The Best 3D printer for miniatures in 2021

Our verdict:

The Anycubic Photon Mono is hands down the best 3D printer for miniatures because its produces high quality 3D prints without the expensive price tag.

3D printed miniatures

February 23, 2021 (Last updated)

7 min read

Looking for the best 3D printer to spice up your tabletop games? You've come to the right place. We've narrowed down a list of the best 3d printers for miniatures.

If you want the TLDR. Here's our findings:

Top miniature 3D printersOur verdict
Anycubic Photon Mono SBest 3D printer for miniatures
Creality Ender 3Best for terrains
Formlabs 3 Best in details and accuracy

How did we come up with this list?

We've collected a bunch of pain points and things that people like about their miniature 3D printer from these following sources.

  1. Printed Minis subreddit

  2. 3D printing miniature facebook group

  3. Online reviews

  4. And our own experience as a 3D printing company

Without further ado, let's get started.

Top 3D printers for miniatures

1. Anycubic Photo Mono

We know your time is valuable so let's start off with the best 3D printer for miniatures. The Anycubic Photon Mono is the best 3D printer for D&D miniatures because it offers the best print quality at a budget price.

So what's so special about this 3D printer better that it blew away the competition?

Background info

The Anycubic Photon Mono is an LCD 3D printer. LCD 3D printers are a subset of SLA 3D printing and uses resin as it's main material. For those who don't know what SLA 3D printing is, SLA 3D printers use UV laser to selectively harden parts of resin. [1] This makes SLA 3D printers highly accurate with almost no visible layer lines.

What makes LCD 3D printer a little different is that it uses an LCD screen to mask the UV light onto to the resin to the form the shape, layer by layer. This makes LCD 3D printers a lot faster than SLA but a bit less accurate and a bit limited in size. LCD 3D printers also way cheaper compared to SLA 3D printers.

Technical Specs

Build volume130mm(L)*80mm(W)*165mm(H)
XY resolution51 microns
3D printing technologyLCD-based SLA
ConnectivityUSB

Sample 3D prints

We 3d printed these miniatures using our own Anycubic Photon Mono.

Pros

  • Ease of use
  • Beginner-friendly
  • High quality
  • High resolution 3D prints
  • Almost invisible print lines
  • Very fast printing time
  • One of the cheapest resin 3D printers in the market

Cons

  • Complaints about the software being buggy
  • Material cost can be on the pricier side for solid models
  • Can only print miniatures up to 6.4"
  • Can get addicting

How much does it cost to 3D print a miniature with the Anycubic Photon Mono?

It depends on the volume of your 3D model. Their resin costs about $40/kg. Assuming, a model volume of 1000 mm³ = 1 gram of resin. We're looking. at $0.04 per 1000 mm³ or simply $0.04/gram.

Our formula looks something like this:

Model volume (in grams) X $0.040 = Total material cost

Note however that this doesn't include any overhead cost. So if you're planning to start your own 3D printing business selling miniatures, you need to account for those as well.

Here's what each model's material cost would look like.

Hero Forge Miniature Ogre miniature - Thingiverse
Height28mm130mm
Volume50grams142.5grams
Material cost$2$5.7

Is it worth it?

Hell yeah! If you want great looking miniatures for your tabletop games then you should get a 3D printer that can produce high resolution prints. The level of detail that you get from this price point is insane.

Our verdict

We own industrial SLA printers, Formlabs 3 and many more, but when it comes to 3D printing miniatures, the Anycubic Photon Mono has been our go to machine. Not only is it the right tool for the job, but it blows away all the other LCD and DLP printers on the market.

We've tested a bunch of LCD and DLP printers but we were never satisfied with them because of the amount of failed 3D prints that we get from them. As seasoned 3D printing professionals, we and we think this is the best 3d printer for miniatures especially if you're a beginner.

2. Formlabs Form 3

Before we fell in love with the Anycubic Photon, Formlabs 3 was our bread and butter when it comes to 3D printing miniatures. Unlike the Anycubic, Formlabs is a full on SLA 3D printer. This makes it more accurate, but at the same time, slower to 3D print compared to LCD 3D printers.

Technical Specs

Build volume14.5 × 14.5 × 18.5 cm (5.7 × 5.7 × 7.3 in)
XY resolution25 microns
3D printing technologySLA
ConnectivityUSB/WiFi

Build volume: 14.5 × 14.5 × 18.5 cm (5.7 × 5.7 × 7.3 in)

XY resolution: 25 microns

Sample 3D prints

Pros

  • High accuracy
  • Versatile, not limited to miniatures

Cons

  • Takes longer to 3D print miniatures compared to LCD printers
  • Expensive as hell

Is the Form 3 worth it for printing miniatures?

Unless you have the money to spend, we don't think it's worth it. Both the Form 3 and Anycbuic 3D printers have almost the same build volume and the quality doesn't seem to be that far off, at least, when it comes to miniatures. And you can probably purchase 10 Anycubic Photon Mono with the price of one Formlabs 3.

If you're planning to do more than miniature 3D printing, then maybe it is. We use our Formlabs 3 for our 3D printing service and it has been reliable for quite some time now. (We started with the Formlabs 2). But over time, we've seen less value in it. It can't 3D print large objects and it's too slow to 3D print miniatures or other regular sized 3D prints. We've come to a point where we use the Photon Mono to do most of the jobs that the Form 3 used to do.

3. Creality Ender 3 v2

The Creality Ender 3 is one of the many FDM printers on the market.

What caught our attention is its immense popularity among the tabletop and gaming miniatures community. Every Facebook or Reddit post that we see, everyone seems to mention the Creality Ender 3.

So what makes this 3D printer so popular among the miniatures printing community?

First off, it's cheap. The Ender 3 v2 costs around $200. The material cost is also cheap compared to its resin counterpart.

The Creality Ender 3 has become the entry level 3D printer for many beginners.

We personally don't own one because we've sworn off FDM 3D printers for life. We hate cleaning FDM supports an the print quality doesn't reach our standards. It would take hours of polishing to get a smooth surface with an FDM 3D printer. And when printing larger models, FDM 3D printing has a tendency to warp. We'd rather use our industrial SLA 3D printer for that. (Slight flex).

Technical Specs

Build volume192mm(L)*120mm(W)*245mm(H)
XY Resolution100 microns

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Cheap
  • Large build volume
  • Great for 3D printing miniature terrains

Cons

  • Takes a long time to 3D print miniatures, about 5-8 hours.
  • Print quality isn't as good as resin printers
  • Low layer resolution
  • Print supports are annoying to clean

Unlike the other 3d printers listed here, the Creality Ender 3 does not use a touch screen interface. It uses a knob to navigate your 3D printer settings. Some people actually prefer this method over touch screen because its more responsive and less susceptible to glitches.

Best 3d printer for terrains

Where the Creality Ender 3 shines is on 3d printing terrains. Most of the miniature community actually owns both a resin 3D printer and FDM 3D printer. They use their FDM 3D printers to print their terrain models because it's cheaper and it has a larger build volume compared to their resin counterpart. Terrains are less complex in design and don't necessarily need a smooth surface finish so you can get away with 3D printing them in FDM.

Here's an image of a 3D printed terrain using the Creality Ender 3 courtesy of /u/Singuy888

Our verdict

If you're on a tight budget, the Creality Ender 3 might be a good option for you. The Creality Ender 3 v2 is actually more expensive than the Photon Mono S but the materials used on these machines are cheaper compared to resin printing.

For miniature printing, you might be able to get away with it but the quality is relatively bad compared to resin 3D printers that we mentioned here. If you're making a large miniature, then this would be a lot cheaper compared to its resin counter part.

Our final thoughts

So what is the best 3d printer for miniatures?

The Anycubic Photon Mono is hands down the best 3D printer for tabletop miniatures. It's cheap, reliable, easy to use, and it produces high quality 3D prints. For 3D printing terrain, our top choice is the Creality Ender 3.

If you're a beginner and thinking of buying a 3D printer that fits your budget, you can't go wrong with this 3D printer. Heck, it's even cheaper than an FDM printer but with 10x the print quality.

Honorable mentions

  • Ultimaker 2

  • Flashforge Creator Pro