3D printing is a booming business and we are seeing many new types of printers, materials, and processes being introduced each year. The 3D printing industry itself is growing rapidly as more people are jumping on board this exciting technology. Although it seems like complicated technology, once you understand the basics you’ll see that 3D printing is a highly automated process and relatively simple to set up. The cost of these 3D printers do vary and there are some entry-level products on the market that allow hobbyists to get involved and experiment. One area in which this technology is now being utilized is in tabletop and RPG games. The miniatures used in these games are small yet highly detailed which is perfect for 3D printing. However, with this extra detail comes a slightly more complicated printing process than normal. You’re going to need a 3D printer that can get this type of detailed printing job done correctly.
These RPG and tabletop games, the most commonly known is Dungeon & Dragons, cover a wide range of character design and props. Most 3D printers are capable of creating the larger sized houses, castles, and terrain but when it comes to the 28mm miniatures then it requires a different type of printer. You’re going to need something that does your miniature designs justice!
Read on and we’ll walk you through our 3D printer reviews and pick out the best 3d printer for printing miniatures. We’ve also got a handy “3D Printers For Miniatures Buying Guide” to help you out. This guide will help to clear up any doubts that you have about any technical terms and it will also give you plenty of recommendations on what to specifically look out for when choosing your next 3D printer. Our reviews will cover two types of printers that give you the best miniature printing process:
- FDM or FFF 3D printers (filament-based)
- SLA 3D printers (resin-based)
We’ll go into these in more detail later on in the guide but for now, let’s take a look at our lineup of reviews for the best 3d printer for miniatures.
Best 3D Printer for Miniatures - Comparison and Review
- Complex and detailed print quality
- Delivered fully assembled
- Simple setup straight from the box
- Easy to use
- Minimal maintenance required
- Touchscreen interface
- Perfect for 28mm miniatures
- Magnetic bed not perfect
- No wireless printing options
If you are looking to print 3D miniatures in stunning detail at an affordable price then look no further than the Anycubic Photon. This resin-based 3D printer gives you the maximum level of resolution (25 microns) compared to any other printer in this article. Technically, this printer is known as an LCD SLA 3D printer that uses a UV LED light source, but we all lovingly know it as the Photon. It prints your designs from “top to bottom” which is, in fact, the opposite way from the standard “bottom to top” style of FDM 3D printers. The miniatures that are printed from the Photon are known to be very detailed and smooth, which is perfect for priming and painting your RPG and tabletop designs.
The Photon comes pre-assembled and so it’s easy to get this printer up and running straight out of the box. The frame is well-built and it sits nice and solid on flat working spaces. It comes with a modern touchscreen interface which displays printing previews and the status of each model during the printing process. The bed leveling procedure is easy to configure and the Photon is shipped directly with a user-friendly slicer which is an added bonus for beginners. The Photon is our Top pick because it can easily handle the complex and detailed designs that 28mm miniatures demand. It’s very affordable and although it doesn’t offer much versatility in terms of printing volume, it handles the small 3D prints very well, and with that in mind, we firmly believe that the Anycubic Photon is the best 3d printer for d&d miniatures.
- Affordable and easy to assemble
- Compact design with high-quality prints
- Impressive print volume
- Highly upgradeable
- Plenty of online support
- Tight filament path for improved flexibility
- Print bed leveling is a little tricky to get used to
- Magnetic bed not to everyone’s liking
- No wireless printing options
The Ender 3 Pro came into the 3D printing world with high expectations. Since its release, it has proved to be the best 3d printer for miniatures in terms of value for money. We recommend this printer to beginners because it is such an affordable option that gives you excellent printing quality. The “Pro” is a little misleading and we feel that it only serves as a marketing ploy. This printer is not in the same league as some of the models that professional 3D printers use but that’s not why we are here. We want affordable printers for home use and what the Ender 3 Pro does offer is an affordable option for keen hobbyists who are looking for a certain level of quality. The end results from the Ender 3 Pro will put some other higher priced printers to shame.
So what makes the Ender 3 Pro such a perfect option for beginners? There are many reasons and to start us off is the price. For around $250 you get a handful of features that are lacking in more expensive models. It comes with a sturdy magnetic bed, a strong filament pathway which makes working with flexible materials a breeze, and you also get a power recovery mode for any unfortunate situations that might occur during the printing process. The Ender 3 Pro does lack the auto leveling bed and we would welcome a metal build plate but we do need to keep in mind the cost of this printer. As good as this printer is, we can’t expect a perfect design with everything included – although it is very close. We think that the Ender 3 Pro is the only option for our Best Value For Money pick. Value for money, great print quality, and user-friendly. It ticks all the boxes for us and we think that you’ll love it!
