Whether you want to create more miniatures for tabletop gaming or to simply paint, or just for fun, a good 3D printer can do that for you.
You will need a good quality printer that offers the best possible precision and provides the best possible results.
We’ve looked at many of the 3D printers that are out on the market at the moment, and we’d like to show you our Top 5 picks.
Reviews on these 5 printers are coming up shortly, and after that, we have a buying guide for you, accompanied by an FAQ section where we answer your most frequently asked questions.
In a hurry?
This is our Winner!
Best 3D Printer For Miniatures - Comparison Table
Buy on Amazon
Best 3D Printer For Miniatures - Reviews
This is a fantastic 3D printer for printing miniatures from Anycubic - it’s the 3D printer that everyone is raving about - not least on the Amazon page. After about 400 customer ratings, the average Amazon customer rating comes in an impressive 4 and a half stars out of 5. That’s a lot of happy customers from Amazon alone.
As we’ve said in our buying guide SLA 3D printers deliver far better accuracy than their FDM counterparts. This is all down to how it works, which is also something we’ve described in the buying guide.
Anycubic was already extremely very good at what they do, but in this newer model, they’ve surpassed themselves, upgrading the former model in several different ways.
They’ve included a dual Z-axis rail to make the bed very stable and ensures that the bed does not shift in the middle of printing, for that all-important precision for when it comes to the finer details in your miniatures.
The resolution and accuracy is also greatly improved by the upgraded UV lighting, to give a level of precision that outrivals all other SLA printers in this price range.
There’s also a sanded aluminum platform that really enhances adhesion and makes it more stable when printing.
It has a good build volume, measuring 115 x 65 x 165 mm, which is more than enough for your standard 25mm and 28mm miniatures, and you could print some large showstoppers besides.
It can print offline, so you won’t need a constant internet connection to print. And it prints quietly.
It has other great features too - a touch screen panel and a double air filtration system which reduces the odor emitted during the printing process.
It comes almost entirely preassembled, so it’s super easy to setup. And it comes as an entire kit, giving you everything you need to get started straight away, including the resin (please see the Amazon page for full details).
What’s really handy though is the Photon Owners Group on Facebook. It’s a nice little community, full of people with handy suggestions and advice.
We talk in our buying guide how better quality 3D printers generally come at high-end prices. And this FDM printer from FlashForge is a good example.
But you don’t have to take our word for it - check out the customer feedback on the Amazon page.
First of all, it’s flying off the shelves with well over 1000 customer ratings in total, and secondly, the average customer rating still manages to come in at a very impressive 4 and a half stars out of a possible 5.
It has that all-important accuracy you’re looking for when printing miniatures. It has excellent layer resolution, and the layer thickness meets that 0.1mm minimum we talk about in our buying guide.
The nozzle diameter is 0.4mm which is fine your miniatures, but for even better precision you can replace it with a 0.2mm nozzle.
What we really love about this printer, in addition to its accuracy, is just how many different filaments you can use with it. You don’t have to settle for PLA or even ABS, there’s a whole range of options open to you, including metal-filled filament and wood-filled filament. How great is that for your miniatures!
There’s a dual extruder, not just one. And unlike their cheaper counterparts, this printer is fully enclosed in order to insulate and protect any ABS prints.
It has a really sturdy stable frame, something which can really help with the precision in your final results. And the special plate is really thick and flat and won’t warp during the heating process.
The maximum print dimensions in inches are 8.9x5.8x5.9, which is more than enough for your miniatures.
It’s compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems, and there are 3 software apps you can use with it (see the Amazon page). You can print either from an SD card or via USB cable.
In the box, you get everything you need to assemble it, and you get a 16GB SD card with some software already on, and you get 2 (randomly selected) spools of filament. So you can get printing the same day the box arrives.
You get a full year’s manufacturer warranty and free technical support from FlashForge’s own experts.
Although SLA 3D printers are normally a lot more expensive than their FDM counterparts, this printer from Elelgoo is an absolute steal at just $230.
Our first thought when we first looked at it was that for this price it’s not going to be sufficient quality to get particularly good customer feedback, but we were really surprised.
On the Amazon page, after well over 900 customer ratings, the average customer rating comes in at a rather impressive 4 and a half stars out of a possible 5, with the large majority of customers rating it 5 stars.
As we discuss in our buying guide, SLA printers are primarily used where fine precision is needed, such as for printing detailed miniatures.
With its 40 watt UV lights and 2560x1440 2K HD masking LCD resolution, you get superbly precise and accurate miniatures printed out with all the fine detail you could want.
And if those specs don’t entirely blow your mind - it also sports a layer thickness of a tiny 0.01mm! Phenomenal.
