Best 3D Printer for Gaming Miniatures In 2018

How To Choose The Best 3D Printer To Create Your Own Miniatures

Best 3D Printer For Miniatures Comparison Table

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HICTOP Creality CR-10S 3D Printer Filament Monitor Dual Z axis Screw Rods 300x300x400mm
Wanhao WD7V15 Wanhao Duplicator 7 V.1.5
FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro, Metal Frame Structure, Acrylic Covers, Optimized Build Platform, Dual Extruder W/2 Spools, Works with ABS and PLA
Sindoh 3DWOX DP200 3D Printer
Verdict
Perfect for large models like terrain and props Small minis will lack the finest details.
Best if you want the finest tiny details
Great if you want to use ABS or need dual extruders
Good all round if you want an easy plug and play printer
Image
HICTOP Creality CR-10S 3D Printer Filament Monitor Dual Z axis Screw Rods 300x300x400mm
Verdict
Perfect for large models like terrain and props Small minis will lack the finest details.
Buy on Amazon
Buy on eBay
Image
Wanhao WD7V15 Wanhao Duplicator 7 V.1.5
Verdict
Best if you want the finest tiny details
Buy on Amazon
Buy on eBay
Image
FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro, Metal Frame Structure, Acrylic Covers, Optimized Build Platform, Dual Extruder W/2 Spools, Works with ABS and PLA
Verdict
Great if you want to use ABS or need dual extruders
Buy on Amazon
Buy on eBay
Image
Sindoh 3DWOX DP200 3D Printer
Verdict
Good all round if you want an easy plug and play printer
Buy on Amazon
Buy on eBay

Price excl. shipping / Last update on 2018-09-24 at 23:05 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Best 3D Printer For Small (28mm) Minis With Fine Facial Details – Wanhao Duplicator 7 (V1.5)

Wanhao WD7V15 Wanhao Duplicator 7 V.1.5
2 Reviews

Price excl. shipping / Last update on 2018-09-24 at 20:05 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

If you want to achieve perfect quality, super high-resolution 28mm (~1:58 scale) miniatures with lots of facial details then you will need to enter the exciting world of resin 3D printing.

As opposed to the more common filament 3D printers that melt a solid plastic filament, liquid resin printers start off with a liquid material and solidify it using either lasers or LED lights.

The Wanhao Duplicator 7 is a DLP 3D Printer. This stands for Digital Light Processing. It works by using a screen to project an image of UV light across an entire layer at once. This cures the resin wherever it hits it. The platform then lifts to repeat the process for the next layer, and so on.

This DLP technology allows you to print highly detailed models with layer resolution as small as 35 microns! (0.035mm / 0.00138″.) This means you can replicate the tiniest facial details on minis as small as 28mm or even smaller. You can even match the detail of GW or Corvus Belli.

The Duplicator 7 is now on version 1.4 which incorporates a long list of design and manufacturing improvements since the first version was released. This includes uprated power supply, uprated cooling fans, improved reflector surface finish, improved build plate precision, and more. The Duplicator has come a long way in these four versions and is now at a level where users find ownership to be a positive experience.

So what can you expect from the Wanhao Duplicator 7?

  • Layer thickness as low as 35 microns (0.035mm)
  • At the highest resolutions (35 microns) the print speed is comparable to FFF/filament printing (approx 2cm/0.75″ build height per hour)
  • At lower resolutions (200 microns) print time is significantly quicker than FFF/filament printing (approx 5cm/2″ per hour)
  • You get a far superior part finish with very little sanding or smoothing required.

I won’t go into detail here, but there are also other resins available that allow you to do exciting things like creating molds for investment casting, this opens up a whole other avenue of metal casting to you which could be perfect for casting metallic minis or jewelry making.

You should make no mistake, 3D printing with resin is not easy and the Duplicator 7 will throw some problems your way. You will suffer problems and not every print will be successful. However, the reward for persevering is great, and you will find being able to print at this level of detail to be immensely satisfying once you do get the hang of it.

Here are some of the downsides to SLA printing:

Resin printing is more costly than filament. The resin does age with use and will need replacing. As a rough guide, you could expect that from 1 tank of resin costing around $100 you’ll get somewhere between 100 and 200 miniatures depending on size, so each mini will cost you between 50c to $1.

You need to take good care of the resin. When adding resin to the tank, you have to wait for any bubbles to dissipate before starting the build. After the build has finished, you have to ‘rake’ through the resin tank to make sure no bits of cured resin are floating around that could get in the way of your next build.

When a build is finished, you have to wear latex gloves to remove your part and wash it in Isopropyl Alcohol to remove uncured resin.

In short, you need to be a careful and methodical person to use an SLA printer. If you’re messy and likely to be spilling resin and not taking care to clean up you probably won’t be able to achieve successful prints.

Thankfully there is an ever growing community of Duplicator 7 owners who are more than willing to offer the help they can. Lots has been learnt from this printer since it was first released so you can easily avoid most of the common pitfalls.

If you want top quality miniatures that feature the minutest detail, then the Wanhao Duplicator 7 is the best choice.

Best 3D Printer For Minis Larger Than 28mm With Fine Facial Detail – Ultimaker 2+

Ultimaker 2+ 3D Printer
10 Reviews

Price excl. shipping / Last update on 2018-09-24 at 20:45 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Ultimaker 2+ is hard to beat in terms of quality. The build plate has a Z positional precision of 5 microns. While the Extruder position is accurate to within 12.5 microns on the XY plane.

Such high accuracy can only be met because of Ultimaker’s use of high-quality materials and components in the manufacture of the Ultimaker 2+.

This makes the UM2+ one of the best 3D Printers for printing the high levels of detail needed to print miniatures.

Of course, all this quality has to come at a price, other than financially, and that cost is the time it takes to print. Thankfully, there are some quality settings in the included Cura software that allow you to dial down the quality in return for a faster print speed. In fact, the standard setting gives you a significant speed increase with little compromise in quality.

The Ultimaker 2+ also comes complete with the Olsson Block Kit which allows you to change your nozzle size quickly and easily. It comes with four nozzle options from 0.25 to0.8mm, which give you a good range of quality vs. speed choices.

If you’re interested in trying other filament types, then the Ultimaker 2+ couldn’t be a better choice. It can easily handle standard materials like PLA and ABS. But it is equally capable of printing with more exotic filaments such as blended wood and metal, Nylon, and Ultimaker’s CPE (copolyester) which has similar properties to ABS without the smelly and toxic fumes.

The build volume is a generous 8.5″ x 8.5″ x 7.9″. As with the other 3D printers in this list, if you need to print something larger than the build volume you can simply split the model into several parts and bond them together with a suitable glue afterward.

If you want the most detail you can get on your miniatures or if you’re planning on printing small-scale minis, then the Ultimaker 2+ should be at the top of your shopping list.

Not only will it print your minis in exquisite detail, but it will also do so reliably and repeatedly without you needing to get under the hood to diagnose problems. Leaving you time to do what’s important and get on with printing your army!

Check out my full review of the Ultimaker 2+ here.

Best 3D Printer For Minis With Medium Detail – Sindoh DP200 3DWOX

Sindoh 3DWOX DP200 3D Printer
137 Reviews

Price excl. shipping / Last update on 2018-09-24 at 23:19 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Sindoh DP200 3DWOX is probably my favorite recommendation for anyone looking for a high-quality 3D printer that’s going to work out of the box and do so repeatedly for years.

For 3D printing miniatures, it’s a good choice; the build quality is as good as you will ever get on an FFF printer.

The surprising thing about the DP200 is it rarely features on best of lists, and yet the user reviews are always unanimous in their praise, a sentiment that I wholeheartedly echo from my own experiences.

Both software and hardware of the DP200 are perfect for beginners and anyone who doesn’t like the hassle. There are so many features to like about this 3D printer:

  • Aluminium Teflon coated build bed.
  • 50 micron (0.05mm) resolution.
  • HEPA filter and enclosed build chamber which is perfect for printing with ABS filament.
  • Assisted bed leveling.
  • Hassle free filament cartridge system.

If you have any worries about whether you’re buying a good printer or not the DP200 is a perfect choice. It just works, straight out the box, and can always be relied on.

Here’s the one negative of the DP200 – it only uses a proprietary filament. That means you can’t use any other than Sindoh branded filament cartridges and they are more expensive than the average price of a non-branded filament.

On some other models of 3D printer (such as the XYZ da Vinci Jr), I’ve criticized proprietary filament, and I’m not saying I’m a fan of it, I’m just willing to forgive the DP200 because it is so good in every other respect. And you do at least gain the convenience of the hassle-free cartridge filament system. Whereas on other printers there is no benefit to the consumer in being forced to buy branded filament.

Best 3D Printer For Terrain, Props, and Minis without Fine Detail  – FlashForge Creator Pro

FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro, Metal Frame Structure, Acrylic Covers, Optimized Build Platform, Dual Extruder W/2 Spools, Works with ABS and PLA
858 Reviews

Price excl. shipping / Last update on 2018-09-24 at 20:54 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Creator Pro will happily and reliably print minis as small as 28mm but it won’t be able to replicate the finest details, particularly facial details like eyes will have to be painted in after printing.

The FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro is essentially a clone of the very popular Makerbot Replica. However, it has the huge benefit of having all the user enhancements that were commonly done to the Makerbot machine already included as standard.

Enhancements like metal support arms for the build plate. These provide much better thermal stability and prevent the build plate from moving during a build. Plastic coated adjusters make leveling the build plate very easy.

You also have a CPU with the power necessary to install Sailfish firmware; this is a great enhancement that will give you a superior auto leveling ability, more precise heater control and higher print quality due to the prioritized timing of CPU operations.

All of these small features add up to make the Creator Pro a highly accurate and reliable 3D printer that is perfect for building larger figurines.

The chassis is fully enclosed therefore printing reliably with ABS filament is not a problem. So you can take advantage of the superior finish and strength ABS can offer.

The Creator Pro is also a dual extruder printer, meaning you can print using two different types or colors of filament at the same time. Other than for aesthetics the biggest advantage of this is you can use a soluble build support in one of the extruders. This allows you to design highly complex miniatures with additional supports that can be dissolved away once the build is complete. This means the supports won’t spoil the surface of your mini as you don’t need to manually cut them away.

Finally, because the Creator Pro is based on the successful Makerbot Replica, there are a wealth of tips and info available online to help you get the most out of the printer.

Check out my full review of the Creator Pro here.

Best Budget 3D Printer For Large Terrain, Props, and Minis Without Fine Detail – Hictop CR-10S

HICTOP Creality CR-10S 3D Printer Filament Monitor Dual Z axis Screw Rods 300x300x400mm
79 Reviews

Price excl. shipping / Last update on 2018-09-24 at 23:05 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Hictop CR-10S is one of the best budget 3D printers available. It’s based on the proven Prusa i3 design. Unlike many of the other i3 clones this Hictop uses quality components for the power supply, motherboard, and motion systems. The frame is fully metallic construction and has a sturdy design.

Because of its large build volume and good accuracy out of the box, it’s a great choice for printing terrain and other larger objects. It can also print minis as small as 28mm with a good amount of detail, but you won’t be able to replicate fine facial details like eyes, instead, you can paint these details in afterward.

Although it looks like a kit printer, you only have a fairly minimal amount of assembly to carry out when it arrives. Basically bolting the two main frames together with four bolts and connecting up the wires. I total it shouldn’t take you longer than one or maybe two hours tops before you can start your first print.

The important thing to note about the CR-10S is that ‘S’ at the end of the name. This upgraded model has two z-axis lead screws and stepper motors.

This dual axis system improves the accuracy of the vertical movement of the extruder, giving you more accurate and consistent printing. This makes it well-suited to printing detailed miniatures where you are more likely to notice small imperfections.

The upgraded ‘S’ model also has a filament detection sensor that stops the printer and warns you if it’s about to run out of filament. This protects your prints from being spoiled if you run out of filament during a print. It’s pretty useful when you’re printing large models and can’t keep a constant eye on progress.

You can reliably print in both PLA and ABS, so if you’re looking for a super smooth finish on your minis you can use ABS and vapor treatment.

The CR-10 family of 3D printers are very well regarded and have a large enthusiastic following. If you should run into any problems you will certainly not have any trouble finding help online.

The CR-10S is also almost infinitely upgradable, you can improve the usability almost instantly by printing yourself a new set of bed level adjusters. And there are plenty of other tweaks available, from a new extruder fan duct that you can print yourself to fully automated bed leveling.

In summary, the Hictop CR-10S is a fantastic 3D printer for the money. Right out of the box it prints reliably and accurately enough for you to create an army of miniatures and acres of terrain.

A Hobby In Itself

3D printing your own gaming miniatures is a trend that already has a small army of dedicated followers. And thanks to the price of 3D printers continuing to drop it’s set to grow massively in popularity.

Using 3D printers to create your own minis can really take your mini painting, design and game creation to a whole new level.

Not only have 3D printers continued to drop in price, they’ve also dramatically increased in reliability, quality, and ease of use. There are now many different models available that can reliably print the level of detail you need to create your own miniatures at home.

Designing and building your miniatures not only gives you the freedom to print whatever figures you like it also allows you to create your own completely original figures or even your own entire game!

If designing from scratch seems like too much of a challenge there are thousands of readily downloadable models available on repositories such as Thingiverse that you can simply download and print or modify to your own liking and then print.

Here are some incredible examples of what’s possible with the 3D printers recommended in this article. These models are available to download for free by the highly skilled Dutchmogul at pinshape.com:

Dutchmogul-Magic-Crystal-28mm-Scale-Miniature-Bases
Magic Crystal 28mm miniature base | Credit: Thingiverse user – dutchmogul

Can I really 3D print minis on a home 3D Printer?

Yes! But you need to have realistic expectations. If you can afford an SLA printer like the Wanhao Duplicator 7 then you can easily achieve the same levels of detail as manufactured miniatures but it will take some practice to get the best results.

If however, you have a smaller budget and want to print your minis on an FFF/FDM 3D printer (these printers use a spool of filament) printer then the super-fine details of small (28mm) minis are not as easy to achieve, but you can still get some great results.

You will need to refine your models and printing processes to get the most detail you can, and then add what’s missing with paints and manual sculpting.

As you’ll see below, you can get fantastic results with a little effort, just don’t buy an FDM 3D printer thinking you will have instant perfectly formed 28mm figurines!

FDM printers are also perfect for printing terrain, landscapes, and scenery. Anything that has details larger than 0.1mm will look perfect printed on most well setup 3D printers.

What Specs To Look For

If you want to achieve the same level of detail you can see on these excellent minis, then there’s some important criteria you should look out for when choosing a 3D printer.

The most important specification you should look for is how much detail it will replicate. This is determined by the following factors:

Nozzle Diameter

This is the size of the hole that the heated plastic is extruded through to create your model. The most common size is 0.4mm, and you should ideally avoid any nozzle size above this. Many 3D printers allow you to swap your nozzle for a smaller size like 0.2mm. This slows down the printing but produces finer details.

XY Precision

This is the precision of the printer head movements in the X and Y directions, i.e. every direction except up and down. This is determined by the quality of the bearings, belts, motors and how rigid the frame of the printer is. You should look for a 3D printer that is all metal construction.

Layer Thickness

This is the height of each individual layer of heated plastic that is laid down to create your model. The lower the thickness, the more detail will be seen, but the build will be slower. To achieve the accuracy needed for printing miniatures I would only recommend printers with a layer thickness of 100 microns (0.1mm) or less.

Material Type

In FFF printers this will mostly be ABS, PLA+, or PLA. To get the highest quality surface finish you will want to carry out some post-processing once the part is built.

With ABS plastic this is a little easier as it can be sanded and vapor bathed in Acetone to give a super smooth finish.

If you use PLA+ then its extra toughness allows you to remove support material easier without damaging the mini itself.

What Do You Want To Print?

