3D printing has been a super-duper amazing thing to follow lately. The technology has greatly developed recently so that we have 3D printed houses nowadays, with real people actually living in those. Just imagine for a second a printed house using a 3D printing machine.
Well, if we can print houses, what’s stopping us from miniature printing our favorite characters? Be it for social media or for decorating your room or car, a miniature 3D printer is one of the best things you can add to your tech gadgets today.
The joy of printing your miniatures just as you want them to be is unparalleled. From your favorite Marvel figurines to R2D2 from Star Wars or the minions, 3D printers make everything possible.
The market for these magical machines is also huge. The global 3D printing market value stood at $13 billion in 2020, and the expected growth rate is 21% this year. 3D printers for miniatures may be a segment in the wider industry, but it has grown into a prominent one.
Especially among the hobbyists, pharma companies, and researchers as they use the small 3D printed models for research. As for people like you and me, we just want to build our collection of miniatures and maybe even sell them. Why not? If you can build unique models, selling them would be a great idea.
And this brings us to the main question, which type of 3D printer for miniatures is best? There are literally hundreds of choices. One Amazon search gives more than 700 results. So, to make things easier for you, we have thoroughly tested and reviewed the most popular ones only to select the top six 3D printers for miniatures you can buy in 2021.
Top 3D Printers for Miniatures in 2021
|ANYCUBIC Photon LCD 3D Printer|
Build Volume: 4.52 x 2.56 x 6.1 inch
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|Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer|
Build Volume: 9.0 x 5.9 x 5.5 inch
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|FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro|
Build Volume: 8.9 x 5.8 x 5.9 inch
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|Dremel Digilab 3D20 3D Printer|
Build Volume: 8.66 x 8.66 x 9.84 inch
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|ELEGOO Mars 2 Pro 3D Printer|
Build Volume: 21.7 x 11.3 x 11.11 inch
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|QIDI TECH X-Pro 3D Printer|
Build Volume: 9.1 x 5.9 x 5.9 inch
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1. ANYCUBIC Photon Mono – For Professional Workspaces Requiring Fast Turnout
Starting out, one of the best things about the Anycubic Photon Mono is how easy it is to assemble. The most “difficult” task with this is to slide the build plate in its dedicated housing panel and tighten the nut from the top.
Yes, that’s it. It is nothing like the other 3D printers where you have to plug in three different motors and dabble with various plugins.
Also, the Photon Mono gives you a metallic scrapper in addition to a plastic one.
Getting to the technical stuff, this 3D printer for miniatures marks a new territory even for AnyCubic. The MSLA (will talk about it later in the features section) mono LCD-toting printer makes the printing highly efficient and fast. This holds especially when we compare it to the previous AnyCubic models.
It is a high detail 3D printer for miniatures, and its monochrome LCD panels enhance the print speed.
Unlike other 3D printers, the AnyCubic Photon Mono comes with a resin cure time test printed sheet. It is useful in honing the optimal cure time to get highly detailed prints in lesser time.
Among its competitors, especially the ones you will see on this list, the AnyCubic 3D printing machine is the fastest of all.
- It offers 2.5X faster printing speed than similar models.
- The Z-axis motion system makes the printing more sturdy and precise.
- The printer boasts a reduced resin cure time of 1.5 seconds for each layer.
- Clunky Photon software and less-intuitive interface.
- Loading the slice on the printer is also difficult.
2. Creality Ender 3 Pro – Great For Hobbyists and Small Businesses
Due to the intricate technology, 3D printers for miniatures or other purposes are costly. We can say that if you do not have any specific purpose or if you are not an enthusiast, buying such an expensive product is not smart.
But the Creality Ender 3 Pro version throws all the talk about high cost out the window. It is surely an upgrade over the Creality Ender 3, which was the go-to 3D printer for hobbyists.
Right off the bat, the Creality Ender 3 Pro is built for all levels of hobbyists.
This means that if you are a beginner at this, the Creality Ender 3 Pro is the best choice. And the same applies if you are a pro. Starting with the assembling part. You need to bring out the mechanical guy inside you to assemble this printer.There are more than usual parts included in the box, which can be a bit confusing. But if you are good at following instructions, it will be like a walk in the park. Coming to the printing abilities, it offers a large size magnetic bed for printing.
