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Best 3D Printer for Miniatures in 2022 (Resin Printers)

Picking a 3D printer for printing miniatures can be incredibly daunting. There are so many different technical aspects and features listed on the sales pages.

In this article, I cut straight to what specs you need to consider when getting a 3D printer for miniatures and which of the various models and brands I think deliver the best value for you and your use case.

This is focused heavily on getting you a printer with good printing quality for tabletop games or wargaming. This means I mainly talk about resin printers.

What you should look for in a 3D printer for Miniatures

Print Quality

Speed of the printer

The quality of the miniature you print is super important. Low quality will be very annoying to paint.

While quality of print is very important, it is also important how long it takes to print your miniatures.

Lifetime of components

Extra features

Part of a 3d printer is expected to fail. How fast they fail is important to save money in the long run.

Extra features, or lack of them, can be crucial to how the 3d printer feels and operates.

Best 3D Printer for Miniatures (for almost all people)

Anycub Photon Mono 4k

Best entry level printer

If you can snag this on a sale, it is an incredible price point to get a mono 4k resin printer. It will quickly expand you collecting with hundreds of resin miniatures!

Elegoo Mars 2 Pro Resin Printer

Best budget miniature 3D printer

The Elegoo Mars 2 Pro Mono is a super value resin printer that consistently prints high-quality miniatures – even for beginners.

If I were going to buy my first printer for high quality 3D miniature printing today, I would look for a deal and get the cheapest Mono printer available from either Elegoo or Anycubic. I would not mind getting a 4k screen on the 3D printer, but it would by no means be my biggest concern (as it can be hard to see a big difference in print quality).

Right now Elegoo and Anycubic are both running hot sales on their entry level mono printers. Both printers are amazing and the price is just so good. From Anycubic you get the Anycubic Photon Mono 4k and from Elegoo you get the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro Mono. Since the price is very similar and the printers are also very similar, it gets very arbitrary to deem one of these 2 printers “the best 3d printer for miniatures”. If you can get both for roughly the same price, I would give a slight edge to the Photon Mono 4k – just because of the 4k screen. I picked the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro Mono, but this was at a time where the price difference was about $100.

Both printers have a mono screen, which means they print good quality miniatures very fast. Both will print 32mm miniatures in about 3-4 hours (you can make it slower to up quality, but it is hard to see the difference).

The mono screen also means that it lasts a lot longer than the old screens (looking sadly at my old Mars 1). As an example, Elegoo claims a lifetime of about 2000 hours on the Mars 2 pro mono screen (that is a lot of printing time!)

The Elegoo Mars 2 Pro Mono and the Anycubic Photon Mono 4k delivers everything you would want in a good quality 3D printer for miniatures, and neither will set you back a fortune.

I recommend this price point and tier of resin 3D printers for must people, unless there are some very specific features you want from the printers you find in the next tier (like getting a bigger print bed for printing larger models, getting very very high resolution prints etc). If you are beginner, you will likely not notice what features you are paying for anyway.

In theory the 4k screen of the Anycubic printer should make higher quality prints, but that is not the whole story. Only get the 4k screen if the printers are very close in price (the important part is the mono screen, get that no matter what you do).

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Anycubic vs Elegoo

I would go for either a 3D printer from Elegoo or Anycubic as they have a big following of people, so getting support from like-minded people for your particular 3D printer will not be a problem. Also, getting replacement parts for the 3D printer will not be an issue.

You can find good and bad costumer service experiences with both brands, but neither are very bad overall (and neither are amazing).

The warranty on the screen from Anycubic is only 3 months wereas Elegoo will cover a similar you screen for 6 months (but neither will cover it if you damage it).

I have found the Elegoo system very easy to use as a beginner and found no big difference when I have tried the Anycubic system. Neither is great, but it is what it is.

Feature image for the best 3d printer for miniatures

Best 3D printer for printing big miniatures

Elegoo Saturn 2

Best for big monsters

If you want to print big monsters and models, it is way better to print them in one piece instead of glueing them together. This printer will let you do just that!

So I guess it is clear by now that I think you should just get the cheapest mono resin printer from a reputable brand. But if you are really into printing big monsters or large scale models, the entry size of prints you can do on entry level machines will just not cut it. You need to print them out in pieces and glue them together. That is a pain to do, not only because it takes time, but also because the pieces can warp slightly in size making it hard to fit together cleanly. Also, it kinda defeats the purpose of printing – which is to have the miniature come out in one piece without any issues.

So you need a big printer to print those monsters in one go!

If I were you I would go with the Elegoo Saturn 2 or the Anycubic Photon M3 Plus. Both have been released in summer 2022 and has all the new features and specs. Both will have enough volume to print monsters or terrain in one big piece.

If you really want something massive and premium, the Elegoo Jupiter could also be an option.

Best 3D printer if you want the absolute highest quality

Anycubic Photon Ultra

Best for big monsters

If you want to print big monsters and models, it is way better to print them in one piece instead of glueing them together. This printer will let you do just that!

If you are just looking to get the highest quality of miniature print you can do, you could go for any newer 8k printer like the Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k.

But pixel density is only a small part of what makes it possible to print high-quality miniatures.

See, all of the printers we have talked about so far are mSLA. It has a screen and it blocks off the parts that should not be cured. But in this blocking process, light will still bleed through making the miniature less crisp.

Another way of doing it is using a projector and only projecting light to the areas that need to be cured (called DLP). In theory, this can result in more precise layers. Also, the projector can be more electricity efficient and can last longer than most screens. They are also more expensive, but you cannot have it all.

If you want to try your hands with a DLP printer, a good option is the Anycubic Photon Ultra. But I suggest you do your own research to decide which route to go.

The different 3D resin printer brands and their printers

So you got the two very popular brands that we have talked a lot about: Elegoo and Anycubic. I have tried both systems and found them very, very similar.

The Phrozen Sonic printers are also gaining popularity, especially when their Phrozen Sonic Mini 4k was the cheapest 4k printer on the market.

It can be hard to figure out how the structure of each brand’s printers are, so here is a big long list with some pointers on what is what. After each printer, I have also listed the release date for the model in parentheses.

The series the various brands offer are often:

  • Standard sized mono printers
  • Bigger printers with faster speed and more features
  • Even bigger models or fancy features or super big printers

Elegoo Resin 3D printers

Elegoo has these lines of resin printers:

  • Mars – The standard sized models
    • Skip Mars 1 and Mars 2 non-pro as they are outdated and not sold anymore. Only look from Mars 2 Pro on and on.
    • The Mars 2 Pro (2020) is at the end of its cycle and will slowly be phased out.
    • The newest version is the Elegoo Mars 3 (Summer 2023) and the Elegoo Mars 3 Pro (Summer 2023), with very minor differences to non-pro. Comparable to the Anycubic Photon Mono 4k and the Phrozen Sonic Mini 4k.
  • Saturn Larger sized
    • Saturn 2 (Summer 2022) is the newest version of the Saturn. I will be bigger and have an 8k screen
  • Jupiter – XL sized and fancy features
    • The Jupiter (Summer 2022) is a new funky printer. It is a full metal case 6k printer. It has an auto resin feeding feature and is massive.
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Anycubic Resin 3D printers

Anycubic is a bit more troublesome in their series and models, so it is way harder to get what is going on.

This is my take on the varius Anycubic printers:

  • Photon Mono – The standard sized base version. 1 generation of printers.
    • Photon Mono (Summer 2020) – The original version, now out of stock and outdated
    • Photon Mono 4K (Winter 2021) – The “standard” resin 3D printer from anycubic. Comparable to the Elegoo Mars 3 Pro and the Phrozen Sonic Mini 4k.
    • Photon Mono SE (Summer 2020) – A more premium version metal build of the Mono with a 3k Screen. Hard to find.
    • Photon Mono SQ (Winter 2021) – Mono with bigger build plate and 3K Screen. Hard to find.
  • Photon Mono X – Larger and faster. 2 generation of printers.
    • Mono X (Winter 2021) – Very popular super fast 4k printer
    • Mono X 6k (Winter 2021) – New version of the Mono X with 6K screen
  • Photon M3 – New mono line. 3 generation of printers.
    • Photon M3 (Summer 2022) – Comparable to the Mono 4k, but bigger screen and 3rd generation.
    • Photon M3 Plus (Summer 2022) – Comparable to the Mono X 6k. Auto resin feeding and wifi control.
    • Photon M3 Max (Summer 2022) – Super big printer
  • Anycubic Photon Ultra – super precise DLP printer (not LCD printer)

Phrozen Resin 3D printers

  • Sonic Mini – Standard sized
    • Sonic Mini (2020) – Outdated version of the Sonic Mini
    • Sonic Mini 4k (2020) – The standard Sonic Mini. Comparable to Elegoo Mars 3 Pro and Anycubic Mono 4k.
    • Sonic Mini 8k (2020) – Newest version of the Sonic Mini. Hot screen!
  • Sonic Mighty – Bigger sized
  • Sonic Mega – Xl Sized

Other lesser-known resin 3D printing brands:

Some, like Creality or Prusa make very popular FDM printers, but their resin printers are not super popular.

So yeah, options are not what is lacking in terms brands and various printers. What I would worry about with the lesser known brands is customer service if something breaks and getting parts for the screen, FEP and so on (parts of the printer that will break at some point). At least I would make sure that the FEP and the screen is in standars sizes so I can get a replacment easily.

I have only worked with resin printers from the Elegoo, Anycubic and Phrozen brands so that is what I am recomending.

Other 3D printers I would recommend getting (or that I have been tempted by) are:

  • Small super hight quality: Phrozen Sonic 8k
  • Big high quality printer: The Ibee from Uniz
  • Next big tech upgrade: Anycubic Photon Ultra

2k, VS 4k Vs 8k 3D printing screen

So this is a bit of a hot topic and something I will only briefly cover here. While the resolution of the screen is important for quality of prints, it is by no means the only spec you should look into. There are so many various factors in terms of printing high quality models. I suggest you do your own research if you are interested in this topic:

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What to look for in a 3D printer for Miniatures

There are a lot of 3D printers on the market. Too many really. They vary a tiny bit in weird specs and different versions – that essentially do not really matter to how they print miniatures. Oh yeah, and the naming conventions and schemes are of course convoluted and not straightforward.

So cutting through all of the tech jargon and BS, we can dramatically cut down on the options you should consider when getting a printer for miniatures.

Resin printing: what it is and how it works

Resin printing has been around for a long time, but it is only in recent years that the price of home printers have gone down AND the quality has gone way up. This means that you can now buy a very cheap resin printer and print miniatures that are comparable (and sometimes better) in detail and quality than what you can buy in a store.

Couple that with the surge of pro, ready-made, super sweet sculpted printing files that are flowing out of various Patreons each month and you can see why this 3D printing thing is becoming so damn popular.

Just the recent files I got from being a Patreon supporter of Titan Forge Miniatures

In tech jargon resin 3D printing is called SLA or MSLA. But resin 3D printing is actually quite simple to understand:

Important elements of a resin 3D printer:

  1. You put liquid resin in a small tank (the vat). The bottom of the tank is clear plastic film (called a FEP).
  2. Underneath the tank you have a small screen (or a projector) that can project light up into the resin above. The light contains UV rays and the liquid resin will harden when UV light hits it.
  3. Above the tank you have a metal plate (build plate) that can move up and down (very carefully and very precise).
  4. You have some hardware and software inside the machine. You can input a figure (on a file on a USB stick) into the machine telling it the dimensions and shapes of the figure – as well as a lot of variables of speed, timings and so on.
Getting some sweet zombies ready to print in Chitubox

What the important elements of a resin 3D printer do:

