The Best 3D Printer for Miniatures: Which Suits Your Needs?

By | January 9, 2020

If you enjoy printing 3D miniatures, then you’ll already know that there are a few things you need to consider when looking for the best printer: cost and quality. There’s more to printing off a miniature than just popping the material in and waiting for your perfect little figure to come out.

But even if you’re just getting started printing your very own 3D miniatures, the good news is that there are plenty of printer choices.

However, before we get too far along, let’s begin with some basics.

For starters, there are two types of 3D printers available to print off your miniatures:

  • Filament-based printers, also known as FFF or FDM 3D printers
  • Resin-based, or SLA 3D printers

Both options come with their own benefits and drawbacks, which you’ll want to take into account before you get started printing.

FDM or SLA 3D Printer?

FDM 3D printers make use of an extruder with a hot-end, which allows for melting the filament. Once the filament is melted, it’s then deposited onto the build platform. This is what creates the 3D model. However, FDM printers do so a single layer at a time.

On the plus side, FDMs are easier to use and come with lower operating costs and a larger build volume than their counterpart SLA printers.

With an SLA 3D printer, you’ll notice that the post-print process is a little messier than it is with an FDM option. Keep in mind, though, that FDM printers don’t offer the overall quality that an SLA printer offers.

With that in mind, which 3D printer should you choose when it comes to printing 3D miniatures? We’re glad you asked.

We did the leg work and came up with a list of the best 3d printers for miniatures..

AnyCubic Photon – Best Overall 3D Printer

AnyCubic Photon

Our favourite 3D printer for miniatures is the AnyCubic Photon printer. This resin-based unit can print your favorite miniatures with incredible quality. The unit is more detailed than almost any other 3D printer on the market and stays within a reasonable price range.

The Photon offers a maximum layer resolution that checks in at 25 microns, which is the highest of any of the products on our list.

The Photon is a top of the line SLA 3D printer that comes with a UV LED light source. Your miniatures will print from top to bottom. You’ll notice this is the opposite direction of the bottom to a top method that FDM printers use.

If you’re in the market for a 3D printer, you can’t go wrong with the Photon, which will create very detailed and smooth products no matter how complex they are.

Not much assembly is required with this printer. Right out of the box, it’s easy to set up and get going. The unit comes with a solid frame, along with a touchscreen interface that lets you see a preview of your miniature before it prints.

The unit provides an easy process for levelling the bed and ships with a slicer that users find simple and user-friendly. When it comes to creating complicated and detailed miniatures, the Photon is one of the best printers on the market for getting the job done.

Pros of the AnyCubic Photon

  • Simple and easy to set up
  • Print offline
  • Comes completely assembled
  • Intuitive touchscreen user interface
  • Easy to maintain
  • Print quality provides amazing detail

Cons of the AnyCubic Photon

  • The material can be on the expensive size
  • Smaller print size than other 3D printers

Wanhao Duplicator 7 – Best for Larger Print Jobs

Wanhao Duplicator 7

Wanhao 3D printers are one of the more popular filament-based brands in the market. They offer a wide variety of devices, so you’re sure to find something that works for you. For the purpose of our list, we’re going with the Duplicator 7.

This 3D printer is a desktop offering specifically designed for users who want only the best when it comes to layer resolution. Similar to the AnyCubic Photon, the Duplicator 7 is an LCD SLA 3D printer that comes with a UV LED light source.

While these two printers have much in common, they also have a few differences. For starters, the Duplicator 7 provides users with larger printing size. However, Duplicator 7 does not have the resolution capabilities that the Photon offers.

The Duplicator 7 offers plenty of features, including an excellent cooling system, vents that allow for increased airflow, and a solid frame. Wanhao also put the power button on the back of the machine, so you won’t accidentally bump into it in the middle of a print job.

So if you really like the Photon, but need something that offers more build volume, take a look at the Duplicator 7. It’s straightforward and easy to use and can print very detailed 3D miniatures.

It’s not quite as easy as the Photon, but definitely worth the money if you don’t need something as advanced.

Pros of the Wanhao Duplicator 7

  • Large base
  • Open material platform
  • High detail printing
  • Larger printing size than AnyCubic Photon
  • Sturdy and stable frame

Cons of the Wanhao Duplicator 7

  • Materials can be costly
  • Customer support isn’t very reliable
  • Build volume is limited

Original Prusa MK3 – Best 3D Printer for Beginners

Prusa i3 MK3

When it comes to value and convenience, it’s tough to beat the Original Prusa MK3 3D printer. This FDM printer comes loaded with plenty of features, including automated bed levelling, which is something a lot of beginners need.

The MK3 is easy to assemble. However, you might be waiting a while for it to arrive as it ships out of the Czech Republic. Many who use the MK3 would argue that it’s worth the wait given the quality and value the product provides.

This medium-sized, open-sourced 3D printer offers an open structure, which makes it great for both hobbyists and professionals.

The MK3 has a solid frame that includes a spool holder mounted on top, along with an LCD controller, which comes with a magnetic heated bed that you can remove if necessary.

Additionally, the MK3 boasts a high-quality mainboard that detects shifted layers and runs quietly while printing. The unit also has a filament sensor that can determine if a jam occurs and automatically pauses the current printing job.

With the right nozzle and the appropriate settings, anyone using the MK3 3D printer will get high-quality, clean, and detailed miniatures. The unit has the ability to print large models as well, so you don’t have to choose between one or the other.

Even though this 3D printer doesn’t compare with the AnyCubic Photon, it’s still an excellent option. It’s versatile and capable of printing with various materials right out of the box. Plus, you’ll get excellent value since you can use it for more than printing miniatures.

If you’re just getting started in the world of 3D printing and want a stable, high-quality 3D printer that prints miniatures in high-resolution, the MK3 will get the job done. It comes loaded with plenty of features perfect for beginners, so you won’t feel overwhelmed.

Pros of the Original Prusa MK3

  • Great for beginners
  • Automated bed levelling platform
  • Excellent print quality
  • Built-in filament sensors
  • Quiet printing process
  • Panic feature pauses print job if necessary
  • Magnetic build platform can be removed

Cons of the Original Prusa MK3

  • No enclosure provided
  • Translucent materials create issues with filament sensor

Monoprice Maker Select – Best 3D Printer on a Budget

Monoprice Maker Select

3D printers aren’t cheap, which is why it’s important to have an option you can afford on a budget. If that’s the case for you, check out the Monoprice Maker Select.

This company is known for its budget printers, all of which you can find for a lot less than other printers on this list.

With its open-frame 3D printer, the Maker Select is an excellent choice if you prefer the FDM route. The unit comes with a stable and strong aluminium frame and includes a separate controller box for the device.

The Maker Select comes equipped with an open-material system, heated printer bed, and a build-volume that’s perfect for creating your favourite miniatures. You can connect the unit through USB or print via an SD card if you prefer.

Right out of the box, the printer is easy to set up. It comes partially assembled, so you don’t have to assemble the whole thing yourself. All you need to do is make sure the frames are securely in place, and you’re ready to start printing.

Included with the printer are a few 3D model samples, along with some free filament. This gives you the opportunity to start printing once you have everything set up.

As far as print quality is concerned, the Maker Select runs about the middle of the road. It’s not going to blow you away, but it’s not horrible either. While the unit can print large miniatures very well, it does have trouble with smaller miniatures, like those in the 28-millimetre range.

Overall, the 3D printer is reliable and offers decent quality, especially considering that it’s one of the best you can get on a budget. If you fall into that category, the Maker Select is a solid option.

Pros of the Monoprice Maker Select

  • Decent print size
  • Good print quality
  • Simple to set up
  • Heated bed
  • Sturdy frame

Cons of the Monoprice Maker Select

  • May need upgrades out of the box
  • Bed levelling is a manual process
  • Not as good printing smaller miniatures

FlashForge Creator Pro – Most Versatile 3D Printer

flashforge creator pro

The FlashForge Creator Pro is a dual extruder 3D printer, which makes it one of the more versatile options on our list. For starters, the unit provides new ways for users to print with the filament. This includes printing in dual colours without pausing the current print job.

It’s more stable and durable than many other open-frame 3D printers since it is built with a robust and sturdy metal frame. It also offers an LCD controller, which allows you to print via an SD card, a heated printer bed, and a pair of back-mounted spool holders.

You’ll also notice that you can remove the acrylic covers, which is handy when you need to perform any type of maintenance on the FlashForge printer.

Since this unit comes assembled in the box, setting up the Creator Pro is a very straightforward process. You’ll be up and printing in a matter of hours, however, it might make sense to change the stock settings for better results.

Once you have everything set up the way you want it, the Creator Pro is an absolute beast. It can print for days with little to no maintenance required on your part. Plus, the unit can print with either ABS or PLA without experiencing any additional problems.

The biggest feature the Creator Pro has to offer is its ability to use water-soluble support materials. As a result, the unit can create more challenging miniatures that don’t skimp on the details.

Additionally, the Creator Pro can print with a wide variety of materials, so you’re not limited to just one type. A full enclosure allows the printer to maintain a stable temperature within the printing area, which is a must-have when using certain types of materials.

Plus, the printer can use filaments that aren’t specific to FlashForge. However, bear in mind that you may need to create your own spool holders as the ones that come with the Creator Pro are designed specifically for the printer.

Overall, the Creator Pro is reliable and creates quality miniatures. It’s versatile and offers many features that align with some of the best printers on the market. If you need something that does a little bit of everything, consider the Creator Pro 3D printer.