These two things you will not find in some of the expensive models, so that’s a good thing. Secondly, the filament pathway is efficient to print with flexible materials and makes it easy to use.
Unlike the AnyCubic model, the printer interface has a wheel and button for selection. Along with the extra time required to assemble it, miniature printing with this 3D printer also takes a lot of time.
If you are cool with these issues, then you have hit the jackpot with this 3D printer. With the Creality Ender 3 Pro, we have found that you can also modify its structure to ensure that it conforms to your 3D printing requirements.
The ability to modify a 3D printer is not found in any other machine on the list. And for a mechanically sound person, using the same 3D printer to create even better models is easy, while maintaining the cost of 3D printing.
- The TPU loads flawlessly in the printer and gives high-quality prints.
- It can resume printing after abrupt outages or disruptions without losing precision.
- Dual speed printing modes (50 mm per second and 100 mm per second).
- The magnetic bed needs to be readjusted after every print.
- Cura software for slicing is also outdated.
3. FlashForge Creator Pro – Great for Bulk 3D Printing (Professional or Business)
The FlashForge Creator Pro does not require any assembly. Yes, it comes pre-assembled (most of the parts), and all you have to do is bolt the print heads, insert the filament, and place the top cover.
And yes, it comes with two filament rolls. These are not just testing rolls, but FlashForge gives big rolls of blue and white filament rolls, which is pretty awesome.
Especially because none of the other 3D printers for miniatures on the list provide the same.
It’s the small things that matter when you really want to choose the best 3D printer. One minor but important thing worth mentioning here is that this 3D printer comes with two anti-overflow boards.
Now to the features. The dual extruders are clearly a clear winner here. Unlike other models, especially which have IDEX based systems, the nozzles in this one are aligned.
This allows for faster and precision printing, having decreased travel time. You can also use only one nozzle or extruder at once. While doing so, the other extruder won’t drip any ink from the filament. We can only expect the Pro version to be better than the previous ones.
The Creator Pro is better on several grounds, but mostly it is the metal frame and the dual covers. This makes the printer more stable, safe, and user-friendly. Due to the new frame, you will get a 60% increase in printing speed (well, not exactly, but it was close).
There are many features in the FlashPrint software, like choosing the raft, changing the speed, creating a wall, etc., that will give you a great quality 3D print. For the part where we tell where this printer stands out from others, that is the ability to 3D print with ABS material.Unlike other printers on the list, some of which cannot even print with ABS material the Creator Pro ensures high-quality ABS 3D printing.
- Super smooth layering with precision lining and finishing.
- Dual extruders can print miniatures in two colors.
- Calibrating the bed is cumbersome and time-consuming.
- There is a bit of stringing (drooling ink from the nozzle) in the printing process.
4. Dremel Digilab – Best 3D Printer for Educational Purposes
This is the best 3D printer for miniatures as the Dremel Digilab is widely used in schools and colleges.
Yes, we have started to include 3D printing technology in the school curriculum.
Because it has to be used by and for the kids at times, the design and functions are simple and straightforward.
This printer is built for printing out of the box, which means no assembling is required here. We can say the same for the FlashForge Pro, but there the calibration is a real bummer. But with the Digilab 3D20, all you need to do is level the printing bed and insert the filament, which is also simple.
Although the bed leveling here is manual, it is not as hard as the FlashForge. You will receive clear instructions included inside the box. Among its many features, the touch screen module is quite impressive. Everything is enclosed inside the box, which makes it safe to use in front of the kids.
If you are an educator or looking to explore the 3D printing niche, this is a good start. There is not a lot of information to go on with this one. Everything is pretty simple, and you won’t have to spend time configuring the right settings.
There is no other printer on the list that is as easy to use and assemble as the Dremel Digilab, not even the AnyCubic Photon. That is why we would recommend using this printer in the most beginner-friendly environment.
- It offers out-of-the-box printing with reliable quality control settings premeditated into the system.
- Simple design and small assembly are great for beginners.
- The extruder temperature can go up to 230° C, which is higher than its competitors.
- You are only required to use the 3D PLA filament as others are not compatible.
- The cost of this 3D printer is rather high.