  1. You insert a usb stick with the file with the miniature on it you want to print (right now a lot of people use Chitubox to get the file ready to print, also called sliced)
  2. The metal plate moves down to the bottom of the tank
  3. The screen projects UV light in the shape required by the file
  4. The smaller layer of hardened resin is now stuck between the build plate and the clear plastic
  5. The build plate moves up and (hopefully) the small hard layer of resin sticks to the build plate.
  6. The build plate moves down to the bottom again and the screen projects light onto the resin
  7. A new layer of hardened resin is now formed beneath the old layer
  8. Over very many, many layers (1-2 k is not uncommon) your miniature will slowly form – hanging upside down from the build plate
A finished print hanging upside down on the build plate

Specs of a Resin 3D printer you should worry about

Now that you (roughly) understand how resin 3D printing works, you are also better qualified to know what elements are important in a 3D printer.

Things that are important:

1. The height of the layers:

Bigger layers will mean less precise details, so you want a printer that can print small layers. I print with a layer height between 0.03-0.004 mm (so it is not uncommon to have 1000-2000 layers on a single miniature).

Most (if not all) mainstream, home resin printers will easily give you the option of running layers that small and down to 0.01mm. So while layer height is super important, new printers will be the same in this regard.

2. The precision of the screen

A lot of resin printers have used normal phone screens. These are great because they are cheap and the pixel density is quite good. The resolution and pixel density of the screen will help with making a more fine detail miniature, so more is better here (think 4k screen is super good, 2k screen is good).

The 4k printers have come down in price, so they are now a super good budget option.

3. The quickness and durability of the screen

When I bought my first resin printer I was amassed at how many parts of the printer I should expect to replace after not very long usage time. The screen is one of those things that will break down after using it, and the lifespan you can expect from it is not that long.

Not very long after I bought into 3D printing, mono screens became a thing. I will not go into the technical details (nor pretend that I understand them), but the gist is this: a mono screen will print the layers faster and it will last a lot more hours.

Manufacturers say things like: 3 times faster layer curing time and 4 times longer durability than earlier screens.

As an example: my old Elegoo 1 printer would take at least 10 hours something that I could print in better quality in 3-4 hours on my Elegoo 2 pro.

So any “best 3D printer for miniatures” must have a mono screen – and you should NOT buy one without it (I certainly super regret my first purchase now that this mono upgrade is here).

4. Size of build plate (and screen) + height of machine

Super cheap printers will most of the time have a small screen and build plate. When printing resin miniatures, it does not matter how many miniatures you print at the same time – the height will determine how long it takes. So printing 10x32mm miniatures or 1x32mm miniature will take the same time.

So if you want to print a lot of miniatures, or some big ones, it is best to get a printer with a good-sized build plate and screen, as this determines how much you can print simultaneously.

Also, how high can the printer go up? You can only print as high as the build plate can move up, so if you want to printer super big things (without breaking them up into smaller parts), you will need to make sure the machine is high enough for it.

5. Build quality

After getting really into 3D printing, I have realised that a lot of printers are very much the same. What they will skimp on to make their printer price competitively is sometimes the build quality (and most of the time size). Precisions is super key with high detail printing, as we are talking about 0.01mm making a difference here. You do not want cheap plastic that breaks down quickly or bends. So I suggest getting a popular printer from a well-known brand. That way you make sure that the motor and parts will not break down on you instantly (and that when something breaks you know you can get a replacement part).

6. Other features

Various extra features will come in handy as well. A good usb stick (most are super crap), a carbon filter, a good fan that does not spin constantly and make super annoying noise, having the UI and user screen be good, a rubber seal that will keep the toxic air inside and so on are all great things to have.

All that said, be careful with paying for extra features. As an example: the difference in price between the Elegoo Mars 2 Mono and 2 Mono Pro is right now 70 USD. The difference between the two are basicly super minor details, that you might not notice unless you had them both. Wether or not those extra features are worth that much is hard to know before you have printed for a while.

7. Good printing files

Now, this is not really anything about the printer, but remember this: the print will only be as good quality as the file you are inputting. So if you want good quality printed miniatures, you will need good quality files.

Why Plastic FDM printers are not good enough for printing miniatures

There are basically two different ways of printing miniatures: Plastic or resin. Inside each category, there are a lot of different ways of printing, but that does not really matter. Right now printers that print in plastic use plastic rolls of filament (in tech jargon they are called “SLS” or FDM printers).

Most FDM printers heat up the plastic and drip it down into the shape it needs to be on a plate.

The plus side of printing with plastic is that printing terrain or massive things is easy because the area you can print on is bigger. And plastic is cheap, durable and not very toxic (terrain gets thrown around a lot, so needs to be durable).

You can print a lot of things on an fdm printer, but what you will find is that the detail is not super good. The smallest layers that a plastic printer can print are so big that you can see each layer with the naked eye. Each other article that says a plastic printer is good for printing miniatures are definitely not serious about painting those miniatures afterwards.

So if you try to print a miniature in plastic, you will see small rings on the miniature, which is the layers. These are a pain to try and clean up and they are a super bad experience to try and paint on (at least if you are trying to paint something decent).

If you bought a miniature in a shop that had that kind of quality, you would certainly return it. It is fine for big stuff or small tokens, where the superfine detail is less important. But the cleaning time and end result are just way off the quality you need for a good painting experience.

Also, while the fdm printers have become easier to use, you will need to spend a lot of time trying to calibrate the different settings to avoid having your print fail. What you will soon figure out in your 3D printing journey, is that failed print is no fun at all.

I view a plastic printer more as a second 3D printer, when you have a resin printer and know that this is something you enjoy.

For terrain, this is another matter. Big towers are hard to print with resin, because you are limited in how big of a print you can do. So not only do you have to print your terrain in a few pieces, it will also be quite expensive in the long run (resin is not super cheap). So if you are after terrain or big printing, plastic might be the way for you.

But be warned: while resin printing can be frustrating, plastic printing is even more of a beast. You can end up spending a lot of time just getting the damn thing to produce some okayish results.

If you want to print Miniatures you want a resin 3D printer that can print in high detail. Lucky for you, in recent years they have come down dramatically in price and ease of use.

What printers do I consider in my “Best 3D printer for miniatures”?

So what I am looking for is a printer that will combine price, ease of use, print speed, print quality and extra features into one great package. You know that sweet spot where the value is just right on.

My biggest takeaway from buying a printer myself and looking at all of the options is that the more expensive options of 3D printers do not really give you better quality prints – but they might give you the ability to print faster, print more miniatures at a time or ease of use features.

As an example, no matter what version of the Elegoo Mars printer you buy, they can all print miniatures of the almost the exact same detail and quality. They will not differ super much in build quality and features, but the screen can make a huge difference.

So a lot of the printers are basically the same specs, with slight differences that won’t really matter unless you really print a lot of minis (like non-stop all day and night) or you a want a huge build plate +screen and loads of space to print on (for big miniatures).

So I am cutting through the crap here and just giving you options I actually think you should consider if you want the best 3D printer for miniatures.

Things you should consider before buying a 3D printer for miniatures

When I bought my first 3D printer I went with a very standard, super cheap solution in the Elegoo Mars (no pro or 2 or anything).

My thinking was this:

“It seems all printer are capable of comporable detail quality. I have no idea what makes the expensive printers better and I am nervous I will wreck something. Let me just jump in at the shallow water and go for them there.”

Now getting in cheap was super, but if I could make another decision today I absolutely would. While I still think most printers are capable of mostly the same detail, the things you get with a more expensive machine is:

Speed of printing and ease of use stuff.

So my Elegoo Mars is sloooow. Not so long after I made my purchase the mono versions of printers came out. It is just a fancy way of saying that they cure the resin faster, so they can make the same number and detail of layers much quicker. So I really wish I would have waited for that.

The other thing I am bummed about is the areas where they have cheaped out on building the thing. My build plate wobbles every time I take a print of, so it means I need to relevel the printer after each print. That is time-consuming and very annoying. Also, why is the USB on the back so I have to move my printer around?!

But there were a few other things I had wanted to know before getting into 3D printing:

  1. Printing highly detailed miniatures is super duper fun. Now, I sorta figured it would be cool, but I had no idea how much freedom it can give you. Need some extra Blitzerz for you Blood Bowl team? Print them. Need some heads for a kitbash? Print them. Need a whole new warband for a skirmish game? Just print them!
  2. Resin is super toxic. While I knew that going in, I sort of had the idea that I could put in room where no one where to go in, print things and all would be great. While the smell is not bad, the air is still toxic and it would seep into the wood and other things in the room. Not great. So be ready to have a dedicated, super well-ventilated area to print in
  3. You need a stable and warm area to print in: Most resin will work best in an environment that is about 25 degrees and on a plane surface that does not move. Combine that with the toxicity issue, and it can suddenly be hard to figure out where you should install your printer.
  4. Things on your printer will break and fall apart. The warranty on the screen and FEP on the printer is super short (think 3 months, depending on the printer). This is because these things will degrade and fast. So you should add that into your calculations on how much this printing experience will cost you.
  5. Your prints will fail. It is quite normal to get bursts of failed prints, where the miniatures will not come out looking as intended. You need to troubleshoot your process and figure out what is going wrong. For some, this is a complete headache and not something they want to spend their time on. This can suddenly turn into a new hobby.
  6. The post-printing process is time-consuming. After the print is done, you need to clean it in alcohol and water and dry the resin further in UV-light. Once you get the process down it is easy, but it also takes some time.
  7. There are a load of extra things you need to buy. While getting my actual printer was super cheap all of the extra stuff for cleaning, the resin, files and so on quickly added up and it become a bigger investment that I had initially though it would be.
  8. You can suddenly end up with A LOT of miniature files and also a lot of unpainted printed miniatures. While that is cool and sort of the paint, think about a way to store all of those files (and a system to keep them organized) as well as a way to get those minis painted!

Other things you need to buy to print miniatures

I will not go into super much detail about it here, but instead cover that in my beginners guide to 3D printing. So I will just make a list of all of the equipment you will actually need for the printing proces:

  1. Resin: I have mostly used the Elegoo Gray resin with great success. You can also get coloured stuff, but I find it is annoying to work with (priming it can be a bit of a pain). The resin can also be more rubbery, but not really my style.
  2. A plastic thing to remove cured resin from the tank and build plate (most printers will come with it)
  3. Isopropyl Alcohol (or something close to that, as it can be hard to get)
  4. Strainer Jars (useful so you do not have to fiddle around in the jars)
  5. A mask (I got a big bulky version to be safe)
  6. Gloves (Nitril gloves and no less than that)
  7. Wipes (paper towel can scratch the FEP)
  8. A way to filter the resin after use
  9. Extra FEP for your machine (I would just get this straight away as you will break it)
  10. Mat (super useful to get everything with resin on it out of the way and cured before you despise of it)
  11. Old toothbrush (useful for scrubbing the minis)
  12. UV light thing (I just use the sun instead, but whatever suits you)

You could also get a wash and cure machine if this process is really something you hate. But they are expensive and a bit of a waste of money in my opinion.

Where to get miniature files for 3D printing and tabletop games

Now this is super important and something I used quite a lot of time on. You got 3 main places to get good quality miniature 3D printing files:

  1. Patreon
  2. Kickstarter
  3. MyMiniFactory

What you want to look for is cool looking minis that are pre-supported. If they are not, you will have to spend time making small supports in a computer program. While that is cool and all it is also super time consuming (and hard in the beginning). So starting out, get something that is just ready to print.

I have made a whole article covering how to get the best 3D printing files for miniatures.

Some good kickstarters are:

  • Titan Forge
  • Artisan Guild
  • Punga
  • Arhvilian Games
  • Duncan Shadow

And if you decide to start printing, a good game to start playing with printed miniatures is Bloodfields (you can check our introduction to Bloodfields here).

Other great resources: