Tabletop games like Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons are more popular than ever.
Every day, new players are discovering the joy of using their imagination in gameplay.
Wargames and RPGs specifically give players lots of freedom to come up with their own creative solutions and game elements.
And what happens when you throw 3D printing into the mix?
That freedom gets supercharged.
Creative print of disappearing stealth fighters by /u/Beardilocks
Today with a 3D printer you can create entirely unique characters, armies and scenery; and have them look indistinguishable from factory-made ones.
It opens up infinite possibilities to expand on the game, and make it your own.
Below we take a look at the best 3D printers for miniatures in 2023, grouped by use cases.
Table of contents
Technical specs you will come across
This is the total amount of space you can use to print. Usually expressed as Length x Width x Height in milimetres or inches.
The level of detail you get out of the printer, expressed in micrometers. The smaller the number, the better. We only discuss XY resolution, because Z resolution (also known as layer height) is generally equally variable between printers.
Many companies list the “speed” or "top speed" of their printer in mm/hr, but this is misleading.
There is no standardised way that resin printing speed is measured, so any number given is arbitrary. There are too many factors that could affect the reported results.
MSLA printers of the same size generally print at the same speeds. Bigger ones are slower. Unless some special feature is listed to make the printer faster (eg. Nexa, UNIZ), you can assume that it prints like all the rest.
Don’t buy something just because of specs
Whether you love or hate your current phone, it is probably not because of how many GB RAM it has.
Ultimately, specs don’t matter as much as how you personally feel about a product.
All of the printers listed below use the latest tech for 2023, and print equally well.
If it gives you joy just to look at one of them, it is probably the best one to buy.
Studies consistently show that buying something based on your instincts leads to more happiness than endlessly comparing options. Do some research for sure, just don't overdo it.
Disclosure: There are NO affiliate links in this article. We sell 3D printers in the UK and EU, and we hope to bring more attention to our store by offering honest and accurate market information. The GKTwo is the only printer that we also carry in our store, so we are *probably* a little biased in its favour.
Are you looking for a low-budget option?
The Elegoo Mars 3 Pro is a really great and affordable resin printer for anyone that’s just starting out.
It is probably the cheapest printer you can buy today without feeling like you’re missing out in terms of quality or features.
At 35 micron resolution, you might still see some layer lines on your minis, but these can easily be masked with anti-aliasing and priming.
The build size is somewhat limited compared to the rest of the printers we will be discussing, but again, we are talking about an entry level printer here.
It comes with a carbon air filter, which will help you stave off both the smell and toxic fumes associated with printing. (We wrote about the importance of carbon filters here.)
It’s got tempered glass, so when you spill some resin, it will be easy to clean off, and your LCD screen will be protected.
"If you're considering the Mars 3 Pro for tabletop gaming, it pays for itself the moment you print your first army.” — Once in a Six Side
Others in this category
- ELEGOO Mars 3: You can save yourself about 50 quid by going with the non-pro version, which doesn’t include the air purifier or the protective glass. Still a great printer though.
- Anycubic M3: Anycubic and ELEGOO are virtually interchangeable as companies, and so are their products. This printer has a slightly bigger build volume, but slightly worse resolution. If you prefer yellow over red, this is the printer for you.
- Creality Halot series: Creality makes printers that are even cheaper, and can function just as well as ELEGOO or Anycubic. However many users report quality control issues which are somewhat understandable given how cheap these printers are.
Are you looking for the absolute highest detail?
Back in 2021, we were all incredulous at Phrozen’s promotional photos of a printer that could seemingly print with invisible print lines. People were calling them fake or photoshopped.
Now, almost two years later, we know that the Phrozen Sonic Mini 8K is real, and it is that good. But it is still somehow hard to believe.
Phrozen is known for foregoing fancy features in favour of making the basic stuff work well. This is definitely true for the Mini 8K. It is a trusty workhorse, with great build quality, and dual linear rails to make it even more stable.
"The surface quality of the Mini 8K is noticeably superior. It an insane resolution on XY compared to other printers." — Hobbyist Life
As the name suggests, the Mini 8K is much more limited in its build size than other printers. This will not be a problem to you if you only want to print miniatures, but might be annoying if you might also like to do larger things like terrain or scenery pieces.
People often say that the difference of ~10µm is barely visible with the naked eye. And while that is true, barely visible is not the same as invisible. If you are a perfectionist, this is the printer for you.
Others in this category
- Anycubic Ultra D2: The Mini 8K’s biggest contender is the Ultra D2, with a listed resolution of only 51 µm. While this sounds like a lot, the D2 uses a different type of light source, which makes it more precise, even if it’s “lower resolution.” The details from this printer look a bit softer, which might appeal to some users, and might put off others. We recommended the Mini 8K, due to its overall better build quality. Anycubic included a great light engine inside the D2, but that came with many other sacrifices to keep this printer affordable. You can read this review to learn more about those.