It has maximum print dimensions of 4.53in(L) x 2.56in(W) x 5.9in(H), which although not huge, should be more than sufficient for your miniatures, even some of the slightly larger ones.
It comes with CHITUBOX Slicing Software, which slices 10 times faster than the open-sourced slicing software available. Another advantage of this software is that it allows you to hollow out your model before slicing which can save your resin dramatically during the photocuring process.
It’s easy to assemble and easy to use - a total beginner could handle it.
There’s a 1-year machine warranty available, and the customer service is pretty good too.
This is a great SLA printer from R Qidi Technology - and at a really great price too.
For such an affordable SLA printer, we did wonder if customer feedback would be rather poor, but that’s not the case at all. After close to 100 customer ratings, the average Amazon customer rating comes in at a very nice 4 and a half stars out of a possible 5.
Its top-notch results come from its top-notch build. It has a double z-axis linear rail, and some other features, which make the printer far more stable in the printing process, which in turn leads to more precise results, and finer detail observable in your miniatures. This printer is the most stable one across the manufacturer’s entire range.
Of course, you will want to hear about the specs that relate to its precision. Well check this out - the layer thickness is adjustable to a tiny, tiny 0.01mm. Imagine that!
The maximum printing dimensions are 4.52"(L) X 2.55"(W) X 5.9”(H), which we’d prefer were a little bigger. But that said it will be enough for the large majority of miniatures you might want to print.
We love the slicing software that comes with it, it’s ChiTuBox, which works with both Windows and Mac operating systems.
It has an upgraded air filtration system to help diminish any unnecessary unpleasant smell.
There’s a free one-year warranty included in with the price, and there’s a nice customer service team which will aim to respond to you the same day if possible.
This is a great little 3D printer from Longer. But you don’t have to take our word for it. On the Amazon page, the average customer rating comes in at an impressive 4 and a half stars out of a possible 5.
We have chosen yet another SLA/resin printer for our Top 5 due to the superior fine detail and precision they can offer compared to their FDM counterparts.
And when we discuss this in our buying guide we state that SLA/resin printers tend to be more expensive than FDM ones, this 3D printer is an exception, and is available for under $300.
As you might expect however, to be made available at such an affordable price, the print dimensions aren’t as high as say, our Number 1 pick, the ANYCUBIC Photon S.
That said they are on a par with the remaining 3D printers in our Top 5, and you will easily be able to print many 28mm miniatures, and some larger ones besides, with the maximum dimensions coming to 4.72 x 2.68x 6.69 inches. These are bigger print dimensions than Longer’s previous 3D printers.
What makes it such a good printer for printing miniatures though is that the pixel size can be adjusted to a tiny 47.25μm. And the detail and precision is helped further still by the special slider design which enhances the accuracy and stability of the Z axis.
Printing with a Longer machine is 3 times faster than with other SLA 3D printers, thanks to their self-developed slice software. The matrix UV light also ensures that you get a shorter time of curing.
And to make things even quicker still, their cooling system has been upgraded to really shorten the cooling time. This has the additional advantage of helping increase the lifespan of the printer.
The machine’s really easy to use too, with a user friendly touchscreen, and easy levelling. We also like the real-time printing status preview, for when you’re printing your miniatures to a deadline.
The printer comes with a full year’s warranty, and should you run into any problems with it, you’ve got lifetime technical support.
Best 3D Printer For Miniatures - Buyers Guide
Let’s go through everything you might want to think about before you buy your 3D printer - we’ll try to cover as much as we can for you.
What type of 3D printer is best for printing miniatures
For those who don’t know, there are 2 main types of 3D printers, FDM and SLA, and they work in completely different ways.
FDM printers use an extrusion head through which molten plastic (usually PLA) which is guided to the pre-programmed X, Y, and Z coordinates layer by layer until the print is complete.
SLA printers also referred to as resin printers, work entirely differently. They expose a photosensitive liquid resin to an ultraviolet laser beam, and the resin will gradually harden layer by layer and become solid.
FDA printers are the type most commonly used by hobbyists and those just starting out and are also largely used by those manufacturing prototypes. FDM printers vary considerably in price, and I mean really vary, but on the whole, they can be considerably cheaper than their SLA counterparts.
With the SLA process however you can get incredibly smooth surfaces objects with extreme detail. And while that may immediately make them seem like the better option for printing miniatures, you will have to consider whether you’re prepared to invest in a printer of such a high price.
They also cost more to run too.
Precision and Accuracy of an FDM Printer
As we mentioned in our introduction, the precision, and accuracy of the 3D printer is paramount when being used to print miniatures. With FDM printers there are 3 things that influence its accuracy and precision: XY precision, nozzle diameter, and layer thickness.
