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Best 3D Printer for Miniatures, Warhammer & DnD in 2024

Best Printer for Beginner's
Best Printer for Large Models
Printer with Highest Resolution

The Mars 4 DLP is a great printer for beginners. It uses a projector instead of an LCD screen, so there is no fear of bricking an expensive screen (and for beginners this is big)


For the price you pay the quality is surprisingly good because of the DLP technology.

While not the greatest of the greatest in terms of print quality (that is how it is with big printers), it is extrmely useful to be able to print big models and fill the build plate with tons of miniatures.


That is what you get with the Saturn 3. One of my all time favorite machines.

f you are just looking to print the best miniatures you possible can, the Mars 4 with an XY resolution of 18 microns is your best bet.


Overall just a great package with the best quality you can get. Also, great price, but slightly feature bare (compared to more expensive printers)

Best Printer for Beginner's

The Mars 4 DLP is a great printer for beginners. It uses a projector instead of an LCD screen, so there is no fear of bricking an expensive screen (and for beginners this is big)


For the price you pay the quality is surprisingly good because of the DLP technology.

Best Printer for Large Models

While not the greatest of the greatest in terms of print quality (that is how it is with big printers), it is extrmely useful to be able to print big models and fill the build plate with tons of miniatures.


That is what you get with the Saturn 3. One of my all time favorite machines.

Printer with Highest Resolution

f you are just looking to print the best miniatures you possible can, the Mars 4 with an XY resolution of 18 microns is your best bet.


Overall just a great package with the best quality you can get. Also, great price, but slightly feature bare (compared to more expensive 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 resin 3D printer models you should consider when getting a 3D printer for miniatures. I am looking at resin 3D printers from a miniatures perspective and will cover the best printer for various use cases.

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 (but an FDM printer is clearly the best 3D printer for terrain)

Here is a quick list of the Best 3D printers for miniatures:

Update Marts 2024:

We are in the process of updating this article with some new printers that have been released and have taken the spot for other printers.

How I select the best 3D printers for miniatures

It is quite simple really: I review a ton of 3D printers and my focus is always on printing miniatures for wargames, tabletop, or my Dungeons and Dragons group. I take the perspective of different types of people with different use cases for their printers. Based on my always-updated resin 3D printer comparison chart and my own hands-on experience with the printers, I select the printers I think have the best value or quality. My recommendations are not for sale and I try to have as little interaction with the manufacturers of the 3D printers as possible.

That said: I am biased. Everyone is biased. I tend to prefer value for money and 3D printers that focus on printing great quality. I hate paying money for features that I do not use, poorly implemented extra features (wifi connection on a printer that only works via a mobile app comes to mind) and clumsily made onboarding processes. If you are like me, there is a high chance that you like my recommendations.

Disclosure
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.

Update October 2023:

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

Print Quality

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

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.

Best 3D Printer for Miniatures: The Quick Buyer’s Guide version

So here you get the small lowdown so you do not have to read the whole article. First of all: buy your printer directly from the manufacturer. This will, in most cases, be much cheaper than buying it via Amazon. I have a table where you can see the best price we have ever seen for each 3D printer mentioned in this article. If you want to know the Amazon pricing history, camelcamelcamel is the way to go.

In general, you should go for the printer in your budget that has the lowest XY resolution of the pixels on the screen. I really good XY resolution is 20 microns and a low end would be 50 microns. Larger printers are often more expensive, but you will notice that they also have lower XY size than the same screen resolution printers (4k,8k, 12k etc) with smaller screens. If you read a review or a roundup that does not mention the XY resolution or PPI, chances are it is written by someone that does not know what they are talking about.

But even a 50-micron printer will give you insane details on your miniatures. All modern resin 3D printers (released in the last 2-3 years) will be great for printing miniatures.

Best bang for your buck printer

If you just want to get started printing cheaply, the last generation of 3D printers is often what you want to get. Elegoo and Anycubic will often do a big launch of printers, with a ton coming out in the summer of a year. Once a new printer in a series is out, the last generation of printers will fall dramatically in price. Think at least 50%. So once the Mars 5 series (likely later this year) the Mars 4 will start to become much cheaper. Never buy 3D printers at the sticker price and if you can, wait for a sale. Most manufacturers have a sales year around, but I have seen the lowest price on Black Friday.

Right now I would consider the Mars 3 to be an extremely enticing best value “bang for your buck” 3D printing option. I have seen the normal version of the Mars 3 go for as low as $119! I would pick that over the Anycubic Photon 2. While they are similar in price and performance, I found some issues with the Photon 2 in my review of it. If you have the stomach for it, Elegoo also sells used/open-box 3D printers. You can get the latest generation fairly cheaply that way, but it comes with an inherent risk.