5. ELEGOO Mars 2 – For Detailed 3D Printing Miniatures
Notice the “2” after Elegoo Mars. Well, this implies that the Elegoo Mars 2 is the next version of its older brother. But is there a difference?
It has the same dimensions, same style, similar adjustable configuration, similar display screen, the same build plate.
So, what’s the difference, and why would anyone buy Elegoo Mars 2? Here’s why!
Between its forebears and the next models, the Mars 2 sits quietly between all of them with a pocket-friendly 3D printer for miniatures tag. Elegoo has maintained its fast printing abilities in this one but with a slightly larger build plate.
It offers resin printing just like the AnyCubic Mono Pro reviewed above. The monochrome LCD panel is the one that enables faster printing. Another reason for the same is faster layer curing time.
In the previous versions, the curing time was 7-8 seconds per layer. But in this, one the same has been reduced to 2-3 seconds, which gives quicker printing options. With an increased build plate size and a bigger fuel tank, you won’t have to refill the resin. Not to mention that a bigger build plate allows printing bigger miniatures.
Some subtle additions in the Elegoo Mars 2 3D printer for miniatures make it worth buying. For instance, the changed hex bolts in the build plate housing, the max resin level indicator, the anti-stick FEP, and a rubber seal to improve the efficiency are some of the smart additions.
The Elegoo Mars 2 prints with stock settings, which means it is not easy to modify the 3D printing settings. But this also means that the Elegoo Mars 2 can provide a sufficiently fast output, especially compared to the likes of Ender Pro 2, which takes a lot of time to set up.
So, if you are working from a small space and do not want to cause too much of a nuisance while printing, the Elegoo Mars is a better choice.
- The finishing quality is better with a faster printing time.
- This 3D printer is built with a ChiTuBox, which gives an uncomplicated and smooth printing finish.
- The touchscreen is larger and intuitive enough to command the printing functions.
- The new fan assembly is there to assist the carbon filters, but the whining noise can become annoying after some time.
- The rubber seal won’t hold for more than 2-3 prints. After that, it slides off into the resin tank.
6. QIDI TECH X-Pro – Good for the Contemporary 3D Printing for Home Designing and Hobbyists
Starting with the assembling part, this 3D printer for miniatures requires minimal touches before you can use it. But we have to mention it; you will get a cool tool kit in the box and a colorful guide with detailed annotations.
So, assembling it won’t be a problem. Secondly, before using it, you need to calibrate the build plate, which is essential in most 3D printers.
However, QIDI provides you with a special piece of paper to measure the gap between the plate and the nozzle, to begin with.
Everything is given within the box, and you only have to follow the instructions. As for the printing, it can print with PLAs, ABS, and PETG materials. The enclosed chamber allows faster cooling with the help of a mounted ‘airblow turbofan.’ The build volume in this 3D printer is less compared to others in the same category.
Something that you will especially like here is the magnetic steel bed. It may look the same as the one in Creality’s model. But the steel bed in QIDI is much better as it is built with aviation-grade aluminum. The bed adhesion is also remarkable.
You will find that the dimensions wise the printed miniatures are perfect. However, there can be some flaws in the visual aspects, but that is only when you stress the printer. Otherwise, it is a great 3D printer for miniatures that is super easy to use.
The QIDI X-PRO addresses several user’s concerns with the printers you see on the list. Most of all, it provides a removable print bed and better connectivity options, for instance, WiFi. This means that the QIDI X-PRO is making 3D printing miniatures more accessible and convenient.
- Setting it up is a breeze, unlike the other printers of the same category.
- It offers WiFi support to print the objects directly without using a USB.
- The X, Y, and Z-axis hold firmly, and you won’t get any sloppiness on either axis.
- The filament holders aren’t built to hold other than the company-recommended spools.
- The resistive touch screen will require some weight to select the options.
So, we are done with reviewing the 3D printers for miniatures. Now to help you choose the one that will best suit your requirements, let’s check out the main features of 3D printers.
What To Look For In The Best 3D Printer For Miniatures?
It is natural to check everything before buying a new product. And if that product is a 3D printer for miniatures, you need to be extra careful especially in terms of quality. So, to ensure that you buy the right 3D printer, always look for these things in your ideal machine.