Pros of the Creator Pro

  • Includes dual extruder option
  • The metal frame is enclosed
  • Excellent support
  • Dual colour printing option
  • Supports third-party filaments
  • Solid print quality

Cons of the Creator Pro

  • Built-in software is limited
  • Bed levelling requires manual adjustments
  • Very heavy

Comparison of Table

 

Photon

Duplicator 7

MK3

Maker Select

Creator Pro

Type

Resin

Resin

ABS/PLA/PETG/others

ABS/PLA/TPU/others

ABS/PLA/PVA/others

Resolution

25 microns

35 microns

50 microns

100 microns

100 microns

Filament

N/A

N/A

1.75 mm

1,75 mm

1.75 mm

Volume

4.5×2.6×6.1 inches

4.7×2.7×7.9 inches

9.8×8.3×8.x inches

7.9×7.9×7.1 inches

8.9×5.8.5.9 inches

Connection

USB

USB

SD Card/USB

USB/ SD Card

SD Card/ USB

Weight

14.6 pounds

26.5 pounds

14 pounds

20 pounds

32.7 pounds

Where to Buy a 3D Printer

There are plenty of places you can use when you’re ready to buy your 3D printer. However, keep in mind that the type of 3D printer you want may dictate where it’s available.

Like nearly anything else, you can usually find the 3D printer you want on Amazon. If it’s not available there, you may also try other retailers like Best Buy, Staples, or the online website, 3Dprintersonlinestore.com.

If you can’t find the printer you want in any of those places, you can always try to contact the manufacturer directly.

FAQs

How Much Does It Cost to Print a 3D Miniature?

There are several reasons to print your own 3D miniatures, one of which is cost. The average cost of printing an unpainted miniature typically falls in the $5-$ ten range.

How Long Does it Take Print a 3D Miniature?

If you aren’t concerned with quality, you can print off a miniature object in roughly 10 minutes. However, a more complex, high-quality, and detailed object can take as little as a few hours or as much as a day to finish.

Take a look at the software on your 3D printer to get an idea of how long it will take for your miniature to complete.

Which is Stronger? ABS or PLA?

While ABA has better properties when it comes to mechanics, it’s more difficult to use when 3D printing than PLA. For 3D printers, PLA is ideal if you’re focusing on aesthetics. On the other hand, ABD is ideal for strength, stability, and durability.

Something else to keep in mind is that ABS has been known to warp during printing.

What Materials Are Used in 3D Printing?

There are many different types of materials that are used when 3D printing. We’ve mentioned PLA and ABS, however, some objects can be printed with titanium, wax, polycarbonate, epoxy resins, and even nylon.

What to Look for in a 3D Printer?

If you’re new to 3D printing, take a moment and read the following tips to give you a good starting point when looking for a printer.

What Do You Want to Print?

Before you purchase your 3D printer, know what you plan on printing. There is a significant difference between printing devices for your desk and printing large-scale production pieces.

Also, ask yourself how often you will print, how much time you want to invest in 3D printing, and where the 3D printed objects will be used.

What Safety Features are Available?

Typically, a 3D printer that offers plenty of safety features is well-designed. For instance, a quality printer will probably cool the heated bed and nozzle when a printing job finishes. Additionally, some 3D printers will point the nozzle away from the object if you pause the job.

Is Resolution Important to You?

You’ll notice in the table above that the resolution of 3D printers is measured in a unit called microns. Usually, FDM printers are on the lower end of the spectrum, offering around 25 microns.

By comparison, resin-based printers usually reside on the higher end, around 100 microns. With an FDM printer, you can quickly and easily adjust the resolution. For smoother printing, being able to adjust the belt tension and layer height is paramount.

Finally, remember that resin-based printers require precision from their lasers. Keep an eye out for a printer that you can adjust based on the micron count detailed in the printer’s specifications.

What High-End Features Does the Printer Offer?

It can be easy to forget about high-end features as you look for a 3D printer that suits your needs. However, if you want things like heated glass beds, touchscreen interfaces, and dual filament options, be sure to add them to your list of must-haves.

What About End-User Support?

You’ve found the 3D printer you want to buy, and you’re ready to pull the trigger. Before you do, take a moment and look for the customer support offered by the manufacturer. It is just a social media logo, or are there actual ways to reach a real-live person?

3D printing is more complicated than traditional printing, so if something goes wrong or you aren’t sure how to proceed in a certain situation, having someone to speak with could make your 3D printing experience.

No Lack of Options for Printing 3D Miniatures

Whether you have plenty of experience with printing 3D miniatures or you’re just getting started, there are plenty of options on the market that can get you headed down the right path.

No matter your budget or comfort level, you’re sure to find a 3D printer that works for you. It’s up to you to determine which one makes the most sense for what you hope to accomplish, but when it comes to printing miniatures, it’s safe to say you have a wide variety of choices.

So make a list, check it twice, then head out and find the best 3D printer for creating your favorite miniatures.

Author: Justin Caldwell

Justin obtained his MBA at Baker University. He loves learning and writing about smart home technology and has a passion for its application. Justin brings a wealth of writing experience to the Total 3DPrinting team and enjoys discovering new 3D Printing technologies that anyone can use.

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