Best 3D Printers for Miniatures – A Hobbyist’s Guide

 

Best 3D Printers for Miniatures – A Hobbyist’s Guide

In this epic guide, we’ll cover everything to pick the perfect desktop printer for your needs and budget.

  • This guide covers the most factors for choosing the perfect 3D printer for crafting miniatures and scale models.
  • Key points will include print resolution, build plate size, print speed, reliability, and additional features.
  • Print resolution, measured in microns, determines the level of detail captured; aim for 25-35 microns for decent quality, and 15-22 microns for museum-grade results.
  • Build plate size dictates the number of miniatures printed simultaneously and the maximum print size for large objects.
  • Faster print speeds, indicated by shorter layer exposure times, allow for quicker production of multiple miniatures.
  • Printer reliability is needed for consistent results, otherwise you will end up paying for a new printer. Look for sturdy construction, well-engineered components, and strong community support on forums and discords.
  • Additional features like air filters, wash and cure stations, and Wi-Fi connectivity can enhance the printing experience but should be only thought about if you’ve been printing for a bit.
  •  The three top brands for miniature 3D printing: Elegoo, Anycubic, and Phrozen, each with their strengths in cost, print quality, and detail(Resolution is key for detail).

Best 3D Printer Brands for Miniatures

While there are dozens of 3D printer companies that exist, 3 dominant consumer brands tend to rise above the rest based on the extensive first-hand testing and reviews.

They perfectly blend reasonable affordability with the print quality you are searching for all the while catering specifically to hobby miniatures and models.

Elegoo Mars 4

Best 3D Printer for Miniatures: Brand Best Overall

Elegoo

Elegoo’s Mars lineup, including the Mars 3 Pro and Mars 4, offers a more affordable entry point into resin 3D printing for miniatures. These printers are claiming that they have the resolutions of 28-35 microns, which is pretty much the sweet spot for minis.

The build plates are modest, somewhat small, at around 5 inches diagonally, allowing 1-2 typical sized miniatures to print at a time.

The Elegoo Saturn series steps up the game with delicious 25 micron resolution on a larger 8 x 5 inch build plate. This expanded size enables printing batches of minis or fairly large scenery pieces with very very beautiful defined features.

The Saturn really hits a sweet spot for most hobbyists and it’s the one that produced the best looking minis.

Overall, Elegoo printers are reliable workhorse machines that are very popular with Warhammer Fans. They deliver on surprising print quality for the reasonable prices.

The community provides strong support as well and are always happy to answer questions from people just getting into printing. Elegoo also seems to have an expanding ecosystem of value-adding accessories like wash and cure stations.

Best 3D Printers for Hobbyists

Best 3D Printer for Miniatures: Brand Best Quality

Anycubic

Anycubic’s printers offer great print resolution, build volumes, and features compared to Elegoo models. The key differences come down to specific specs and design differences between the different printers from each brand.

Anycubic Photon printers like the Mono 4K and Mono X 6K match up against the Elegoo Mars and Saturn lines. The resolutions and build areas are similar on paper and the prices seem to follow quite closely.

Many users report Anycubic printers are a good value purchase, but occasional quality control issues seem more noticeable compared to Elegoo. Still, they remain a fantastic option for mini printing.

Just be patient and calm when inspecting the printer and testing when you first receive it.

Best 3D Printers for Hobbyists

Best 3D Printer for Miniatures: Brand Best Price

Phrozen

Phrozen takes the much more premium route by pushing resolutions down to 22 microns or lower for ultra detailed miniature printing, although on smaller build plates that are more suited to just printing only one object at a time.

The very popular Sonic Mini 4K and 8K printers sit at the more compacted end targeting more definition on a single mini than creating many miniatures at great print speeds.

Stepping up to the Sonic Mighty 4K and 8K expands your choices to print batches of minis or some good looking scenery like rocks or metal scraps while maintaining that amazing detail you paid for!

Phrozen also produces more mega-sized industrial printers exceeding 12 inches on a side for giant prints(Think Titans!) Expect excellent but more expensive printers with a focus on print quality above all else.

Phrozen provides some of the best definition if you have the budget, so if you are looking to spend big, Phrozen would be your choice.

Other Brands

Certainly other printer brands exist like Creality, Flashforge, QIDI Technology, Peopoly, and more.

However, based on our hands-on testing and reviews, these alternatives don’t really match up to the top three brands for affordable high-detail printers ideal for hobby miniatures.

Despite what google search results might tell you when searching.

The big three simply dominate the consumer market for the more detailed yet obtainable prints catering to tabletop gamers looking for the price/quality/reliability levels.

We recommend sticking with Elegoo, Anycubic, or Phrozen to get that perfect fit of resolution, reliability, community, and value.

Let me know if you need any other specifics on these top miniature printer brands!

Best 3D Printers for Hobbyists

Best 3D Printer for Miniatures: Entry-Level

Elegoo Mars 4

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Right off the bat, the Mars 4 stands out for actively managing to integrate advanced Digital Light Processing technology into the printer instead of the typical LCD screens found in devices like Elegoo’s own Mars 3.

This pretty much translates to much more light evenness for better print accuracy, less light scattering, and a, quite impressive, long lifespan of 20,000 hours for the built in projector.

The sturdy build also plays a role with features like a slightly thickened Z-axis rail and tempered glass resin tank.

In use, We found that the sharp 2560 x 1440 resolution gave us some quite remarkable detail down to 80 microns, very impressive. Printing miniatures or terrain, patterns were printed very cleanly without any noticeable layer lines or defects.

The sizeable 5.2 inch build area provides plenty of space for some batch production as well, overall a nice plate for 1-2 Miniature builds.

There are many reasons why this is the best 3d printer for miniatures, Print speeds also impressed at upwards of 70mm/hour once dialed in.

Supports are auto-generated but may need some more work with the major overhang areas. N

ew slicing software lets you tailor settings specifically for the Mars 4’s very own projection system while retaining compatibility with third party options too.

Annoyingly, the rear USB port makes file transfers awkward – an extension cable helps enormously. Also plan ahead with resin purchasing since the Mars guzzles material surprisingly fast!

Read our full review here: Elegoo Mars 4 Review for Miniatures

Best 3D Printers for Hobbyists

Best 3D Printer for Miniatures: Mid-range

Anycubic Photon Mono X 6Ks

Hungry for crisper details and more build real estate? The Mono X 6Ks represents an ideal mid-range milestone printer once committed to the hobby.

The 28 micron resolution felt palpably sharper coming from entry-level machines – those delicate features like faces and fingers popped so much crisper with the boosted 2K definition.

And showing off models was a treat on the expansive 7.6 x 4.3″ build plate revealing the Mono X 6K’s prodigious production potential.

With the Mono X 6K, I could create whole squads of troops in one go, no longer forced to suffer through painting lone soldier after lone soldier. And the giant build plate enabled larger multi-part models.

While speed and noise were average, smart touches like the carbon filter and resin vat sensors made printing an ease – no more guessing and second-guessing settings like a novice!

As your skills grow, the Mono X 6K represents an ideal midpoint printer for serious hobbyists producing armies of breathtaking minis. It just feels satisfyingly capable.

Read our full review here: Anycubic Photon Mono X 6Ks Review

 

Best 3D Printer for Miniatures: Ultra Detail

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k

Best 3D Printer for Miniatures: Ultra Detail

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8K

For obsessive types yearning to recreate even the tiniest details in stunning clarity, Phrozen’s Sonic Mini 8K tantalizes with its almost eerie 22 micron resolution practically eliminating visible layer lines even under magnification.

The insanely sharp definition reveals intricacies otherwise muted on less hyper-precise printers. You can lose yourself for hours studying the depth of quality through a macro lens.

Of course, such staggering resolution demands pristinely tuned resin exposure and parameters – this printer proves quite punishing of any sloppiness.

When calibrated perfectly, it will make you a detail believer.

The tradeoff for utmost quality comes in the decidedly mini build plate. But for spotlighting solo showpiece minis, dioramas, and busts that deserve such definition, the Mini 8K can’t be beat for sheer fidelity.

Just prepare your workflow – the bottleneck shifts from printing speed to your painting patience needed to do justice to these models bursting with honed nuance.

But for perfection seekers, this printer’s capabilities prove mesmerizing.

Read our full review: Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review for Miniatures

Best 3D Printer for Miniatures: Recommendations

While the printers above earn my highest overall recommendations balancing capabilities against pricing, other great options exist accommodating specific niche needs or budgets:

  • Elegoo Saturn S – Massive 8 x 5 x 8 inch build capacity for gigantic prints
  • Phrozen Mighty 8K – Potent combo of elite fidelity plus versatile mid-range utility
  • Anycubic Photon D2 – Innovative precise DLP technology skillfully applied
  • Prusa i3 MK3S+ – Proven filament printing workhorse If optimizing outdoor printing

Elegoo Saturn 3

 

Overall Best 3D Printer for Miniatures:

Elegoo Saturn

($500 – $700)

The Elegoo Saturn is a powerhouse 3D printer that has taken the miniature printing community by storm. With its impressive 25 micron resolution and generous 8 x 5 inch build plate, the Saturn delivers fantastic detail and quick productivity.

Whether you’re looking to create a massive army of very detailed miniatures or a stunning centerpiece model that commands attention, the Saturn has you covered.

One of the standout features of the Saturn is its ability to produce incredibly crisp and precise details. The 25 micron resolution ensures that even the tiniest elements of your miniatures are captured with ramazing accuracy.

From small facial features to delicate textures and patterns, the Saturn brings your designs to life with absolute beauty.

The Saturn’s popularity within the community is well-deserved. Its robust construction, user-friendly interface, and exceptional print results have earned it a loyal following.

Whether you’re a seasoned miniature painter or just starting your journey into the world of 3D printed miniatures, the Elegoo Saturn is an investment that will undoubtedly elevate your creations to new heights.

Elegoo Saturn

Best Budget 3D Printer for Miniatures

Elegoo Mars 3

($200 – $300)

For those looking to dive into the world of high-quality miniature 3D printing without breaking the bank, the Elegoo Mars 3 is an unbeatable choice.

With a surprising 35 micron part precision, the Mars 3 delivers exceptional detail and accuracy that rivals printers twice its price.

One of the most impressive aspects of the Mars 3 is its ability to produce miniatures with crisp, well-defined features. While some faint layer lines may be visible under close magnification, they are easily addressed with a quick priming process.

Once primed, the models printed on the Mars 3 are nothing short of jaw-dropping, making them perfect for tabletop gaming or display pieces.

In summary, the Elegoo Mars 3 is a game-changer in the world of affordable miniature 3D printing.

Its impressive 35 micron precision, coupled with its budget-friendly price point and strong community support, make it the ultimate gateway printer for anyone looking to create stunning tabletop models without sacrificing quality or breaking the bank.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k

Best 3D Printer for Miniatures: High Resolution Prints

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8K

($500 – $700)

The Mini 8K’s mesmerizing 22 micron resolution and 1150+ PPI captures microscopic nuances yielding an almost eerie level of visual depth when inspecting under macro magnification compared to any consumer printer.

Prepare for endless zoomed inspection losing yourself in discoveries of deeper definition impossible on commercial prints. Alas, suchintensity demands a toylike build height and width catering lone showpieces alone worthy of displaying this pinnacle of visual clarity yet available.

But pure resolution fanatics need apply here only amongst all options for exploring the bleeding edge – no other consumer 3D printer available exceeds this Phrozen’s phenomenally tight resolution spec. Just ensure your workflow and expectations align with both its potential and limitations.

Read our full review here: Phrozen Sonic Mini 8ks Review for Miniatures

Best 3D Printers for Miniatures

Best 3D Printer for Miniatures: Printing Big Miniatures

Elegoo Saturn S

($350 – $400)

When your miniature printing aspirations expand to epic proportions, the Elegoo Saturn S rises to the challenge. This powerhouse printer combines an impressive 28 micron definition with an expansive 8″x5″x8″ build volume, allowing you to bring even the most ambitious projects to life.

Even if you’re creating towering dragons, sweeping scenery, or any other larger-than-life models, the Saturn S provides the space and precision you need.

One of the standout features of the Saturn S is its ability to maintain exceptional detail despite its sizable build volume.

With a resolution of 28 microns, your printed miniatures will showcase crisp lines, intricate textures, and lifelike details that will leave onlookers in awe.

The generous build space opens up a world of possibilities, enabling you to print imposing centerpiece models or sprawling tabletop landscapes without compromising on quality.

Read our full review here: Elegoo Saturn S Review for Miniatures

Best 3D Printers for Miniatures

Best 3D Printer for Miniatures – Overall Top End

Phrozen Sonic Mighty 4K

($500)

For those seeking the pinnacle of miniature printing excellence, the Phrozen Sonic Mighty 4K is a true gem. With its breathtaking 25 micron resolution and a versatile 8″x4.5″ build platform, this printer delivers unparalleled detail and flexibility.

The printer’s heavenly 25 micron resolution ensures that every tiny feature, from delicate facial expressions to intricate armor designs, is captured with stunning accuracy.

The level of detail achievable with the Mighty 4K is simply breathtaking, elevating your miniatures to a level of realism that will leave everyone in awe.

While the Mighty 4K comes with a premium price tag, the investment is well worth it for those demanding the very best in miniature printing.

The phenomenal fidelity and versatile utility of this printer provide a professional-caliber experience that sets it apart from the competition.

Best 3D Printers for Miniatures

Best 3D Printer for Miniatures: Convenience

UniFormation GKTwo

The UniFormation GKTwo is a standout choice for hobbyists who value convenience and ease of use in their miniature printing process.

With its impressive 25-micron resolution, the GKTwo delivers stunningly detailed prints that will elevate your miniatures to new heights.

What sets the GKTwo apart is its array of thoughtful features designed to enhance your printing experience. The heated resin vat ensures consistent performance throughout your printing sessions, minimizing the risk of print failures and ensuring optimal results every time.

The flip-up hood provides easy access to your prints, making it a breeze to remove completed models and prepare for the next print job.

While the GKTwo is priced between $700 and $900, its thoughtful design, reliable performance, and convenient features justify the investment for serious hobbyists.

If you’re looking for a premium, user-friendly 3D printing experience that prioritizes ease of use and consistent results, the UniFormation GKTwo is an excellent choice.

Read our full review here: Uniformation GK TWO 3D Printer for Miniatures

Best 3D Printers for Miniatures

Best 3D Printer for Miniatures: DLP for Precise Prints

Anycubic Photon D2

The Anycubic Photon D2 stands out for its exceptional precision, thanks to its DLP projection technology that eliminates light bleed and delivers incredibly sharp 51-micron resolution prints.

Although the small build plate may limit the size or number of models printed simultaneously, the Photon D2’s unparalleled accuracy makes it an excellent choice for miniature enthusiasts who demand the utmost detail and are willing to invest $500 to $700 in a top-performing printer.

Read our full review here: Anycubic Photon D2 Review for Miniatures

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s address common inquiries about diving into crafting hobby miniatures with 3D printing:

 Is buying a printer worth it just for miniatures?

Absolutely – hobbyists and competitive players agree 3D printing miniatures unlocks game-changing modeling potential for customization and conversion. With calibration expertise, today’s consumer resolutions easily match or exceed injection molding limits. The creative opportunities make investment thoroughly worthwhile.

What types of miniatures can I print?

Tons! From custom RPG heroes to intricate 6-15mm historical soldiers to prototyping your own games, notable options include: d&d miniatures, model displays, tabletop proxies, statuettes, complex dioramas, matching armies, personalized chapters, embellishing existing kits via conversion, and infinite kitbashing fodder.

How tough are 3D printed miniatures?

Printed mini durability depends heavily on the resin. Fragile, detailed resins produce exceptionally crisp but brittle minis liable to snap off thin parts. Tougher resins cure more flexibly durable for play at the cost of softer details. Balance your needs, but well-supported prints in ideal material can match or exceed tradition injection plastic toughness.

How long do miniature 3D prints take?

Print times fluctuate tremendously pending factors like miniature height, chosen layer resolution, resin curing time, and printer illumination power. Expect 1-4 hours for wee minis up to over a day for towering busts/scenery. Bigger build volumes printing concurrently accelerate overall production. Standard layers cure in 2-8 seconds dictated by resin reactivity.

SM3d

Evaluate Print Speed for Faster Results

A 3D printer’s speed – how quickly it can print each layer of resin – greatly changes the entire total production time when making multiple miniatures.

Consumer Printers

  • Expose layers for 4-8 seconds each
  • Lead to very long print times overall
  • Hundreds of layers add up quickly

Professional Printers

  • Use rapid resins to harden ultra thin layers under 2 seconds
  • Produce models at blazing speeds without quality loss
  • Can print armies much faster than consumer-level machines

When researching printers, focus on typical layer exposure times rather than misleading “insane speed” marketing claims in demo videos. This is all normally malarkey and just marketing ploys.

Ideally, look for exposure times under 6 seconds per layer. This specification directly impacts throughput volume and how fast you can print entire squads of miniatures.

Faster print speeds let you churn out squadrons faster compared to the slower devices with extremely long wait times stopping quicker army assembly.

Average consumer printers expose resin layers for 4-8+ seconds each. This continues into over hundreds of slices into multi-hour total print jobs even for the smallest of Guardsmen to the largest of Orks

But the more professional 3D printers tend to bring down exposure to 1-2 seconds using cutting-edge rapid resins without forfeiting(Much) detail integrity – Rapidly increasing your printing times.

Beware misleading hype videos only showing off the very impractical burst speed modes. Instead inspect normal real-world layer exposure times for the uh, more realistic expectations.

Choose the Right Build Plate Size for Faster 3D Printing

When buying a 3D printer, the physical size of its build plate is very important. This largely determines:

  • Number of models you can print at once
  • Maximum print size for large objects
  • Overall production capacity

Standard Plate (5 inches)

  • Fits 1-2 small miniatures
  • Forces slow, tedious one-by-one printing
  • Ideal only for tiny display models

Expanded Plate (7-8 inches)

  • Accommodates 4+ miniatures at the same time
  • Enables super fast batch production
  • Perfect for printing squads rapidly

Extra Large Plate (12+ inches)

  • Exceeds 5 inches of height clearance
  • Allows oversized prints – giant miniatures, sweeping scenery, cosplay armor, titans
  • Essential for large-scale models, if you are wanting a Thunder hawk for example

Think about and consider your normal print jobs. Bigger build volumes speed up production times. Smaller plates conserve resin for single prints.

Think about the tradeoffs between capacity and resin economy before deciding, You don’t want to go broke do you?

The physical areas build plates determine the production limits by calculating the max miniature quantity per print or max scenery piece proportions.

Bigger plates greatly raise efficiency by enabling whole armies printed in batches instead of tiny plates forcing the dull job of one-by-one printing building your forces very slowly.

7-8 inch build volumes comfortably fit printing 4+ minis at the same time in amazing squad blocks. Furthermore, grand plates invite printing giant Titans or other large creatures!

Print Resolution

A printer’s resolution indicates its capability to create the finer details. Resolution is normally measured in microscopic microns describing the effective XY pixel size.

Standard entry-level printers print at 25-35 microns. This creates decent minis, but faint layer lines visible under magnification where flat areas meet can be a problem.

For museum quality miniatures however,  with practically perfect layering, look for advanced printers achieving 15-22 micron ultra-fine resolution. However, beware leaping head first into such areas as a newbie or even a novice – it demands heavily calibrated resin exposure times perfectly matched to the printer.

Without expertise, a 15 micron device can generate inferior results compared to a well-tuned 35 micron printer! It would be better to buy another printer and begin to learn first.

Some key notes on resolution:

  • Lower micron values equal higher resolution and sharper prints.
  • Under 25 microns is best for miniatures, under 15 is elite.
  • Balancing resolution and resin exposure takes experience.
  • Match resolution to your experience level for better prints.

Best 3D Printer for Miniatures: Reliability

Fantastic resolution and good speed don’t matter if a printer proves unstable, requiring endless tweaking and troubleshooting to achieve the occasional slices of successes.

Instead, you need to look out for printers more known for the actual enduring mechanical quality and dependability you are looking for – removing (some) frustrations while avoiding(most) disappointing failed prints.

Well crafted and good metal construction adds physical resistance compared to the plastic machines that are more vulnerable to components wearing, wobbling, and losing the actual precision over time from heat/force/general usage.

Carefully engineered components, auto-calibration, deftly tuned software, and strong customer support also boost reliability through good design that is more towards catering specifically to hobby printing, which is great but there are always sharks trying to sell you that snake oil.

Additionally, think about the massive user communities, like reddit, or other positive applications you can speak to people when you need some assistance(Discord, is a great example).

Don’t underestimate this value for a hobby device. Value wisdom of the crowds. You would not ask a painter how to make a boat!

Added Features

Extra touches that enhance the printing experience but aren’t strictly needed or mandatory:

  • Air filters to reduce fumes
  • Wash and cure stations for easier post-processing
  • Monochrome UV LED arrays for faster curing
  • Wifi and touchscreens for printing remotely(This one is really not needed!)
  • Heated resin vats to optimize material properties

Weigh any of these premium features against print quality basics this article mentioned in the previous sections – don’t overpay just for conveniences, you’ll end up spending more money overall if you go into it with that mindset.

 

Final Thoughts on Choosing the Best 3D Printer for Miniatures

I hope this guide helps you discover the amazing opportunities of 3D printing for hobby miniatures and models! Using the criteria and recommendations above will ensure you get a printer well-suited for crafting stunning tabletop models dripping with details.

Just remember resolution isn’t everything. Give equal weight to real-world reliability, print speeds, build plate sizes, and smart features that improve the experience.

And don’t be afraid to learn and dial things in. The 3D printing journey is a passion of its own. Take it slow, focus on fundamentals, and let your collection of jaw-dropping printed minis grow over time. The results are so worth it.

Happy printing! Let me know if you have any other questions.

 

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