The Best 3D Printers for Miniatures
Updated July 2021
This is the second part of our Complete Beginners Guide series and you can read the first part here that covers the basics of printing tabletop miniatures, before going on to read our recommendations of the Best Printers for Miniatures.
Having established that the only choice for printing great quality miniatures is Resin Printers lets get to the nitty gritty and get you on your way to picking a great printer and printing out those armies.
The good news is that there is a great choice, from budget entry level, mid range to higher end printers and the cost may surprise you. Our top recommended budget friendly entry model which is more than capable of producing high quality 28mm scale miniatures comes in at under $230! With the advance to Mono Screens that are capable of faster print speeds there is no reason now to accept anything less when considering your first printer. For the budget entry level we consider the target prices to be under $230 with Mid Range from $250 to $500 and the high end under $1000.
Best Budget Printer - Under $230
At the time of updating this article The Elegoo Mars 2 can picked up for just under $200 with coupons or offers applied such is the pricing competition between manufacturers and the arrival of new models later in the year
Out of the box at under $200, the Elegoo Mars 2 is a fantastic printer and replaces the original Mars which in itself was a very accomplished machine. With the release of the Mars 2 the printer is equipped with a 6 inch monochrome LCD display resulting in unbelievable printing speeds, of 2-3 seconds per layer – compared to the previous Mars at 7-8 seconds per layer.
Thanks to the new larger 2K high resolution monochrome screen and light source the level of detail achievable on even the smallest miniature is stunning.
Additionally the larger screen provides a print area of 129 x 80 x 150mm which more than enough to print an entire set of minis in one go.
At the budget entry level there are increasingly more low-cost resin printers to be able to keep up with and that is not even taking seasonal discounts and promotions into account. However we have selected those printers that offer outstanding value for money below the $200 price point that are ideal for the beginner. It is true that it can be difficult to set one apart from the other on technical specifications alone. From our three recommendations here the Phrozen Sonic Mini is currently the cheapest of our three recommendations followed by the Creality LD-002H which following a price drop replaces the previously recommended LD-002R in this price point. However with discount applied an Elegoo Mars 2 at under $200 is just stunning value for money and remains our budget pick.
Best Mid Range Printer - $250 - $500
Now that Mono Screens are widespread and considered baseline this price point becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate printers from the budget entry level above, but we can recommend our top pick among the current crop as described below.
Safe and Durable Machine : ELEGOO Mars 2 Pro 3D printer has built-in activated carbon filter can absorb and eliminate odour, so there is no need to worry about resin odour during printing. Its CNC Machining aluminium alloy body makes it strong and durable. Even if used for a long time, it can still maintain high printing accuracy.
3840 x 2160 Ultra-high-definition With 4K resolution, Sonic Mini 4K prints out all your models at 35µm with 722 PPI, the highest PPI ever! 3D printing enthusiasts are empowered to print out extremely detailed miniatures and small tabletops with the highest precision level. Sonic Mini 4K is also the ideal choice for jewellery makers to create intricate jewellery pieces. Sonic Mini 4K gives a boost to all the creators out there.
5X Faster Resin 3D Printer, ANYCUBIC Photon Mono 3D Printer's printing speed is 2.5X faster than the regular 3d printers, rapid prototyping greatly improved printing efficiency and saved more time, comes with a 6.08'' 2K Monochrome LCD and only takes 1.5 seconds per layer exposure to cure resin, whose service life is 4 times that of RGB LCD screen, save material and costs
Best High End Printer - Under $1000
For miniature printers, in an already crowded market of budget friendly consumer resin printers there are only so many ways to stand out from the competition: resolution, print volume and speed. In early 2020 the time was ripe for manufacturers to bring forward a series of larger printers offering a mid size build area when previously the choice had been the budget offerings or much more expensive options not necessarily targeted at the home enthusiast. A such this new crop of mid size machines were eagerly anticipated. For a completely new miniature printer these machines are probably over kill, particularly if table top miniatures will be your main interest. However as you become familiar with the technology these machines open a new level of possibilities not just being able to print more models in one go, but larger pieces. So lets have a look at the current crop.
