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 resin 3D printer models you should consider when getting a 3D printer for miniatures. I am looking at the overall best 3D printer in terms of value, the 3D printer for large models and the best 3D printer if you want to print the absolute best quality of miniatures possible.
This article is focused heavily on getting you a printer with good printing quality for tabletop games or wargaming, but without breaking the bank. This means I only talk about resin printers, as FDM/plastic printers just cannot deliver details enough to produce a miniature of a quality that is nice to paint.
Update October 2022:
The price of the Elegoo Mars 3 has come down significantly in price over the last 6 months. It has fallen from around $300 to around $200. I did not include it in the article before because it was too expensive compared to the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro and the Anycubic Photon 4k. This has flipped and now the Mars 3 is the best value by far. So I am no longer recommending getting the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro, as the price is now too high compared to the alternatives (you can read my Elegoo Mars 2 Pro review for more insight on that).
Anycubic are coming out with an improved DLP printer in their Photon D2. That is now the route to go if you want to experience the quality of a DLP printer.
What to look for in a good 3D Printer for Miniatures
The quality of the miniature you print is super important. While resolution is important (2k, 4k and 8k) what is even more important is Pixel Per Inch (PPI) as well as the size of each pixel (XY resolution).
Lifetime and quality of components
Quality of the components is super important. It will make sure that you have fewer failed prints, need to change consumables less often and will have fewer calls to support and RMA cases.
Speed of the printer
While speed is not everything, it is nice to have features and a frame that makes sure you can print faster.
Extra features, or lack of them, can be crucial to how the 3d printer feels and operates. Right now resin printers are mostly competing on raw specs and are very similar, but that just makes the special printers more interesting.
Age of Miniatures is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more about that here.
While some of the products in this article might be review copies sent to us by manufacturers, they have no say in what we write about them.
We recommend the best products, not the products with the greatest affiliate scheme. Our opinion is not for sale and no one can buy their way onto one of our lists.
Best 3D Printer for Miniatures (for almost all people)
Elegoo Mars 3 Resin Printer
Best entry-level printer
The Elegoo Mars 3 (non-pro version) is a super value resin printer that consistently prints high-quality miniatures – even for beginners. Getting a modern 4k printer for this price is an insane value.
It used to be very hard to decide on the “Best Resin 3D printer for miniatures” overall. Not long ago I would recommend getting either the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro or the Anycubic Photon 4K and seeing which one you could get the cheapest. Well, things have changed.
Right now I would 100% recommend getting the Elegoo Mars 3 (non pro) directly from Elegoo and pay only $209 for it. This printer is brand new on the market being released in summer 2022, it is a 4k printer with an XY resoluton of 35µm. A resolution of 4098 x 2560 px on a 6.6 screen givesa PPI of 732. The build volume of 143.43 x 89.6 x 175 mm is not small, but it is also not massive. The standard exposure for a layer is between 1.5 and 3 seconds.
The Mars 3 comes with 1-year warranty on the whole printer, which is slightly unheard of (ussually the warranty on the screen is much less). Elegoo claims a lifetime of around 2000 hours for the screen, which is getting pretty standard. But yeah, that is a lot of models and miniatures you can print with that amount of time! A replacement screen for the Mars 3 will set you back $50, so not the end of the world when it breaks down and the warranty is out.
The Elegoo Mars 3 delivers everything you would want in a good quality 3D printer for miniatures, and getting into 3D printing at this price point is a steal. Yeah, you might want a bigger space for printing, but that would require you to spend a lot more money.
I recommend this price point and tier of resin 3D printers for most people starting out printing miniatures, 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 high-resolution prints etc). If you are a beginner, you will likely not notice what features you are paying for anyway with a bigger printer (also check out my miniature 3D printing guide).
That being said, the Elegoo 3 is pretty bare-bones. No fancy auto levelling, carbon filter or what have you. It prints, and it prints great, but that is about it. For what you pay I think that is more than enough.
Remember: I am not saying the Elegoo Mars 3 is “The best 3D printer ever!”. I just think this is the best bang for the buck. There is no question that there are printers that can print higher quality, have bigger build volumes or have more fancy features. So if that is the metric those are obviously “better printers”. But buck for buck, getting into resin miniature printing with this detail level for about $200 is the way to go. Read on below for other recommendations in if you are willing to spend more.
Read my Mars 3 series review here, if you want to know more about the printer.
You could also get the Anycubic Photon Mono 4k, which is a very similar printer in terms of specs and quality. The build volume on the Mono 4k is a bit smaller though and it is an older machine in terms of “features”. The PPI is slightly better on Mars 3, but it is likely nothing you will be able to see. When they are as close as they are right now in price, I would go with the Elegoo line as they have consistently impressed me more. But if Photon 4k is suddenly 20% cheaper in a sale than the Mars 3, I would likely go with that.
