Now that 3D printers are becoming easier for people to access, hobbyist printers and cosplayers are now able to create otherworldly costumes from fictional characters to a more authentic degree.
If you’re one such cosplayer who wants to get the best results, you’re better off putting down the needle and thread and printing the outfits you need. Also, if you have plans of taking printing orders from cosplayers, then you’ll want the best piece of kit for the job.
That’s where we come in, we’ve scanned through the market options for 3D printers and picked six of our favorites that we think will work best for printing out armors from movies and videogames.
All of them have their pros and cons mapped out, for the less technologically inclined, as well as a buyers’ guide that hammers out definitions and the rationale we used when rating these products.
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If there’s a con coming up and you need your outfit ready soon, you can find our top printer choice right here.
We chose the Dremel Digilab D320 3D Printer, an easy to use printer that delivers detailed results at a reasonable price.
See why we liked it in more detail below:
- The printer comes pre-assembled and ready to use, making it as simple as a 3D printer can possibly be. As a result, it also has an enclosure, meaning that dust and overheating is easy to regulate. This is great for beginners or those with a passing interest in outfit printing design.
- Produces detailed printing results with a 100-micron layer resolution. It’s also easy to control and monitor your project’s progress via the interactive LCD screen built into this model.
- Comes with some great additions such as Dremel’s own 3D slicing software based on the open-source Cura system. Your interests as a consumer are also protected by Dremel’s one-year warranty.
Best 3D Printer for Cosplay - Comparison Table
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Best 3D Printer for Cosplay - Reviews
The top printer we decided on is the Dremel Digilab 3D20 3D Printer, a reliable low-cost 3D printer that combines ease of use and affordability with quality results.
The fact it’s an easy to use printer model means that it’s great for cosplayers who want to get great printed results without knowing too much about the technical sides of 3D printing.
It’s easy to use because it’s pre-assembled and features a fully enclosed design, which also keeps out dust and stabilizes the interior printing temperature.
As for its specs, the build space volume is 230mm by 150mm by 140mm, so is best for building your outfits piece by piece with a satisfying level of detail thanks to the Digilab 3D20’s 100-micron layer resolution.
You’re also able to monitor your build during construction thanks to an interactive LCD screen that also adds to this product’s ease of control.
Dremel have also added full slicer compatibility with the Dremel Digilab 3D Slicer, which is based on the open-source Cura software, a leading name in the 3D printing software industry.
You also get covered by Dremel’s one-year warranty when you buy this product, so you can get recompensed if your order suffers from poor workmanship or other complications.
The downside of this printer being pre-assembled and easy to use is the fact that it’s made for you, meaning the proprietary tech inside can’t be changed or tinkered with.
For example, this printer will only function properly with Dremel’s own PLA filaments, and so is best for hobbyists who aren’t too knowledgeable on printer construction and want an accessible means of printing their cosplay gear.
The second printer we have is the QIDI TECH Intelligent Industrial Grade 3D Printer, a premium, industrial grade option for those who want a high-performing model that they can customize and tinker with.
It has a larger build volume than our first option, and so is a shoo-in if you want to build larger objects or more at once, with a 300 by 250 by 400mm space available for use.
The casing and much of the main printing components aren’t made from flimsy plastic, instead being made of a mix of aviation-grade aluminum and CNC machining aluminum alloys.
This means that the product is durable, so you won’t have to worry too much about small but disruptive component breakages.
It works with a very wide array of filaments, from TPU and ABS to PLA and nylon or carbon fiber. This means you have a high degree of customizability with this machine, so you’ll be able to choose the right filament for the job depending on the cosplay outfits you’re making.
It can achieve such a wide variety of results thanks to the fact it features A and B extruders. This printer also fully supports using the filament spool either on top of the printer itself or inside a side compartment specifically made to house it.
Even the printing plate is removable, so you won’t have to contend with the restrictions of fixed-plate printers.
The product includes the operating software and is capable of WiFi connectivity, the control of this model being managed by a touchscreen LCD panel that features intuitive iconography so that beginners should be able to find their way around.
The included slicing software has been called rudimentary by some, probably because it didn’t meet the higher standards of some printing experts, but at any rate you can upgrade the slicing software of this model with the abundance of free slicing software out there.
Third in our list is the Monoprice Maker Select Plus 3D Printer, an affordable model that has been favorably compared to the reputable Anycubic i3 printer.
It’s an incredibly versatile product, its extruders operating at a wider range of temperatures so that it can print with any filament type, from PLA to wood or metal composites.
It prints with a 100-micron layer resolution and has a build volume of 200 by 200 by 180mm.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Maker Select Plus is its compact, open frame design, minimizing how much space this model takes up.
It’ll fit on most desks along with anything else you’ll want to put on it. Despite that, it still comes with a MicroSD card that has pre-installed models to print on it.
The watchword of this model is compatibility, it being compatible with PC and Mac and able to be used with some of the industry’s leading slicing software, like Cura and Repetier.
The interface seems to have been translated, though this may depend on where you get the product from, and either way it’s still understandable.
At number four we have the Reprap Guru Black DIY Prusa i3 3D Printer Kit, another quality printer in the affordable range that is built using one of the most recognizable 3D printers in the industry.
We’re talking about the Prusa i3, a replicating rapid prototyper model that was the most used 3D printer during the rise of these impressive products. The secret to Prusa’s success is the fact that Prusa Research not only sells their own printing models, but most of their tech is open-source and free to be worked with and built upon by industry collaborators.
That’s where the Reprap Guru version comes in, being the most popular of the third-party printers that use Prusa i3 tech, providing you with one of the industry’s leading printing mechanisms at a reduced price.
It’s your ideal first 3D printer, requiring absolutely no drilling, soldering, or cutting to get it working. Instead, all you’ll need is a screwdriver that can turn Philips head screws.
The 200 by 200-millimeter heated borosilicate glass bed is the warm heart of this printer, being the finest part of this printer model, everything else being relatively boilerplate with this design.
We say warm, but it actually reaches 240 degrees Celsius (464 Fahrenheit), and with the lack of enclosure you should be careful when using it.
The printer also works in both 110V and 220V modes, though it comes with a 110V US cord only, so you’ll need to source your own cord if you want to use it with the higher voltage. When working, it’s recommended to print using PLA or ABS plastic, though it can be used as PVA and wood.
This is all dispensed via one extruder, though the printer is able to be upgraded to a dual-extruder unit for those looking for some more versatility.
The model is so lightweight and compact that they’ve skimped on the native display for this printer, meaning when preparing and using it you’ll have to monitor it from your, well, monitor, at your desktop.
The penultimate product on our list is the ADIMLab Gantry-S 3D Printer, a practical and cost-efficient model that’s great for those that are operating on a tighter budget than most.
It’s a great printer for the range, and even comes partially pre-assembled for an easier, approximately half-hour-long setup. It’s also pretty compact, being space-efficient for those working in tighter working spaces.
It features a 240 by 240mm hot bed that reaches more than 100 degrees Celsius (212 Fahrenheit) and is evenly heated with high adhesion to ensure that your project sticks to it, resulting in a stable and level construction.
It supports a lot of different filaments thanks to its durable metal MK8 extruder which ensures that it won’t break, especially during the high heat environment and its use with multiple filament types.
The assembly of this product requires some DIY on your part but there’s clear instructions on the ADIMLab 3D Printer YouTube channel.
Last but certainly not least is the LulzBot TAZ Pro 3D Printer, a premium, high-end printer that is incredibly accurate, reliable and consistent.
This is the workhorse printer for those who expect to be printing a lot, whether you’re a hobbyist or taking orders.
We say this because the printer not only has a large operating space of 280 by 280 by 250mm but is also capable of printing in great detail thanks to its maximum 500-micron layer resolution.
It also works with a lot of different filaments, about 30 to be exact, many of them high-strength and high-heat that would usually be too abrasive for other machines.
