“Which printer should I buy” is a very common question these days for first-time printers. Depending on the printer’s needs (whether creating terrain or miniatures) Either an FDM or resin printer will be more appropriate.
Generally, when getting into 3D printing, we recommend picking up a machine for around $600 USD. This is enough to grab a reliable machine that will quickly earn back its buy-in cost.
For those looking to fill tables with terrain, or create buildings for model railways and dioramas, FDM printers are your best bet. You can get some fantastic printers for around $300 USD, but we recommend spending a bit more to get one with some of the following ease-of-use features:
- A 0.4mm extruder
- A build volume of 200mm x 200mm x 200mm
- A self-leveling print bed
- A magnetic or glass print bed
You can find our recommended settings for your FDM printer here. The printer will generally come with all the accessories to start printing, but we recommend also picking up a cheap heat gun or Brulé torch. This will be useful for heating and bending sections or cleaning up any wispy pieces of plastic post-printing.
Resin SLA Printers
Printing miniatures for D&D or your wargaming forces? Resin printers shine UV light into a liquid resin to create very high-detail prints. Recent advances have improved both the cost and accuracy of these printers, though we would recommend finding one with these minimum parameters:
- A 4K LCD screen
- Resolution of 35 microns (μm)
- 120mm x 50mm x 120mm build volume
- Compatibility with 3rd party resins
If you are looking to print larger batches of models or pieces of terrain, we recommend a larger printer with a 200mm x 120mm x 200mm build volume.
Due to many liquid resins being mildly toxic, we recommend picking up some neoprene gloves, eyeglasses, and a basic mask for when handling the pre-cured resin. After printing, rinse your models in a sealed container of isopropyl alcohol. This will remove any leftover wet resin that could mar the details. We recommend only doing this in a well-ventilated area.
Housing the Printer
Whether FDM or resin printing, we recommend keeping your printer in a cupboard, preferably with a vent (you may need to add a vent to the cupboard yourself). This will help minimize dust particles affecting the print, as well as keep fumes down during the printing process. This will also help keep any tools or accessories (like the alcohol bath for cleaning resin models) together in one place.