Where to buy your printer: Anycubic vs Elegoo vs Phrozen
I would go for either a 3D printer from Elegoo, Anycubic or Phrozen.
I would do this for 3 reasons:
- Their machines have proven time and time again to be very good for printing miniatures.
- Printers from all lines have a strong community behind them. Getting instant help from fellow miniature hobbyists for your exact printer is worth a lot. Also, you can find super settings for all the printers with almost all resins (which will help you dial in your details faster).
- Replacement parts are easy to get for all lines
- They produce printers for our exact use case (printing models at home for your own use).
In terms of customer service, I think Phrozen have the lead. I have seen much better communication and helpfulness from their department. But sadly, they have also had a few machines with really big issues (but so have some first iterations from Elegoo and Anycubic).
I have bought Elegoo printers for my own money and own use and have found no big issues. I have had personal experience with Elegoo customer service and they were helpful in my case.
You can get cheap machines via amazon, but mostly getting them directly from Elegoo, Anycubic or Phrozen is cheaper. You can check amazon’s pricing history via Camelcamelcamel.com to make sure you are not buying at the wrong time.
Best 3D printer for printing big miniatures or terrain
Elegoo Saturn 2
Best for big models, monsters, terrain, characters, vehicles and busts
If you want to print big miniatures 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, but without sacrificing the quality of the print.
If you are really into printing big monsters, large-scale models, vehicles and big busts, the size of prints you can do on entry-level machines will just not cut it. You will 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 glue together cleanly. Also, one of the great things about 3D printing miniatures is that as soon as you remove supports and cure them, they are ready – without tedious assembly (it is bad enough that you have to do resin post-processing).
So, if you want to print bigger models like characters, monsters, vehicles or terrain, you need to get a resin printer with a build volume that can handle that. It gets expensive not only because you need a bigger screen, but also because the larger the screen the more expensive it is to keep the resolution high enough to print good quality miniature. Roughly speaking 2k printer with a small screen will yield about the same quality as a 4k printer with a big screen.
If If you want to print big models, you should go with the Elegoo Saturn 2. It is very reasonably priced at about $550, the build volume is a good size for big miniatures and you are not making a great sacrifice with the 8k screen, 881 PPI and 28.5 μm pixel size. You can read our review of the Elegoo Saturn 2 here.
It was released in summer 2022, so it is not about to be outclassed by something new and shiny from any Elegoo, and Anycubics new line of big printers is not looking like they beat it. While the price might seem steep, comparing it to the competition makes you realise how much of a steal this actually is.
In the same price range, you find the Anycubic M3 Plus and the Phrozen Sonic Mighty 8K.
The printing space is roughly the same across all three printers. The M3 Plus comes with a 4k screen and a PPI of 734 and 28.5 μm pixel size, but is right now more expensive than the Saturn 2 – not the ideal choice then.
The Phrozen Mighty 8K can battle the Elegoo Saturn 2 on specs pixel for pixel, but it is priced at $900. So yeah, unless you are willing to spend big bucks on either an Elegoo Jupiter or a Phrozen Sonic Mega, I think Elegoo once against steals this bracket of big resin printers for miniatures with the awesomely priced Elegoo Mars Saturn 2.
Best 3D printer if you want the absolute highest quality
Phrozen Sonic Mini 8K
Best for ultra detailed miniatures
If ultra high quality is what you are after, you cannot go wrong with this 8k, 1150 PPI and 22 micron beast from Phrozen. Not a lot of print space, but when it comes to getting perfect details that can actually be a good thing.
Anycubic Photon D2
Best for ultra detail miniatures (in a different way)
I different approach to ultra detailed miniatures is the DLP approach. It has some serious pros and cons, but it is likely the future of 3D printing miniatures.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to getting the most detail on a miniature via resin 3D printing. The first is getting a printer with a small screen and high resolution. That way you end up with a high pixel per inch and a very low pixel size.
The Phrozen Sonic Mini 8K goes with that approach and gives you a sweet deal of 1150 PPI and 22 micron pixel size. You are not getting the most incredible build volume at 165 x 72 x 180, but if the screen was larger it would print with less detail. This little beast will set you back about $600, which is a bit steep but you can print some absolutely crazy good looking miniatures on this thing. Do note that you will want some high quality resin to go with that high quality printer.
Another thing to be aware of with Phrozen Store is that, unlike Elegoo, Anycubic and Creality, they do not have a way to ship to you from a warehouse close to you. So you will most likely encounter a very high shipping cost as well as various customs, taxes and tariffs. It is likely best to buy it from a local store or Amazon instead.
Now the other approach to getting crisp details is quite different.