It also has a modular tool head design which allows you to make multi-material upgrades and is generally more flexible than other modules. It also supports vertically actuated E3D hot ends that reach a max temperature of 300 degrees Celsius (572 Fahrenheit).
It’s naturally the most expensive product on this list, and by a wide margin, and only has one extruder to work with, which does its job well but is less than some would expect for the price tag.
Best 3D Printer for Cosplay - Buyers Guide
How to choose the best 3D printer for cosplay printing
As you can imagine, 3D printing is a tech-heavy topic, so there’s no shame in brushing up on your information.
That’s why we’ve written this buyers’ guide, so you can read and learn the specs and properties you should be looking for in your printers, especially those that are best used for making cosplay outfits.
In order to understand what to look out for in your printer, you need to know what you’re expecting out of it.
By this we mean the size of the designs you’ll want to print, the layer resolution, type of filament, ease of use, and other technical additions like LCD touchscreens and other tech compatibilities.
The build volume is the capacity of the platform that you’re printing on, so it dictates the size of your results. Cosplay typically demands larger build volumes since you’re making an article of clothing to wear, though this isn’t a hard requirement if you don’t mind welding several individual pieces together into a greater whole.
Those wanting a simpler construction process will want larger build spaces, but as long as the volume accommodates your planned printing object you should be fine.
Larger volumes just mean less parts, which in turn means less weak points where those parts have been connected to one another.
Unless they’re pretty high-end, and so expensive, then high volume printers can suffer in terms of the details they can offer.
Layer resolution is expressed in microns where 3D printing is concerned, a micron being one millionth of a meter. It’s the Z height of your projects, and the lower the micron count, the higher the resolution you receive.
Machines will run with as low as a 10 micron to 500-micron layer resolution. Somewhat counterintuitively, if you need fine details on smaller projects then you need to get the highest micron count you can possibly get.
This means that you can get quality prints no matter the micron count, and you should go for a printer that’s capable of printing all your desired projects depending on their size.
Type of Filament
It’s rare that you won’t want to use a variety of filaments when using your 3D printer long term. You want your prints to be as durable and realistic, which means using the right filaments capable of working with certain materials, like the metals and wood-grain designs that are common with character outfits.
This means, when shopping for your printer, you should make sure they don’t just support basic materials like PLA and ABS, instead being able to work with more material.
Metallic filaments will also be the best for adding metallic finishes to your project, great for shields and other armor pieces for both sci-fi and fantasy characters.
Ease of Usage
3D printers can be very daunting to use if you’re not a tech-minded person and have little experience with them.
It’s a learning process and buying the printer and the accompanying software is the first step in that process. However, there are things that can be done to make this process easier.
If you’re low on printing experience, you should go for a 3D printer that comes pre-assembled so that you don’t have to deal with the hassle of making it yourself. Pre-assembled models mean you can just attach a filament spool and begin printing.
However, you don’t want to sacrifice too much control over the end product in your quest for simple operation, so make sure you get a model that has the adjustability you want.
By technical features we mean the peripheries or certain aspects of the printer that aren’t essential for its use but make that use easier or add to the use you can get out of your machine.
These are aspects like the print speed, whether the printer features self-levelling print beds, or is operated by an LCD touchscreen. Other compatibilities like hardware OS compatibility or slicing software compatibility (and the inclusion of software or SD cards with your purchase) are also important and should be blatantly expressed on the product listing pages.
Whilst it may be appealing to go straight for the faster print speeds, this also results in lower quality print.
That isn’t to say there aren’t high end print machines out there that can handle both speed and quality, but for most printers you’ll have to weigh up the amount of props you need printed versus the quality you need for those props, and choose accordingly.
Self-levelling is pretty self-explanatory, being when the print beds made automatic adjustments in order to keep your project level so that it doesn’t accidentally print a lopsided product. You should go for it whenever it’s present in a printing machine.
Most printers have some sort of provision for this, otherwise you need to keep your eyes on the project, which becomes tedious fast.