- Easy to assemble and get started
- Large and friendly online community for support
- Good print quality
- A range of print sizes available
- Sturdy aluminum frame
- Heated print bed
- Struggles with small miniatures out of the box
- Requires modification for true 28mm printing
- Manual bed leveling process
If you’re looking to keep your 3D printer spending to a minimum then you should definitely check out the Monoprice range. Famously known for producing budget options, the Maker Select v2 will give you a taster of the 3D printing world with a lot of quality results for something that is regarded as entry-level. Monoprice also offers the Select Mini v2 and the Mini Delta which are both under $200, but it’s the Maker Select v2 that we’re reviewing that offers the most value to those printing miniatures. The filament-based printer comes with an aluminum open-frame design that gives you a strong base to print from. The base itself comes with a heated print bed and the controller box comes as a separate component with USB and SD card connectivity.
The Maker Select v2 comes pretty much ready to go, all you need to do is assemble the frame and you’re ready to print. The standard setup and settings will be more suited to medium and large-sized designs. However, a couple of simple upgrades and this printer will be ready for your 28mm miniatures in no time at all. The MOFSET mod kit is the one major upgrade you’ll need, it’s also good to know that the Monoprice online community are a friendly bunch who will help you along the way! The Maker Select v2 comes with 3D model samples and a free filament which lets you get started straight away, so no waiting around for extra materials or components to arrive. The quality is not going to be perfect but for a budget printer, it sure does perform well. If you make the necessary upgrades then you should get some success with your 28mm miniatures but don’t expect too much detail and quality from this printer, after all, it is entry level! The Maker Select v2 is our Budget pick because it’s perfect for those who want to dip their toes in the 3D printing world, it gives you good results without having to put a big dent in your bank account.
- Heated platform with enclosed metal frame
- Dual extruder setup
- Good print quality
- Guide rods and illuminated printing area
- Large community and support
- Third-party filaments can be used
- User guide could be more useful
- Adjustments and upgrades are required
- Manual bed leveling process
The FlashForge Creator Pro is the most unique 3D printer in our reviews and some see it as the best 3d printer for 28mm miniatures. It features a dual extruder setup which gives you new and exciting ways to print. The main advantage of this setup is that you can print in two colors simultaneously without having to pause and change materials. The FlashForge opens up new avenues in 3D printing design but what else does it offer? The whole construction has been built to last with its metal frame and durable components. The guiding rods give you high-end precision for those extra fine details in your miniatures and the aluminum platform will withstand any knocks and bumps. The FlashForge can be bought for around $600 but the spec could command a much higher price tag which shows the true value of this printer.
The FlashForge is a useful option for those who know what they are doing when it comes to 3D printing. The LCD screen is useful for checking your printing status and it also comes with USB and SD card connections for easy access with computers. The printer is good to go straight from the box but in order to bring out the real potential of the FlashForge you’ll have to tinker around with the settings first. This is where it becomes a little too advanced for beginners and shows itself as an option only really for advanced and experienced users. You don’t want to be spending $600+ on a printer that requires a certain degree of technical knowledge to reach its potential. If you’re willing to get your hands dirty with modifications then the FlashForge will give you a superior 3D printing quality for miniatures in this price range. Once you have it set up for these small 28mm designs then this printer will run with minimal maintenance and surprisingly few errors overall.
- Automatic bed leveling technology
- Integrated LCD controller
- Removable heated magnetic bed
- Filament sensor to reduce printing errors
- Large community for designs
- More expensive than recommended options
- No enclosure
- Filament sensor has issues with translucent materials
The Original Prusa i3 MK3 is one of the most expensive 3D printers in our list but we had to give it a mention due to its feature-heavy spec. For just under $800 you can get the easy-to-assemble kit and for around $1000 the pre-assembled kit is also available. It doesn’t matter which kit you opt for, the first thing you notice is that this open-source printer is built for convenience. Standout features include the automatic bed leveling technology, an integrated LCD controller, and a removable heated magnetic bed. The extra sturdy frame adds to the precision of this printer and the filament sensor comes with a “panic” function which is able to quickly determine if the extruder is jammed. This is a really useful feature as some other printers will carry on and ruin a print but the MK3 will pause and safely move the printing head away until the issue has been fixed.