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, the light will still bleed through in places where it should not, making the details less crisp and sharp.
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 and give crisper detail. Other benefits are very low power consumption, a screen that lasts a lot longer (2k hours vs 20k hours) and no fan noise – all this without any increase in print time! DLP requires special expensive resin, but you cannot have it all.
Anycubic only just released their Anycubic Photon Ultra before a new version is out, the Anycubic D2. If you want to try your hands with a DLP printer, that is the best option right now and will cost you about $660. But before you do, I suggest you do your own research to decide which whether DLP is the right way for you. But I am convinced this will be the feature (and then the race will start again from 2K DLP -> 4k DLP -> 8k DLP ).
The different 3D resin printer brands and their printers
So you got the 3 very popular brands that we have talked a lot about: Elegoo, Anycubic and Phrozen.
It can be hard to figure out how the structure of each brand’s printers are and their naming schemes, 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 (if I could find it).
The series the various brands offer are often:
- Standard sized mono printers in various screen resolutins (4K is now standard, 8k is next and DLP is likely the future starting from 2k and going up again).
- 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. It is not falling in price as much as the Mars 3, so I suggest not getting it.
- The newest version is the Elegoo Mars 3 (Summer 2022) and the Elegoo Mars 3 Pro (Winter 2022), with very minor differences to non-pro. The pro model does not really have super great things compared to the price jump, so go with the non-pro Comparable to the Anycubic Photon Mono 4k and the Phrozen Sonic Mini 4k.
- Saturn – Larger sized
- Saturn (Summer 2020) is the original big Saturn model. The Saturn S (Summer 2021) is an upgraded version of that (you can check out the differences between the two here). Both will slowly be outphased as the Saturn 2 is coming out, but it also means you will be able to get them for cheap!
- Saturn 8k (Summer 2022?) is a weird thing. I am quite sure it was released at about the same time of the Saturn 2K and they look very similar. Would go with the Saturn 2 instead.
- Saturn 2 8k (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.
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:
- PhotonMono – 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. Hard to find and sold out.
- 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
- Anycubic Mono X2 (Summer 2022) – While everyone thought the Photon M series was supposed to take over, here is a second version of the Mono X? Anycubic is weird.
- 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)
- There is just the one Anycubic Photon Ultra (Winter 2021) model.
Phrozen Resin 3D printers
Phrozen have an okay naming scheme. They have also gone with a system where the screen indicates something about the pixel size. Yellow for 4k and orange for 8k (and red for good old 2k).
Phrozen also makes the straight up “Sonic” line of printers. These are not included here, as they are designed for dental 3D printing – and I guess the price is quite extreme, as it just says “contact us” instead of having a price tag.
- Sonic Mini – Standard sized
- Sonic Mini (2020) – Outdated version. Do not buy.
- Sonic Mini 4k (2020) – The standard Sonic Mini. Comparable to Elegoo Mars 3 Pro and Anycubic Mono 4k.
- Sonic Mini 8k (2021) – Newest version of the Sonic Mini.
- Sonic Mighty – Bigger sized
- Sonic Mighty 4k (Summer 2021) – A big 4k printer
- Sonic Mighty 8k (Winter 2021) – A big 8k printer
- Sonic Mega – Xl Sized
- Sonic Mega 8k (Winter 2021) – A huge 8k printer
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:
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.
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:
- You put liquid resin in a small tank (the vat). The bottom of the tank is clear plastic film (called a FEP).
- 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.
- Above the tank you have a metal plate (build plate) that can move up and down (very carefully and very precise).
- 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.
What the important elements of a resin 3D printer do:
- 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)
- The metal plate moves down to the bottom of the tank
- The screen projects UV light in the shape required by the file
- The smaller layer of hardened resin is now stuck between the build plate and the clear plastic
- The build plate moves up and (hopefully) the small hard layer of resin sticks to the build plate.
- The build plate moves down to the bottom again and the screen projects light onto the resin
- A new layer of hardened resin is now formed beneath the old layer
- Over very many, many layers (1-2 k is not uncommon) your miniature will slowly form – hanging upside down from 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:
- 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!
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- A plastic thing to remove cured resin from the tank and build plate (most printers will come with it)
- Isopropyl Alcohol (or something close to that, as it can be hard to get)
- Strainer Jars (useful so you do not have to fiddle around in the jars)
- A mask (I got a big bulky version to be safe)
- Gloves (Nitril gloves and no less than that)
- Wipes (paper towel can scratch the FEP)
- A way to filter the resin after use
- Extra FEP for your machine (I would just get this straight away as you will break it)
- Mat (super useful to get everything with resin on it out of the way and cured before you despise of it)
- Old toothbrush (useful for scrubbing the minis)
- 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:
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
- 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).