Elegoo were one of the first to hit the market with the eagerly anticipated Saturn and during early pre sale release these printers were snapped up in minutes such was the demand. Today stock can still be limited such is the popularity. While the printer shares a lot of commonalities with the Mars the screen of any printer is what we call the “business end” and the Saturn does not disappoint with a whopping 8.9″ 4K UHD Screen. Coupled with a print area of 192 x 120mm the Saturn is able to achieve an XY resolution of 50um for great printing detail. With the increase in build plate area Elegoo have introduced dual linear Z Axis rails to ensure print stability. Finally, the Saturn is the first of the printers in this round up to include an Ethernet port on the back of the printer as well as the traditional USB port for transferring your files to the printer.
Sonic Mighty 4K provides a 9.3” printing area that empowers makers to print bigger and larger quantities in a single batch. Phrozen Sonic Mighty 4K comes with a 22 cm Z-axis and dual-linear rails, allowing creators to produce tall and spectacular tabletops, such as gigantic dragons or large ogres.
So from Phrozen who introduced the first Mono Screen with the Sonic Mini, followed quickly by the first 4k screen on the Sonic Mini 4k, comes the Sonic Mighty. It is mighty, with Phrozen managing to cram in a massive 4k 9.3 inch mono screen giving a huge print volume of 200 x 125 x 220 mm. Similar to the other printers in this category the Phrozen Sonic Mighty uses a dual linear rail for additional print stability. We are disappointed that on the Mighty Phrozen have remained with the somewhat tiny 2.8″ touch screen display and for this printer USB file transfer remains your only option as no Ethernet is included.
Hot on the heels of the Elegoo Saturn, Anycubic joined the party in late 2020 with the comparably spec’d Photon Mono x equipped with a 8.9″ 4k mono screen with an identical print area of 192 x 120 mm resulting in a 50um print capability. One thing that AnyCubic seem to do differently is Z height and on the Mono X this is no different, offering a Z Height of 245mm. Therefore the Mono X has the larger build volume compared to the Saturn. For these larger machines we would expect noting less than the dual linear rail set up. As found on the Photon Mono this printer is fitted with the same WIFI antenna which in the first instance can be fiddly to set up and only offers the ability to connect to the printer via AnyCubic’s monitoring app. This App while being a nice idea really only serves as a means to monitor, pause or change print settings and would have been far more useful if it provided a way to connect to the printer to upload print files direct from your slicer.
High quality z axis and lead screw. Durable Polycarbonate hood. High quality brand USB stick. Molded vats and build plates making extra vats and build plates very well affordable. Latest parallel light source structure provides more even UV light emission, leading to very high printing details and precision. Very good print dimensional accuracy.
As stated before EPAX have a strong reputation for high end Resin printers and their entry into the budget consumer market has been very well received. The EPAX E10 is no different and while on the face of it, the printer equipped with a 8.9″ 4k screen with a build area of 192 x 120 mm seems very comparable to the Saturn it is EPAXs approach with this machine that makes it a little special. From this base machine EPAX will offer an upgrade kit allowing you to replace the screen with a 10.1″ 5K UHD screen together with a larger build plate with an area of 216 x 135mm resulting in a print resolution of 45um, so bigger better detailed prints for the cost of an upgrade. It is true that the EPAX pricing sits at the top end of this group but with this modular upgrade approach you are given the opportunity to further increase your printing capabilities for a few hundred dollars rather than shelling out for a new machine. This is a novel approach taken by EPAX and one that I hope is taken by other manufacturers.
At the time of writing there is no better time to enter the world of table top miniature printing with a great selection of capable machines to choose from. For the most budget conscious the Phrozen Sonic Mini is the most wallet friendly option to consider followed closely by the Elegoo Mars 2.
For the mid range the EPAX E6 is a great choice, however these can be difficult to source outside of the US and therefore for non US the AnyCubic Photon Mono SE would be a great alternative.
Finally if you are wanting something a little bigger than what the most budget friendly printers can offer we are very excited about the EPAX E10 in particular for the upgradability options the printer offers in the future. For non US it has to be the Elegoo Saturn, the pioneer in this current crop of Mid Size Printers for miniatures.
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