1. Build Volume
Build volume represents the extent of printing you want to do in a day. While professionals will want a printer that has a higher capacity, a hobbyist doesn’t need to spend the extra money on high-volume printing machines.
2. Nozzle Diameter
The nozzle diameter decides the amount of filament used and the time required. Higher nozzle diameters, the upside of 0.4 mm, will shoot more filament and take less time.
Nozzle diameter less than the optimal size of 0.4 mm, like 0.25 mm, provides the finest quality, but it takes more time. If you are undecided between them, go with the 0.4mm. And this is the market standard, too, so you won’t have to look specifically.
3. Layer Resolution
Like the nozzle diameter, finer layer resolutions (0.025 mm) will require more time, but the quality will also be better. On the contrary, the higher vertical resolution up to 0.6 mm will be thicker, lesser in quality, but will print faster.
There is a reason why we have discussed the assembling part of every 3D printer for miniatures on our list. Because the ease of assembling is crucial to consider before choosing a 3D printer.If you are unaware about what goes where or how to do it right, the printing quality will be affected. Secondly, using a 3D printer is also a separate task. Hence, consider both these aspects before buying.
Beginners shall not buy 3D printers that have a steep learning curve. Start with the easy-to-install and set-up printers like the Dremel Digilab 3D20.
5. Slicing Software
Almost every 3D printer-making company provides native software to slice the images for making them print-ready. As there will be compatibility issues, buy a 3D printer, which has its own software.
Secondly, ensure that you enquire about the convenience of using the software. Some firmware makes it hard to customize the image, which can result in bad printing quality.
6. FDM vs. SLA
FDM expands as Fused Deposition Modeling, and SLA is Stereolithography Printers. These are the types of materials required for printing the miniatures. The FDM comes in the form of a filament inserted into the nozzle head via a tube.
Do you remember the spools we have talked about above? Those were the filaments used for printing. The printer will heat these filaments, and the nozzle will shoot the concentrated ink to form the shape.
The SLA material is known to provide better print quality and accuracy of the design. With the help of laser or Digital Light Processing, the resin is hardened and supplied to the nozzle.
SLA printed objects show no cure layering, which means that you won’t notice the lines as in the FDM printed objects. In this, the AnyCubic 3D printer we have revived uses an MSLA print material. It is much faster, more refined, and better resin material than others.
However, printing with FDM is easier than SLA. Also, the SLA-printed objects are harder to remove from the build bed.
3D Printers for Miniatures FAQs
1. How Much Does it Cost to 3D Print a Miniature?
The typical cost comes around to $5, which accounts for everything required to print a miniature. The price can increase or decrease depending on the material you use.
2. What Materials Are Required in 3D Printing?
It depends on the objects you are printing. The two types we have discussed above (FDM and SLA) are the most popular for miniatures. Other than this, we have other plastic-based materials like polylactic acid (PLA), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polyvinyl alcohol plastic (PVA), etc.
Some more materials come from resins, metal, paper, carbon fiber, nitinol, and graphene.
3. What Is The Top 3D Printer Filament For Miniatures?
The topmost choice is clearly PLA. A great option for hobbyists and mid-level professionals, PLA is affordable, easy to handle, less messy, and has better flexibility.
4. How Do I Clean my 3D Printer for Miniatures?
Cleaning a 3D printer for miniatures is essential to get sustainable quality. You can start by cleaning the outer surface with a soft cloth. Then check the axis and linear guides and lubricate the linear rods and ball bearings.
Clean the nozzle thoroughly but with a soft hand. Regular cleaning will prevent clogging. The best way to clean is by heating it first and then using a brush to scrape off the residue ink.
Conclusion – What’s the Best 3D Printer for Miniatures?
At the end of our discussion on the best 3D printers for miniatures, AnyCubic Photon Mono stands as a clear winner. For one it is an affordable printer and uses the SLA material for printing, which gives an exquisite quality of the final object.
Among all the other printers that we have reviewed, the AnyCubic has better software, build quality, and mechanism to print the miniatures. It works well for beginners and professionals alike because there is no steep learning curve with this one.
Also, the AnyCubic 3D printer for miniatures uses MSLA resin for printing, which is not used by any other printer on our list. So in terms of usage, printing, maintenance, and operational capabilities, the AnyCubic is one of the best 3D printers for miniatures.