The MK3 is one of the best high-resolution 3D printers for under $1000 on the market at the moment. You’ll find that this printer will give you fast and quality results, especially when you spend time to optimize the settings and find the right nozzles. It will also efficiently deal with larger designs for those of you looking to print more than just 28mm miniatures. These features help to show that the MK3 offers a lot of versatility. It’s useful to compare the other less expensive printers against this spec to see where the real value for money lies. The Original Prusa is a great printer for those who can afford it but it’s not really your go-to option for beginners but nevertheless, it’s an excellent design that offers top quality 3D printing results.
- Extremely detailed print quality
- Sturdy frame and printing platform
- Great price for an SLA printer
- Versatile material system
- USB connectivity
- Large online community
- Resin is an expensive material
- Unreliable customer support
- Small build volume
Wanhao has built up a reputation as one of the most popular and valuable 3D printing brands in the world. The Chinese company offer an excellent selection of filament-based printers and the Duplicator 7 is their first resin-based option in the SLA market. The Duplicator 7 focuses on the layer resolution and gives the user extremely detailed 3D prints. Much like the Anycubic Photon (which we will review later on) the Duplicator 7 uses a UV LED light source and prints with a maximum resolution of 35 microns. You’ll find that this level of detail is a lot more advanced than FDM-based printers and so if you’re looking for highly detailed miniatures then you should really take note of these SLA printers. Resin miniatures do require additional preparation before they can be used yet many people accept this for the complex design potential that resin-based printers offer. After all, when it comes to painting miniatures we all should know that preparation is everything.
The Duplicator 7 v1.5 edition comes with a handful of features that gives the user an easy and hassle-free printing process. For starters, the effective cooling system comes with additional air vents for increased airflow, the platform is strong and sits inside a stable frame, and the power button is hidden around the back to save any unfortunate slips during the printing process! This printer also comes with a sample pot of resin which is useful for quick tests and in the large online community you’ll find lots of advice and support to help you on your way. This is a powerful 3D printer that can handle complex and detailed prints which is exactly what you need when dealing with 28mm miniatures.
3D Printers For Miniatures Buying Guide
Printing 3D miniatures is a specialist project and you need to step into this hobby with a certain level of expectation. You need to consider the initial setup costs, the quality of the printer, the materials, the running costs, the construction materials, and overall durability – a lot of things to consider, right? These 3D printers are designed for precision and accuracy which means they are built with expensive and fragile components. You definitely get what you pay for and if you want professional 3D printing quality with high-end detail then you’re going to have to pay for it.
First things first though, you need to understand the reasons why you want a 3D printer? Do you just want to print out miniatures or will you be looking to try other designs as well? You’ve got two choices when choosing a 3D printer and it comes down to the FDM-based and SLA-based printers. This essentially breaks down to using either plastic or resin materials and we’ll briefly explain the differences between them now.
FDM 3D printer
FDM 3D printers work by using the extruder component to melt filament material onto a build platform. The hot-end of the extruder slowly builds up the layers of filament, one by one, to create the desired 3D model. FDM printers usually offer a larger build volume so it’s particularly useful for terrain, houses, castles and that style of model design. The operating costs are cheaper when it comes to the filament material and it’s a lot less messy to work with as well. Using filament with small designs can be fiddly and this is when you should start to consider SLA printers as they offer better resolution and higher quality than FDM printers. Saying that, you can upgrade FDM printers to get a better level of resolution but this can be costly and tricky if you don’t have the technical knowledge. It will still be a level or two away from the detail of SLA printers though. The bigger print area and flexibility is where the FDM printers excel and the dual extruder versions, although costly, do give you more versatility with complex designs such as overhanging parts like angel wings for example. In summary, it’s best not to expect your FDM printed miniatures to be on the same level as any store-bought miniatures.
SLA 3D printer
SLA printers work using a process in which resin is placed within a tray and then exposed to a light source. The light, which is usually based on digital light processing (DLP) or lasers, is used to harden the resin liquid which then forms a solid object one layer at a time. It can quite be quite dangerous using resin and working with these types of light sources so safety equipment is necessary. The limited printing area does restrict the model sizes and this is why we recommend them for small miniatures only. On the plus side, SLA printers work to outstanding accuracy and precision which in turn gives you extremely high-resolution miniature models. SLA printers usually produce these complex models straight out of the box so not much setting tinkering is required. Although these printers are more costly than their FDM counterpart, you can now find some great value with prices under the $1000 mark.
FDM or SLA 3d Printers?