With regards to the XY precision, this comes down to the overall build quality of the machine, quality of the parts such as the bearings, belts, and motors, and also how rigid the frame of the printer is, and how effectively it provides a stable platform. This is best achieved by using an all-metal construction.
The nozzle diameter of an FDM printer determines the size of the hole that the heated filament is extruded through to print your miniatures, the smaller this is, the more precision you can apply.
The most common size of the nozzle diameter is 0.4mm, however it is our opinion that this is NOT good enough for printing your miniatures. You will be much better off with a nozzle size of 0.2mm diameter or smaller. This will significantly slow down how long it will take for a miniature to print, but the superior result will be worth it.
Then there’s layer thickness, the height of each individual layer of the printout. The smaller the layer thickness, the more detail can be seen. Again this will entail a compromise with regards to how quickly the model will print, but again the results will be worth it.
To achieve the accuracy needed for printing miniatures we would only recommend printers with a layer thickness of 0.1mm or less.
Precision and Accuracy of an SLA Printer
As with FDM printers, there are factors that affect the accuracy and resolution of your SLA print outs. These include mechanical control, beam diameter and layer thickness.
Mechanical control refers to the precision of the movement of the parts such as the mirrors, the galvanometer, and the build platform. Optimum mechanical control is best achieved by using high-quality components.
Also, the narrower the laser beam the greater detail. Again to get that all-important precision in your model, using a narrower laser beam will make the printout take longer to print, but it will be worth it.
As with FDM printers, the layer thickness is a factor in SLA printing precision. The thinner the layer thickness the better, as thin layers give a higher resolution. Again, we would only recommend using printers with a layer thickness of 0.1mm or less.
Print orientation is also very important for printout accuracy and something that cannot be ignored.
Filaments and Resins
You must bear in mind that the quality of the miniatures can only be as good as the materials it’s made from, whether it’s an FDM filament or an SLA resin. It does not all come down to the printer alone.
Different FDM filaments offer different levels of dimensional accuracy. The precision of a 3D printer filament is measured in millimeters to at least one decimal place, and sometimes to 2 decimal places. The smaller this figure is, the finer the details you can get in your miniatures.
There is considerable variation in the properties of FDM filaments, but from looking through forums on the subject, many people use PLA and ABS filaments for printing their miniatures, although there is a substantial discrepancy and split opinion between some of the different brands.
You should also be made aware that some FDM printers will only print with PLA.
The precision and detail in your finished miniature does not come down to printer specs and materials alone, however.
Not only does the accuracy of a printed miniature depend very heavily on the design, but there are also variations in the cooling and curing processes, that can result in internal stresses which can then in turn lead to warping or shrinkage.
Shrinking and warping are much less severe in SLA printing than in FDM printing, although for print sections that are long and thin, some sagging can occur in SLA printing.
If there’s any product with an incredible variation in cost it’s 3D printers. You can pay into the thousands of dollars for a high-end 3D printer or you can buy a budget 3D printer for under $200.
What we will say is that on the whole, you pay for what you get, and there’s considerable variation in how much better quality a print out you get as the printers creep up in price.
This becomes more evident when you scroll through the 3D printers on the market on sites that show customer feedback and customer ratings.
Frequently Asked Questions
What 3D printer is best for miniatures?
In our view, and in the view of many many other similar websites the best 3D printer for miniatures is hands down our Number 1 pick, the ANYCUBIC Photon S 3D Printer.
The reasons for this are the ones we carefully laid out earlier, but primarily that it’s a top-quality SLA resin printer at a mid-range price.
As we mention in our buying guide, SLA printers tend to give more precision and are best suited for small printouts with precise fine details, such as with miniatures.
Is 3D printing hard to learn?
3D printing in itself is not hard to learn. But to use 3D printing design software takes a really good eye. However, if you are happy to use open source templates and designs for printing your miniatures, then the hardest part is picking which design to print.
You then send your selected design to the printer, and it’s usually just a case of following the on-screen instructions and making any necessary selections using a touch screen panel.
In some cases you may be expected to assemble the printer yourself, however, the majority of the printers in our Top 5 picks arrive at your door already semi-assembled if not fully assembled.
Can you make money from 3D printing?
Commercial 3D printing can be very profitable and generate a lot of income if you go about it the right way.
You can either simply sell items that you print with your printer, or you can list your printer as a commercial service for businesses that have a design in mind but do not have the facilities to print it.
If this is of interest to you, why not check out websites like 3D Hubs, imaterialise, and Shapeways.