When I first started 3D printing for wargaming in early 2018 there was very little information, especially regarding cheaper printers. Since then, a variety of facebook groups have popped up that offer a wealth of information on the matter, and with more quality, low priced printers coming onto the market. When I began, my goal was a cheap, plug and play printer with a good support network, and minimal amount of fuss. Back in February 2018, that printer was the Monoprice Maker Select V2, which is still my primary FDM printer. That said, if I was shopping for a printer today, I’d probably go for something else based on price and user feedback.
So, we did a short survey on the Wargaming3D facebook group, to get an idea of what printers people were actually using to print models for miniature wargaming. We weren’t interested in anything else, just wargaming. I expected it to be mostly FDM printers, due to the lack of small high detail infantry figures in the historical scene, but it seems in the last year that resin printing has significantly increased in popularity, mainly due to the low price and accessibility of the anycubic photon. So here are the top 10 printers being used by members of the Wargaming3D facebook group:
Top 10 3D Printers for Miniature Wargamers
The surprise winner being my personal favorite printer on the market for value for money, results and a quality user group is the Anycubic Photon. These little machines retail for under $300 (possibly because they might get replaced by their big brother the Photon S sooner or later) and allow you to print commercial quality miniatures (and even vehicles if they files have been split and hollowed) that rival anything you can purchase in a store. These are extremely popular amongst fantasy and sci fi wargamers, and as the availability of historical infantry models increases, I expect them to become the standard printer used by wargamers when not printing terrain.
- Super high detail prints
- Fast for printing multiple models
- Resin prices are decreasing fast
- 115x65x155mm build volume
Very popular with sci-fi and fantasy miniature printers, and popularized due to support on the 3D printed Tabletop site (Grab their cura profiles here) and youtube channel, you really can’t go wrong with a Creality Ender 3.
- Resume print function after power outage
- Requires some assembly, but not a complete kit (takes around 2 hours)
- Good power supply, and heated bed.
If you can afford it, this is the one to get for FDM printing, and essentially what all the other FDM printers listen in this article are loosely based upon. Winner of “Best 3D printer” from numerous sites such as All3DP.com and Make Magazine this is what I’d purchase if I had more money (which I don’t).
- Removable heated bed
- Stable aluminium extruded frame
- Quiet stepper drivers
- Can fully recover from power loss
- Motherboard can prevent layer shifts
Another printer made popular by the guys over at 3D printed Tabletop (once again you can find great Cura profiles over there), the CR-10 is something I’d consider personally (along with the Ender 3) if I wanted a replacement or an additional printer alongside my Maker Select V2.
- Open source firmware and design plans make this an easily modifiable printer
- Big, with a 12 x 12 x 15.5 bed
- Glass bed comes stock, which is one less upgrade you need to worry about
I’m a little hesitant to recommend this, as the only two people I know personally/locally who have one of these have had nothing but problems, that said, it seems to be reasonably popular in the group, but still not even close to the photon. Given the choice, I’d personally choose a photon, but it’s here, because, well, people have them!
- Up to 35 Micron Print Resolution
- Use any resin with 405nm wavelength
- 120x70x200mm build volume
- Uses Chitubox sliver
- Quick set up, you should be able to print within 5 min of getting out of box.
- 2560×1440 2K HD masking LCD as to provide accurate printing with XY axis resolution of 0.00185inches / 0.047mm
My personal FDM printer, and still a good machine – I expect these to slip in popularity as there are better FDM printers out on the marketplace. Still good if you can pick one up cheaply, but you’ll need to add a mosfet to it straight away and replace some parts such as the cheap y carriage with something better like this one from Gulfcoast Robitics and add a glass bed to get decent prints out of them.
- Fully Assembled
- 8″x8″x7″ Build Volume
- Compatible with Ultimaker Cura
- Decent support group on facebook
Another one that if I had the budget I’d love to try it out, but at 5x the price of an Anycubic Photon, you can guess what I’d rather do!
- Interactive calibration wizard for quick and easy calibration
- Quick-release printing platform
- Motorized tilting bed – prevents layer shifts, stirs the resin, enables faster printing
- Resin tank with flexible FEP film (non-proprietary) – easy and cheap replacement
- Silent operation thanks to Trinamic drivers with auto-homing function
- Advanced LCD cooling system improves performance and extends the life of internal components
- Safety features: Resin level sensor, safety vat under the tilt mechanism to stop resin spillage, check printer status via internet browser, airfilter
- Smart features and connectivity: LCD touchscreen, USB, Wi-fi, LAN, online monitoring via a web browser, Slic3r PE software
9 – Anet A8 (FDM)
- High compatibility: supporting XYZ printing bio-degradabl and multiple filaments like ABS/ PLA/ HIP/ PRTG/ TPU/ Wood/ Nylon/ PP etc.
- Hotbed: 220 x 220mm ( 8.6″ x 8.6″ square) Large-size aluminum printing platform. Aluminum plate can bear higher temperature. Reduce curl edge rate.
- Mainboard: Highly integrated one board, to solve the Ramps1.4 modular interface cumbersome, easy to trouble the problem. Large USB, more stable connection, the interface is more concise, wiring more convenient, more stable work, longer life. The use of high-performance low resistance through the Mos tube to do the drive, cooling better.
- 2004 LCD display: Large size screen, clear white characters with blue backlit, more information showing easy control.
- Frame Material: Acrylic + Lead Screw
- Hotbed Material: Aluminum Alloy
10 – Ender 5 (FDM)
- High-Precision Printing Quality: Equipped with dual Y axis motors and down-shift Z axis, moving more smoothly, fewer points of failure and fewer headaches.
- Brand Power Supply: Built-in brand power supply, heat up the hot bed to 110℃ in 5 minutes.
- Resume Printing Function: The printer is shielded by its power supply from voltage spikes and power outages. If electrical power is lost, prints can be resumed from the last layer, saving time and reducing waste.
- Semi-Assembled Kits: Ender 5 comes with several partially assembled kits, very easy to assemble and allow you to learn about the basic construction of 3D printer.
- What You Get: Ender 5 3D printer, 1-year limited warranty, lifetime technical assistance and 24 hours professional customer service.
All these printers were also used by members, but didn’t break into the top 10:
- Ultimaker 2+ (FDM)
- Formlabs Form 2 (Resin)
- Folgertech FT5 (FDM)
- Anycubic Predator (FDM)
- Flashforge Dreamer (FDM)
- Creality CR20 Pro (FDM)
- Tronxy 802MA (FDM)
- UP Mini (Resin)
- Sprintray (Resin)
- UP Plus 2 (FDM)
- LotusEZ (Resin)
- Proforge2 (FDM)
- Tevo Tornado (FDM)
- Tevo Nereus (FDM)
- Tevo Tarantula Pro (FDM)
All an all I find it some really interesting results, with 40% of the most popular printers being used by Wargamers in the Wargaming3D group being resin printers which surprised me a lot. I wonder how many of them read our idiots guide to resin printing and purchased an Anycubic Photon as a result?