Terrain, landscapes, details bigger than 0.1mm – This is the easy option! There are lots of FFF 3D printers that can achieve this. The CR-10 family are a perfect fit for this type of printing as they can replicate details of 0.1 and up perfectly and have build volumes from 200mm x 300mm and up so you can print large bits of terrain easily and cheaply.

Miniature figurines 54mm and up – A good quality and well setup FFF 3D printer can print objects like this perfectly well. You will need to do some post-processing of your prints to make them look their best. And you will need to add some of the finer details on by hand, either by paint or sculpting. You could also invest in an SLA printer for these types of minis, but you should be aware that larger objects will use a lot of expensive resin.

Small detailed figurines 28mm to 54mm – This is the hardest type of mini to 3D print. An SLA printer will print these easily with great details, but you should realize that it will take some patience and practice to get the best out of an SLA printer. The best quality FFF printers will do a great job at replicating these fine details too, they just come at a price and will still have some print lines that you will need to manually remove to make your minis look their best.

I would always recommend that where possible, you make the quality of print your priority over build size as it’s always possible to split up larger models into small parts and then simply bond them together once built. It’s actually quite a fun challenge working out the best way to split up your miniature and orient the parts in the build to get the best possible finished part.

If you want some tips on how to 3D print miniatures then check out my guide here.

In Summary

I hope this article has helped you make a decision. From D&D through LOTR to Warmachine & Hordes, 3D printing and gaming miniatures are a perfect combo. Any of the 3D printers on this page will give you a successful start in a very rewarding hobby.

If you’re still not sure which 3D Printer is best for you to print miniatures, and you have the budget, then I would recommend the Ultimaker 2+. It’s a real workhorse of a 3D Printer that won’t let you down in terms of reliability or quality. Its ability to print successfully in so many material types means you’re unlikely to find it limiting your creativity.

If you’re on a really tight budget then you should seriously consider the Hictop CR-10S. It’s a very capable printer, it won’t replicate the finest details on small minis but you’ll be pleased with just how much it can achieve.

If you know you don’t mind putting some effort and hours into achieving the finest detailed minis then you have no better option than the Wanhao Duplicator 7.

Happy 3D Printing!

-Dylan Miller

Image
HICTOP Creality CR-10S 3D Printer Filament Monitor Dual Z axis Screw Rods 300x300x400mm
Wanhao WD7V15 Wanhao Duplicator 7 V.1.5
FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro, Metal Frame Structure, Acrylic Covers, Optimized Build Platform, Dual Extruder W/2 Spools, Works with ABS and PLA
Sindoh 3DWOX DP200 3D Printer
Verdict
Perfect for large models like terrain and props Small minis will lack the finest details.
Best if you want the finest tiny details
Great if you want to use ABS or need dual extruders
Good all round if you want an easy plug and play printer
Image
HICTOP Creality CR-10S 3D Printer Filament Monitor Dual Z axis Screw Rods 300x300x400mm
Verdict
Perfect for large models like terrain and props Small minis will lack the finest details.
Buy on Amazon
Buy on eBay
Image
Wanhao WD7V15 Wanhao Duplicator 7 V.1.5
Verdict
Best if you want the finest tiny details
Buy on Amazon
Buy on eBay
Image
FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro, Metal Frame Structure, Acrylic Covers, Optimized Build Platform, Dual Extruder W/2 Spools, Works with ABS and PLA
Verdict
Great if you want to use ABS or need dual extruders
Buy on Amazon
Buy on eBay
Image
Sindoh 3DWOX DP200 3D Printer
Verdict
Good all round if you want an easy plug and play printer
Buy on Amazon
Buy on eBay

Price excl. shipping / Last update on 2018-09-24 at 23:05 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

8 Comments

  1. Portal December 25, 2017
  2. Metryx January 4, 2018
    • Dylan Miller January 10, 2018
  3. Chip April 4, 2018
    • Dylan Miller April 4, 2018
  4. William August 5, 2018
    • Dylan Miller August 6, 2018
  5. Troy September 13, 2018
    • Dylan Miller September 20, 2018

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