Best Long-term budget printer

But, if you look at a 3D printer long term, the actual cost is not in the machine. The 3D printing supplies you use will far outweigh the upfront cost of the printer pretty quickly. One of the consumables you use in resin 3D printing is the LCD screen on the printer. A standard screen is rated for 2000 “on hours” and a new one will cost you about $50-150, depending on the size and resolution. So if you are paying $120 for the printer, suddenly that added cost of $50 down the line seems like quite a lot.

So if you truly want a long-term budget option, the Mars 4 DLP printer might be for you. Instead of a screen rated at 2000 hours, you get a projector that is rated at 20.000 hours. Now the best price I have seen for the Mars 4 DLP is $300, so it is quite a lot more upfront. But if you plan to print for a very, very long time it is the best budget option out there. A common mistake beginners make with resin printers is killing their screen by accident. This is pricey and extremely frustrating. Being rid of that anxiety is one of the reasons I like to recommend beginners to get a DLP printer. But: they do not have the best resolution and are quite small. You can read my Mars 4 DLP review if you want more insight on that. You can also look in the direction of the Anycubic D2, but that is right now more expensive than the Elegoo offering (and has the same projector inside, so is very much the same machine).

Printer if you are looking for larger models

A lot of people can feel very constrained by not being able to fit big models or a ton of smaller miniatures onto their build plate in one go. And yeah, everything I have talked about so far is pretty small. If you would I hate chopping up a big print and gluing it together when all parts are done, a small printer is not for you. If you find that 15-20 miniatures printed in one go are not enough, a smaller printer is not for you.

There is a ton of options when just when we go above 9-10″ screens, which will give you a heck of a lot of build volume. I am a bit of a budget freak, so I like printers that just do the basics great, and skip various extra features (wifi, heated vat, auto leveling and so on). If you want a big printer that with all the fancy new stuff, the Anycubic M5S Pro is pretty good (but I had major problems with the M5S in my review). Another great option is the Uniformation Gktwo, that also sports the sexy heated VAT (but no Wifi). Me? I would likely pick the Elegoo Saturn 3 because it is just so cheap and I like those kinds of printers.

What if I just want the printer with the best-quality miniatures I can

If you are just looking for the best quality of prints possible, you should take notice of the XY resolution and look at whichever has the lowest micron resolution. And yeah, if two-micron sizes are mentioned it is the largest one that counts.

The best printers for resolution will always be the smaller printers, because the larger the screen is the larger the pixels will be. Right now the crown goes to the Mars 4 with an XY resolution of 18 microns. And also it is just a great printer. Both the Mars 4 and Mars 4 Ultra has a tempered glass on top of the screen and a carbon filter. But the ultra version has Wifi and the ACF FEP (which I am commonly nota fan of).

The Big Secret: there is no “Best 3D Printer for Miniatures”

For some reason or another the text-based web have gravitated towards using the “Best Thing For Other Thing” lingo when making roundup articles like this (these articles are also called Best X for Y). The likely scenario is that people started searching for this so website owners started creating articles for it.

Now sadly, it is a quite stupid phrase because there is no best 3D printer for miniatures. Sure, there is resin 3D printers that are better than other 3D printers. But the best 3D printer very much depends on your specific use case, budget and preferences.

In this article, we have already narrowed it down a bit by saying that the overall use for this “Best Printer” should be printing miniatures. So already it is a bit better than an article that just called itself “Best 3D Printer.”.

This overall weirdness is multiplied by the fact that the difference between consumer 3D printers is getting more and more narrow. In a specific budget category, the options from the different brands are insanely similar. There are differences, and we are going to talk about these differences, but know that the differences are minor. You can be perfectly happy with printer X or printer Y. Yeah, there are some printers I would not recommend, so this is still worth a read. But I will often hedge my bet and put two printers as “the best” in one category.

Best Bang for your Buck 3D Printer for Miniatures: Elegoo Mars 3

Elegoo Mars 3 Pro
Screen Resolution (px): 4098 x 2560
Screen Size (Inch): 6.6
PPI (Pixel Per Inch): 732
XY resolution (μm): 35
Build Volume (LWH): 143 x 89 x 175
Best Price Seen ($): 150
Release Year: 2022
Check Price at Elegoo Our Review
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Pros

  • Extremely affordable 3D printer
  • 35 micron layer height is a great sweet spot for printing miniatures
  • Tempered glass on top of LCD screen (making it a bit more safe against spills)

Cons

  • Not a lot of extra features (heated VAT, wifi connection or auto-leveling)
  • Inboarding, UI, and manual are not the best
  • Not for bigger miniatures, models, and vehicles

If you want a cheap entry into resin 3D printing your miniatures, the last generation of printers will be your ticket.

I have seen the Elegoo Mars 3 (non-pro) on sale directly from Elegoo for only $119. Sadly, it is now sold out. You can still get some versions of the non-pro Pre-owned from Elegoo. If that is not your ticket, the Mars 3 Pro is still on sale. The pro version has tempered glass and a carbon filter, but otherwise, they are the same machine.

The Mars 3 is getting a bit old as it was released in 2022, but the specs are not that bad. And that price is insane!

A miniature from Tytan Troll printed on the Mars 3 Pro
A miniature from Tytan Troll printed on the Mars 3 Pro

The Mars 3 is a 4k printer with an XY resolution of 35µm. The screen has an resolution of 4098 x 2560 px in is 6.6″ large. That gives it a PPI of about 732. While never printers are better, those specs will give you damn fine printed miniatures.

Printing at 35 microns layer height is quite a sweet spot. You get more detail than the standard 50 microns, but it is not as slow as 20 microns. The build volume of 143.43 x 89.6 x 175 mm is not small, but it is also not massive. It will be possible to get 15-20 miniatures on the build plate in one print.

The left test model is printed at 50 microns on a Mars 2 and the right is printed at 35 microns on a Mars 3 Pro. You can see a slight quality difference in favor of the Mars 3 Pro
The left test model is printed at 50 microns on a Mars 2 and the right is printed at 35 microns on a Mars 3 Pro.

Elegoo claims a lifetime of around 2000 hours for the screen, which is standard on all of the LCD screens right now. 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 sound basics for 3D printing miniatures and it comes at an amazing price point. There is a chance you get this and really feel like you lack more build volume, but getting started for so little capital investemnt is insane.

Stuff that comes with the Mars 3 Pro
Stuff that comes with the Mars 3 Pro

That being said, the Elegoo 3 is pretty bare-bones. No fancy auto leveling, carbon filter, heated VAT, wifi 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. But you might be tempted with a newer generation of printer if you want extra features instead of saving some money.

Be aware that of prices before you buy. Resin 3D printers fall in price very quickly, so the best bang for your buck can also change quickly.

Read my Mars 3 series review here, if you want to know more about the printer.


Best 3D printer for printing Big Miniatures or models: Uniformation GKtwo or Elegoo Saturn 3

Elegoo Saturn 3
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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 a lot of 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.

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.

I used to recommend the Saturn 2 in this space, but it is simply not competitive in price anymore. This is a bit of a crowded tier, where it is hard to point to the exact 3D printer for you. So instead of giving one firm recommendation, I am hedging my bets a bit and giving you different options depending on the features you are after besides just getting a big printer. It is also a use case where the printers have come down a lot in price over the years.

I think the Saturn 3 is your ticket if want a printer a barebones, no nonsense big printer. The price is pretty sharp for a big printer that boasts an XY resolution of 24 microns. There is no fancy stuff going on here, just a solid consumer resin printer. And for whatever reason the Saturn 2 has not really fallen in price.

What I would very much like to do is recommend the big print from Anycubic, the M5 or M5S. The S in the M5S stands for “speed”. But that speed comes with some great sacrifices: expensive and instantly brittle “fast resin”, printing at extremely high microns (100 microns recommended) and the ACF FEP that blurs the detail. I do not thing I have ever screamed so much at a machine than I did while making my review of the Anycubic M5S pro. A ton of stuff is implemented in clunky and poor thought it way.

You could go with the non speed Anycubic M5 and that compares better to the Saturn 3. They are kinda of the same printer really. Things got a bit better with the M5S Pro, mainly because it now has a way to level the bed manually and it sports a heater. But that heater is again made in a “bolt it on” design way and not integrated like it is on say the Uniformation GKtwo.

So if you really want some extra sleek quality of life stuff and a big print bed, I would look to Uniformation and not Anycubic to get your big printer for miniatures. But hot damn, the price is something different. The XY resolution is great at about 30 microns, but the price is way higher than a bare bones printer. But depending on your use case, that heated VAT can really help you out when printing in a non-warm printing space.


Best 3D printer if you want the absolute highest quality: Elegoo Mars 4 Ultra

Elegoo Mars 4 Ultra
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If you are all about getting the most crisp detail you possible can, you should get the Mars 4 and print at 18 microns. Right now that is the best you can get, but it will likely change later in 2024.

Normally I do not think the “ultra” versions (earlier “pro versions”) are worth it from Elegoo, but with the Mars 4 and the Mars 4 Ultra it is a bit different. This is mainly because the price difference is (right now) so small and the features with the pro (wifi, better UI) is worth that price difference. In terms of screen they are the same, but the Ultra has ACF FEP (which is not great, but okay).


Where to buy your printer: Anycubic vs Elegoo vs Phrozen vs Amazon

I would go for either a 3D printer from Elegoo, Anycubic or Phrozen.

I would do this for the following reasons
:

  1. Their machines have proven time and time again to be very good for printing miniatures.
  2. 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).
  3. Replacement parts are easy to get for all lines
  4. 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.

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)

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 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:

YouTube video
YouTube video

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: