments. Thanks for reading!