Games have always been held in high esteem by humans, regardless of the era that they live in. From the first sports practiced by our ancestors, all the way up to the most advanced video games with graphics that nearly resemble real life, we’ve always put quite a bit of effort into having more fun. Now, with the technology of 3D printing, we can bring our favorite parts of the gaming world into the real world with miniatures.
3D Printing – Save Money on Tabletop
Tabletop games may have lost some popularity since the rise of video games, but they’re still thriving with die-hard communities of fans. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of tabletop strategy games like Warhammer or tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, few games can match the mix of socialization and fun offered by this format.
Unfortunately, one of the main reasons that tabletop gaming has seen a drop in players is because of the expenses involved in enjoying these kinds of games. Of course, you have RPGs on the more affordable end of the spectrum, but strategy tabletop games are the ones that tear away at your wallet.
Whether you love Warhammer or Warmachine, you have to admit that it takes quite a toll on your bank statement to keep enjoying your hobby. One of the best ways to improve the affordability of tabletop gaming is by building your miniatures using a 3D printer, which is a brilliant application of the technology.
If you want to make your miniatures, bits, and terrain using a 3D printer, you need to invest in a model with a suitable degree of precision. Finding a precise enough 3D printer for miniatures can often be a challenge, especially if you don’t have much experience with these kinds of devices.
Thankfully, we’re here to help you make a decision when it comes to choosing the best 3D printer for miniatures. Over the course of this guide, we’ll cover five of the best choices on the market for creating your miniatures. We’ll also go over some of the aspects to look for in the best ones around.
Best 3D Printers for Miniature Printing
As the titles suggest, the following 3D printers are in no specific order and each one caters to a different customer and their needs and budget. That said, here are some of the best 3D printers for miniature printing:
1. Ultimaker 2+ 3D Printer – Best Top-End 3D Printer for Miniatures
If you need the best 3D printer for miniatures and you don’t care about the price point, the Ultimaker 2+ is the one for you. Quality is always necessary for a 3D printer for miniatures, because you’ll need the printer to be built to high standards to achieve the precision you’re looking for.
While this printer may be expensive, the construction is unmatched, which means that you won’t only be able to make miniatures, but also custom bits for them. If you want to be able to swap out weapons, armor bits, or anything else on your miniatures, the Ultimaker 2+ should work perfectly.
If you plan on making miniatures of different sizes, then you’ll find that the quick-swap nozzles are much more convenient than the ones on other 3D printer models. All you have to do is pop off one of the three nozzles and then replace it with a larger or smaller one to get the precision or speed that you need.
Other than the nozzles, you can also switch out the filament with ease, so you don’t have to worry about this being a high-cost 3D printer with an equally steep learning curve. Regardless of whether you’re new to 3D printing or you’re a beginner, you won’t have too much trouble with the Ultimaker 2+.
Of course, every product has its downsides, and this model doesn’t quite have the print speed to keep up with some of the other products in its price range. Still, if quality is the most crucial aspect of the miniatures you plan on making, you should take a closer look at the Ultimaker 2+.
2. Sindoh 3DWOX DP200 3D Printer – Best High-End 3D Printer for Miniatures
While the Ultimaker 2+ may be an expensive alternative that is as capable as its cost would lead you to believe, the Sindoh DP200 is a little more modest in its features and price point. Of course, when you have a 3D printer over 1000 dollars, these terms are relative, and this product is still quite capable.
First off, you have to take a look at the filament cartridge system, which makes this system much more convenient compared to other models where you have to load the filament yourself. If you have never used a 3D printer before and you need one for your miniatures, this system is ideal for you.
Another user-friendly inclusion in this 3D printer is the assisted bed leveler, which will automatically ensure that you don’t have any problems with the angle of the bed relative to the nozzle. For all of these helpful features, this is still an accurate and detailed 3D printer for miniatures.
The resolution of 50 microns means that you won’t have to worry about your minis coming out looking like they’ve been slightly melted compared to the original designs. Some of the other impressive features of this device include a camera mounted inside the construction chamber and a 5-inch LCD.
There are some issues with this 3D printer, but most of them are minor concerns that won’t affect your minis. The most significant problem is that you can only use the rather expensive filament cartridges which are designed for this printer specifically. Overall, this is an excellent model for those that prize value for money.
3. FlashForge 3D Printer – Best 3D Printer for Miniatures Under $1000
The FlashForger 3D Printer is the first option on this list that’s available for under 1000$ dollars. While you’ll have to sacrifice some model detail for this lower price point, you may not be as disappointed as you would expect from a relatively affordable model like the FlashForge.
Contrary to what you would expect from a 3D printer with such a low price point, this model is built to high standards. For example, the frame of this 3D printer is made out of metal so you won’t have to worry about it wearing out over time, though the working components have seen just as much care.
For instance, the guide rods are machined for exceptional precision, allowing you to make minis with slight details that won’t get muddled by the printer. The build platform is made out of aircraft aluminum, so you won’t have to worry about it warping or being damaged over the time that it’s used.
If you want to check on the status of your build quickly, you can always take a glance at the LCD screen near the control input, which is one of the few concessions to user-friendliness on the printer.
This brings us to the 3D printer’s downsides, as it isn’t exactly designed for new users. You’ll need some extra patience to get used to this model if you’ve never used a 3D printer before, which is an unfortunate downside of how it’s designed. But, if you have the know-how or you’re willing to learn, this is one of the more affordable yet capable 3D printers for miniatures.
4. HICTOP CR-10S 3D Printer – Best Affordable 3D Printer for Miniatures
If you’re looking to save as much money as possible on your new 3D printer, this model from HICTOP is the best option on this list. Available for around 500 dollars, you may be concerned about losing out on functionality with this product, but you may be surprised by it.
As you would expect from other low-price 3D printers, this model isn’t exactly meant to be user-friendly for people who have never 3D printed before. However, if you have the dedication, you can learn to work with this 3D printer in a relatively short period, and you’ll be making quality miniatures before you know it.
Thanks to the dual lead screws on the z-axis, you’ll be able to benefit from some of the best precision from a 3D printer in this price range. As you would expect while printing miniatures, the level of detail you can achieve is integral, and this model will give you the best results for your money.
You may be surprised by some of the advanced features that come included with this 3D printer, such as the warning when your filament has nearly run out. The CR-10S can also resume a printing job after a power outage, ensuring that you won’t lose your filament and hard work.
We’ve already mentioned the most significant issue with this 3D printer, and that is its lack of user-friendliness. The instructions are unclear, and there isn’t even a complete manual, meaning that you have to resort to the internet to get used to this product. Of course, you have to make some compromises for such a low price.
5. BIBO 3D Printer – Best 3D Printer for Terrain
Of course, if you’re going to be printing out miniatures for wargames or RPGs, you’ll also end up needing some terrain pieces. Unlike miniatures, you won’t often find terrain that looks exactly like what you need at hobby shops and other sources, so being able to make your own is crucial.
The BIBO is an excellent choice for anyone looking to make a combination of miniatures and terrain for their tabletop. The key feature which enables this is the inclusion of dual extruders, which are designed to improve the printing speed of your objects while still maintaining consistent quality.
This 3D printer features a touchscreen interface, making it easy to use if you have experience with these machines. Unfortunately, the BIBO isn’t an ideal product for new users, as it has a pretty steep learning curve. While the instructions are rather clear, it will still take you some time to get used to operating the BIBO.
A feature which helps make this product even more versatile is the inclusion of a laser engraver. The ability to engrave your miniatures means that you’ll be able to personalize them even further with runes and other markings that need depth, as well as putting handy gameplay markings on your terrain pieces. This machine is also smart enough to warn you when your filament is running low.
Another helpful aspect is the ability to control this 3D printer using wifi. All you need to do is make sure that your 3D printer and the device you want to use are connected to the same network. Overall, this is a capable 3D printer for the creation of miniatures that requires a bit of experience to get the most out of.
Why You Need the Best 3D Printer to Make Miniatures
So now you may be wondering why you should put so much effort into ensuring that you get the best 3D printer to make your miniatures. Some buyers assume that they can get away with picking the cheapest 3D printer on the market and hoping for the best, but this is often the worst choice. People that are better versed in tabletop strategy can attest to how many bad quality models can come out of less than perfect 3D printers. One such enthusiast is from Tabletop Minions:
There are many different kinds of 3D printers out there, and all of them are ideal for a specific set of tasks. For example, some of the largest 3D printers are designed to make larger items in excellent detail, but they lack the precision to make small objects in that same resolution.
If you want your miniatures to come out perfect, you’re going to need a 3D printer that is optimized for precision tasks. Unfortunately, most 3D printers that have such a high level of detail will feature an elevated price point when compared to many of the other devices on the market.
Of course, if you’re only looking to make miniatures, you also have the issue that you may not be experienced when using a 3D printer. 3D printing is a skill that you develop over time, and it’s a challenge to find machines that have all of the necessary precision for miniature making but are also user-friendly.
As you can see, there are quite a few different aspects that will need to be balanced when you’re making your purchase. The issue is that you may not know the differences between different 3D printers all too well unless you already have an interest in the hobby, and this is why we hope our reviews have helped.
However, we feel like the next section will help you find exactly what you need in the best 3D printer for miniatures.
What to Look for in the Best 3D Printer for Miniatures
If you’re new to buying 3D printers, you may be wondering what the most important features are. Let’s go over some of the most critical aspects to consider when purchasing a 3D printer to create your miniatures.
When deciding on the right 3D printer to make your miniatures, the first thing you should look for is sufficient precision for your needs. As we’ve mentioned, the creation of detailed miniatures means that your 3D printer needs to be able to produce items at a much higher resolution than other models.
If you fail to find a 3D printer with the right degree of detail, you’ll probably end up with miniatures that came out nothing like you expected them to. Remember that your design files can be as detailed as possible, but you may end up bottlenecked by your hardware (your 3D printer’s quality). Here’s Thomas Sanladerer – a YouTuber with in-depth guides about 3D printing – with a handy guide to improving a 3D printer’s precision regardless of the model.
Keep in mind that more precise 3D printers will often cost more than ones with a lower printing resolution. Unfortunately, if you’re planning on making miniatures, you won’t be able to compromise precision for the sake of price when it comes to this area because they simply won’t come out as expected.
If you have the best 3D printer in the world, you won’t get much use out of it if it’s constantly out of service. Reliability is one of the most critical features to look for in the best 3D printers, whether or not they’re made for miniature creation, though such precise work tends to take a toll on the machine.
You’ll need much finer tolerances in a 3D printer that is made for small, detailed objects like miniatures, and that means that they’ll suffer in the domain of reliability. Build quality is integral when you have such a small margin of error in your 3D printer, running up the cost even further.
When you buy your new 3D printer, you’ll want to be sure that you get it from a company that has experience in the field, as that will improve the reliability immensely. Buying printers from unproven sources could end up hurting you in the long run if the machine stops working on you.
Having to sit around and worry whether or not your printer will die on you halfway through a job isn’t an enjoyable experience. While a more expensive 3D printer may end up costing you more up front, you may end up spending more replacing it when it eventually fails on you.
Ease of Use
Up next, you’ll also have to account for how easy your 3D printer is to use, especially if you don’t have experience with these kinds of devices. If you’re a 3D printing beginner, you should start off with a simpler machine that you’ll be able to use, even if it means sacrificing a bit of precision.
Of course, if you already know how to use a 3D printer, then you have a much wider range of products to choose from. If you don’t want to be restricted to a small pool of devices that are simple enough for beginners, you may want to consider learning about the functioning of 3D printers before your purchase.
In the end, the importance of your 3D printer’s user-friendliness depends on your willingness to learn how to use it and whether or not you already have experience. If you want to be able to make the most advanced miniatures using your 3D printer, then you’ll have to learn sooner or later.
When you get to 3D printers in the higher price ranges, you’ll find that many of them come included with additional features that make your job easier as a user. For example, some products have touchscreens equipped instead of buttons, so you won’t have to worry about a complicated user interface.
Beyond that, you’ll also find that some models are equipped with a filament detection system that will inform you when you’re about to run out, making refills more convenient. Other models will use pre-constructed cartridges full of filament so you won’t even have to worry about threading it yourself.
Other 3D printers have systems in place that will resume printing if your job is interrupted by a lack of filament or a power outage. This failsafe can prevent you from losing hours of work since you’ll be able to pick up exactly where you left off on your printing job.
3D printing your miniatures will benefit you in both economic and creative terms since you’ll be able to custom-make any bits or minis you need for your game. From turn-based strategy to RPGs, a 3D printer can come in extremely handy for any tabletop gamer.
We hope that this review has been able to help you find the right 3D printer to create your miniatures.