3D printing has become a hobby in itself, with more and more people taking to the idea of creating their own things. The manufacturers have also caught on to the trend by continuing to drop the price of 3D printers. These days, a particular niche of 3D printing is gaining popularity- the art of 3d printing gaming miniatures. Using 3D printers to create your own minis gives you all the skills you need to take your design game up a notch.With time, 3D printer manufacturers have improved their quality and authenticity, while dropping their prices. This has lead to a boom in the purchase of 3D printers by anyone interested in creating their own minis. When you utilize one of the best 3d printers for miniatures, the possibilities are endless- you could end up designing your own models, and even your own game! If designing from scratch seems overwhelming, you can easily download millions of templates available over the web.
Before you go out to buy a 3D printer, try to keep the following things in mind:
What are you planning to print?
Any models, landscapes, and details that are bigger than 0.1 mm are easy to make! FFF 3D printers in the market make it very easy for anyone willing to create details of that scale. Miniature figurines that are 54 mm and up can be made with the help of a good quality and well setup FFF 3D printer, although to make them look their best, there need to be a few final touches made by sculpting or painting once you print out the mini.
Figures that are between 28 mm to 54 mm are the hardest of minis that you can 3d print. They are easy to print using an SLA printer, but it takes some time and practice to achieve your desired results. If you are adamant about using FFF printers to get minis of this scale, you will have to invest in a very good quality FFF 3D printer, and there might still be few printing lines that you might have to remove manually.
What nozzle diameter works best for you?
The nozzle is the opening from where the heated plastic will come out to create your model. Most of the best 3d printer for 28mm miniatures have a nozzle size of 0.4 mm. Some printers also give you the option of swapping the 0.4 mm nozzle with 0.2 mm nozzle to produce finer details. However, you should not ideally exceed nozzles of sizes above 0.4 mm.
How much XY precision for should you aim?
The precision of the printer head in the X and Y directions (basically every direction other than up and down) is called XY precision. This quantity determined by how good the quality of the bearings, belts, & motors is; and other parameters such as how rigid the frame of the printer is. 3D printing miniatures come out best if you use an all-metal 3D printer.
What layer thickness and material type works best?
Layer thickness is the height of each individual layer of heated plastic used in making your mini. The lower the thickness, the more detail can be observed, but the slower it becomes to print your mini. To get the best results, of 3d printing gaming miniatures a layer thickness of 0.1 mm or less recommended. Plastic such as ABS, PLA+, and PLA are commonly used with FFF printers, but to get the ultimate finish on 3d printing miniatures some sculpting and the painting required post creation.
Now that you have all the important points to keep in mind, let’s look at a few products that deliver the best value to you in their price range:
Best 3D Printer for Miniatures
1. XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 3D Printer
Though the Da Vinci Jr. may look compact and lightweight, it has a very sturdy build with a resolution of 0.1 mm to 0.4 mm (100 to 400 microns). It is designed in such a way that the filament is automatically taken to the nozzle and ensuring that it is loaded properly and is ready to start 3d printing miniatures.
- It comes with free XYZmaker 3d design software, printing software, and steam printing curriculum.
- The calibration in this printer can be done very easily, as it is a Z-offset calibration instead of the more time-consuming three-knob calibration. The Z-offset calibration allows you to adjust the position of the printer bed on the LCD screen itself.
- Its maximum print speed can go up to 100 mm /sec.
2. Monoprice 115365 Select Mini 3D Printer
Monoprice offers reasonable printers for you to achieve your dreams of 3d printing gaming miniatures. This 3d printer comes fully assembled and calibrated, right at the factory, so you don’t have to spend time on re-assembling parts based on vague manuals.
- It supports all types of filament.
- This printer is compact for any desk, thanks to its small footprint and open frame design.
- It comes with a sample PLA filament and a microSD card that is preloaded with model files, so you can immediately start printing.
3. LulzBot Mini Desktop 3D Printer
This is one of the best 3d printers for miniatures since it is very versatile and easy to use. This printer uses open source hardware so that you can build your minis without any restrictions on hardware. Every printer also comes with one year warranty and phone and email support.
Each print is started by self-cleaning the nozzle to give you a perfectly level first layer. No complex manual adjustment is required.
- This printer has an all-metal nozzle, giving you quicker heat up and more stable print temperatures. The heat sinks also have active cooling, so the heat does not damage your mini and is removed without any hassles.
- A prevalent problem in 3d printing is bed adhesion. This printer solves that by using a PEI surface that keeps your minis in their place with zero adhesion.
4. Dremel DigiLab 3D45 3D Printer
This printer is perhaps the best 3d printer for 28mm miniatures, due to its reliability and flexibility in use. It is most commonly used for higher education purposes and in corporations. It also supports advanced filament types such as nylon and eco-ABS. Another great feature is it comes with a one year warranty!
- It can detect filament via RFID so the printer can automatically recognize and modify settings for optimal printing.
- It has a fully enclosed workspace with a glass build plate that can be removed as and when required.
- The maximum temperature of the nozzle and the glass build plate is 280 °C and 100 °C respectively, with an operating temperature of 16-29 °C.
How 3D printer works?
In simple words, a 3D printers take a digital file and make a three-dimensional solid object. A 3D printer helps you to make the small versions of your future closet with appropriate measurements; to create the war battle soldiers, tanks, guns, etc. in details. Here, we will have a quick look at how a 3D printer works.
Creating a 3D object with the help of a 3D printer is a part of an Additive Manufacturing (AM). In such operation, multiple layers of a printing material are created until the final 3D piece gets its shape.
Working of a 3D printer:
- First of all, the user creates a 3D object in your computer which you want to print. The file you have created will be, mostly, the Computer Aided Design (CAD) file.
- Then, the connection is made with the 3D printer you bought.
- The printer will create the object by using the scanned file with the help of a 3D scanner or using the 3D modeling software.
- For this, the 3D printer will make a number of layers of the object and then stick them together starting from bottom to top one by one to make a final piece.
- Each part of the object including hands, legs, eyes, leaves, wheels, etc. is made by following the same process and then stick together to convert your digital file into a solid 3D object.
Any object of the real world or your imagination can be created using the 3D printer. You just need to have the correct dimensions and the gaps at appropriate places.
Types of 3D printing technologies:
There are primarily four types of 3D printing technologies;
1) FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)
The FDM is the widely used technology for 3D printing across the world. It has similar functionality like a hot glue gun. It uses thermoplastic filaments to create the solid objects.
2) SLA/DLP (Stereolithography/Digital Laser Projection)
These both technologies are same with a little bit of difference. Both use the light for growing the models but in different ways. The DLP projects the light onto the resin (sticky substance) to create the shapes of various layers simultaneously. The SLA flashes a tiny dot of light on a particular area while creating a model layer.
3) SLS (Laser Sintering)
As the name suggests, the SLS uses the laser technology on a printer bed to form a stable layer by fusing the particles. This procedure is repeated until the final object created.
4) CLIP (Continuous Liquid Interface Production)
Initially named as continuous Liquid Interphase Printing, CLIP technology makes solid objects with smooth sides. It also uses the light on the resin to solidify the material layers and creates a needed 3D model. This process is incredibly fast compared to the other 3D printing technologies.
I hope this article has served as a great guide for you to pick the best 3d printer based on your miniature figure making requirements. If you are new to 3d printing, take your time, go through our tips again, and research more about what you want to print.