Do you want to print big stuff too?
Of course you do.
Well there’s nothing better on the market for that than the Phrozen Sonic Mega 8K.
The Mega 8K is not just the best printer for miniatures, it is the best large MSLA printer, period.
Phrozen foregoes any kind of fancy features in favour of a printer that just works well, and they definitely achieve that purpose.
Previous generations of large format printers often came with more frustrations than they were worth, especially for beginners. They promised ease of use, but in reality had a very steep learning curve, and frequent failures.
Phrozen’s Mega 8K finally delivers on that promise.
"I think this is an amazing printer. If you have the space, if you have the budget, if you want a larger printer, […] this is the printer for you. I would love to have an entire shop full of these machines. — Will Huff
Before you buy a Mega 8K for Warhammer or other minis, there’s a few things you should take into consideration.
The resolution on this beast is lower than on any of the other machines we listed. It is absolutely fantastic for larger prints, but for miniatures specifically, the visible print lines might be more of an eyesore.
Large resin printers are also much slower and more difficult to use than smaller ones. The Mega 8K is the best among its competitors, but is still lagging behind the smaller printers we mentioned. This is just the limitation of the technology if you want to go bigger.
And lastly, if you intend to print things like cosplay or functional objects, we’d recommend that you get an FDM printer instead. You can get a separate resin printer for your minis and an FDM for your functional prints, and it will work out better and cheaper than buying one Mega 8K.
But honestly, all of these are minor complaints on a machine that overtook a whole category since its release. If you go for this one, you will not go wrong.
Others in this category
- Peopoly Phenom Forge: With advanced features like multi-zone exposure and a temperature controlled vat, the Forge can be an interesting choice for advanced users, and resin printing nerds. If you are just looking to print some minis, stick with the Mega 8K though, as it has a better resolution, and much bigger community behind it.
- EPAX: EPAX specialises in big build sizes, very similar to Peopoly. Some of their printers actually identical, from the same factory. To be honest they have so many machines, which such confusing names, that we stopped keeping up with them, but if you are after a large format printer, they are worth checking out.
Are you looking for the best all-rounder?
The highest resolution means being limited to a small build size, and the largest build size means having to sacrifice in quality.
In 2022 a new breed of printers came out to address this very issue. They offer the biggest possible build volume while still maintaining a sub 30 µm resolution to keep layer lines virtually invisible.
We call these the "all-rounders", and the top of the line so far is the UniFormation GKTwo.
As the video shows, every part of this printer was redesigned for improved user experience.
And the centre point of that experience is the slogan “No More Failures”. Users of the GKTwo continually report that the printer just doesn’t fail, no matter what they throw at it. This in turn saves precious time and resin costs.
The GKTwo is also the first MSLA printer to include an adjustable, thermostatic heater. If you live in a cold climate like the UK, temperature control is absolutely necessary to stop your printer from randomly failing due to the weather. (We wrote about heating options here.)
"Right now, in my opinion, this is the best 3D printer in the consumer market that you can get.
It is an incredible innovation in the 3D printing space that all of the other manufacturers need to catch up to." — FauxHammer
The GKTwo is the only printer on this list we actually decided to sell, because we believe in it that much.
Having said that, it is not the best choice for everyone.
It is neither the biggest size nor the highest resolution available. It offers an excellent trade-off between the two, but might be too limited if you are looking for the top in either category.
It is also not the cheapest. However, if you intend to use your machine for years to come, you might find that the higher quality and reliability is worth the investment.
Others in this category
- Anycubic M3 Premium / ELEGOO Saturn 8K / Phrozen Sonic Mighty 8K: These printers are all very similar, so we’ll list them together. They offer roughly the same specs as the GKTwo, but without the special features we mentioned. This makes them more affordable, and if you can't afford the GKTwo, all of them are solid choices. However, we are listing “the best” printer in each category, and none of them offer much to compete with the GKTwo, beyond price.
What you shouldn’t get
FDM or filament printer
FDM printers are great for many things, but not for small, detailed minis. Unless you want all your warriors to look like the Michelin man, we’d recommend against it.
Old resin printer with RGB screen
While there’s nothing wrong with last year’s tech, make sure the printer you get has a monochrome screen.
There was a big change from RGB LCDs to monochrome LCDs around 2021 in resin printers. The monochrome screens are faster, stronger, last longer, and most resins today are made specifically for them.
Formlabs, Nexa or some other expensive kit
The machines and the resin from these companies cost 3-5 times more than hobbyist printers. But they are not 3-5 times better.
For miniatures specifically, they actually perform worse than most of the printers we listed above, either in resolution or speed.
Thank you for reading.
If you would like to learn more about the GKTwo, please click here.
If you are still not sure which printer would be best for you, you can always ask us.