A sculptor is someone who works with a malleable surface, like clay to produce a sculpture. Then, depending on the sculptor’s precision and experience, they can create unbelievably beautiful works of art.
As the sculptor works with their material, they visualize their design and bring it to life with every flick of their hand.
But what if you could buy a device that sculpts anything for you? There is such a device now, and it is called a 3D printer. Using a 3D printer to create miniatures is one of the most popular ways to use them.
No longer will you have to buy premade miniatures that fail to live up to your expectations. By using a 3D printer to create a miniature, you can customize its exact shape, details, size. A miniature enthusiast can get exactly the type of miniature they want without being charged extra fees by a miniature shop!
3D Printing and Miniatures
3D printers can create and design brand-new miniatures in a couple of hours, which is why so many enthusiasts have embraced these machines.
But will the 3D printer be able to print all the different minute details necessary to create realistic, high-quality miniatures? No one wants a miniature that has jagged edges, obvious lines, and weak structure.
If you had asked this question 10 years ago, we would have said to purchase higher-end expensive 3D printers so it would be able to handle all of the minute details that low-quality printers could not. But that was a long time ago.
Today, the cheapest 3D printers on the market can handle any detail in your miniature’s design. No matter how small or delicate the detail, any 3D printer can create unbelievably detailed miniatures in just a few hours with the right materials.
This is great news for anyone who wants to design miniatures but doesn’t have much money to invest. But before you head down to your nearest Best Buy or a 3D printing website, here are a few things you need to know about 3D printing miniatures.
What should I know about 3D printing miniatures?
If you are thinking of developing 3D printed miniatures, there are a few things you need to know to create amazing miniatures that will make Gary Gygax jealous.
Practice on small prints first before trying to design a complex miniature
A new 3D printer owner needs to work on their skills and get the hang of managing details and materials while adjusting the 3D designs. Luckily, thousands of tutorials and classes on the internet now help learners of all ages learn about 3D printing and 3D model creation.
Some 3D printers give users a hard time when adjusting the settings. When a bad miniature is created, the settings on the printer are not as rigid as they should be and the details on the final objects are not as pronounced and defined.
Meet with others who have experience creating miniatures so you can learn from them
When you create your very first miniatures, it is best to find a mentor or someone with experience creating miniatures and ask them for advice. If you have the time, you can reach out to tabletop game groups and ask if anyone in the group has experience making miniatures.
There are different grades of resins, but depending on what you buy, it can be quite affordable. So practicing with resin before you start creating high-quality resin miniatures is in anyone’s price range.
Watch out for layer lines
With certain 3D printers, the printer creates 3D designs by melting streams of a plastic or resin material and layering the strings on top of one another. This printing method creates extremely strong and durable miniatures, but it comes with a major setback: layer lines.
So how can a user prevent layer lines? There are two things a user can do. The first thing is to lower the height of the nozzle that produces the melted resin or plastic. The lowered height will keep the material warmer as it is less exposed to air as a false.
The second thing a user can do is use a higher grade filament. If you were shopping for a certain material or filament, check the reviews on that filament and see how other 3D printer users think about it.
When you are ready to create a miniature, use resin.
Resin is one of the highest-grade materials to use to make miniatures. Factories and specialty shops use it to create their products. So when you’re finally ready and confident enough to create beautiful miniatures, it’s time to upgrade the cheap material you’ve been practicing with and start using resin.
3D miniature printing tips
Here are some helpful 3D printing tips to ensure high quality and detailed objects:
- There are a few 3D printers that are better for printing miniatures than other printers. If you are in the market to buy a 3D printer to make miniatures, then look for a printer with fast printing speeds. It should also be easy to adjust printer settings.
- Printers with high building volume allow more material to be used before it must be replenished. If you are planning on printing a lot of miniatures, you won’t have to refill material over and over again.
- If you can, buy a 3D printer that uses different resins to print. Resin printers are regarded as the best type of printer to create miniatures. But it can be costly. Resin runs about $50 to $300 per liter, depending on quality.
- You may want to use different types of printing materials for different models. Some materials are best for creating miniatures with moving parts, and others are better for figurines and set pieces.
- Double and triple-check your design. Once a 3D printer uses its material to create a design, you can never get that material back. Make sure everything is correctly scaled. A character’s hand should not be bigger than its head, and the wheel of a race car should not be larger than its front window.
- Have another physical miniature for reference to ensure all of the details are right. This will help catch any errors or issues that would throw off the physical print.
If ten years can place 3D printing devices into the hands of 13-year-olds, who knows what the next ten to fifteen years will do to the world of 3D printing. So if you have been interested in 3D printing, now is a great time to embrace your curiosity. A standard $200 printer is just a click away! And there are hundreds of programs that will teach you all about 3D printing and creating 3D designs for free or for a very low price.