It all depends on your preferences and you need to decide which are the most important factors for your situation. Resolution and quality or print size and operating costs? If you want to focus on 28mm miniatures with the complex and highly detailed designs then an SLA will be the best 3d printer for d&d miniatures. Resin is more costly but you should be willing to sacrifice a little cost for that extra detail in the miniatures. On the other hand, if you are looking for some flexibility in your 3D printing then an FDM printer will be better suited for your needs. You might want to venture away from miniatures from time to time and experiment with other ideas. The filament-based printer gives you that option and it also gives you a cheaper running cost as well. If you know what you want to print then you should be able to make this decision between filament and resin printers fairly easily.
3D Printers For Miniatures – Key Features
Precision 3d Printing
Printing complex and highly-detailed miniatures will require a certain degree of precision especially if you are looking to get worthwhile results. Buying a printer that can print to high levels of resolution will give you that precision and do your original design justice. No matter how detailed your designs are, if your hardware doesn’t offer the right level of precision then your end result is not going to turn out as you expected. Unfortunately, for your bank account anyway, precision comes at a cost. There is no getting around the fact that you will have to pay good money to get a 3D printer that can print to a high resolution. If you really want to print out 3D models of high quality then a printer with high levels of precision is a must. The Anycubic Photon is the one printer in this article that offers the best level of precision with a maximum resolution of 25 microns, proving why it’s the best 3d printer for 28mm miniatures.
Reliability & Accuracy
The great thing about this type of article is that it takes the guesswork away from you. You want to put your money into something that is going to last and give you months, or hopefully years of service. In this realm of 3D printing (miniatures and small designs), precision and accuracy are key. Unfortunately, using printers that are designed for precision and high levels of accuracy will mean that components are more fragile and prone to breaking. You need to ensure that if you’re buying a high-spec printer then it needs to be carefully constructed with durable materials. Buying from brands who are well known and reputable is important. Don’t get tempted by those “amazing” online deals from companies that you’ve never heard of. In simple terms, they are far from amazing deals. You’ll get nothing but cheap materials and poor workmanship. Stick to the known brands and save your money. The cost of replacement parts on some of these 3D printers are often very expensive and you’ll sometimes be better off buying a new one. It’ll save you money and a lot of frustration if you do the research now. Gather up as much knowledge as you can so you’re able to choose wisely when the time comes to part with your hard-earned cash!
Ease of Use
Choosing a 3D printer that is easy to use should be at the top of most beginners list. There is nothing more frustrating than buying something that is impossible to use, yet alone understand. Keep it simple with a basic machine for now and then you can always upgrade if you start to enjoy the hobby a little further down the line. You’ll probably have to sacrifice some of the advanced features but as we said, you don’t want to get frustrated and give up after a few days just because you’ve bought something that is out of your comfort zone. If you don’t want to be restricted in your choices then it’s worth reading up as much as possible before you purchase, which is why you’re here now! Even better, see if you can find someone locally who will show you the ropes and get yourself some free experience. If you want to print complex and detailed miniatures then you’ll only find success with the more advanced 3D printers.
Extra 3D Printer Features
You’ll come across more features as you look through the higher spec 3D printers. Most of these will make the printing process and your life a lot easier. However, you need to figure out if the extra cost is really worth it for your personal situation. For example, some printers come with filament detectors that warn you when they are close to running out. Other extra features include cartridges full of filament meaning you don’t have to worry about threading it yourself. Some printers offer a touchscreen instead of the standard “clicky” buttons. You can also get printers, like the Ender 3 Pro in this article, that will pause the printing if you experience a power outage or happen to run out of material. All of these features are designed to make your lives easier when working with 3D printers, but they are not essential by any means, so don’t worry if the printer you have your eyes on doesn’t tick off all of these features.
Our Final Thoughts
If you’re looking to print 3D miniatures for your D&D and other RPG/tabletop games then you want to make sure that you end up with something that you can proudly use in game situations. You need something that is able to print out highly detailed miniatures that are clear and as you had designed them! Furthermore, you also don’t want to end up burning all of your salary on printers and materials, you need something that is economical and versatile. It does seems like we are asking a lot here but there are one or two 3D printers in this article that are up to the task. The Ender 3 Pro and Anytime Photon are both worthy contenders. Diving headfirst into the world of 3D printing might seem daunting at first but as soon you start to understand how to optimize the setup and what works best in terms of materials, your wildest D&D creations can start to come to life! You’ll be able to custom-build your characters, the terrain and props, anything that you can think of. 3D printing is growing in popularity and the process will get better each year. Jump on board now and get yourself clued up because you’re tabletop games are only going to benefit from this new hobby of yours. We hope that you found this article interesting and that you’ve now got a great idea on which is the best 3d printer for miniatures.