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How much does it cost to print a mini with a 3D printer?

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
There’s lots of 3D printer model files available. Has the cost per model come down enough to make it practical yet? How much are we talking, assuming you already invested in the printer (which I haven't but that’s another topic!)

Regular printer ink costs more than printers. Is that the same for 3D printers?
 
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Retreater

Legend
I don't know, but I'm guessing a factor would be if you're using filament or resin, the size of the minis you plan to print, etc.
My research has told me it's not practical "for me" yet, not only because of cost, but also because of time to learn, potentially toxic fumes, long times to print, numerous reliability issues, and overall poor quality compared to professionally made models.
YouTubers I trust indicate the cost is higher to self print than to buy from companies (even GW).
 


lhx

Explorer
I have a prusa mk3. A medium sized 5e mini is like $0.50 but is not the quality of a metal mini from say reaper. But still totally usually for the table.
There are resin printers that have a lot more detail but the resin is more expensive.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
I would go resin. You're gonna get much higher quality minis, but the learning curve is higher. Calibrating your printer is harder, and you really want to ensure your supports are adequate.

An anycubic printer is fairly cheap nowadays for the small version, only about $250 or so, and they put out really good quality. Cost per mini last I checked for resin costs is about $0.65 a mini.
 

giant.robot

Explorer
Printing minis assumes you have the time/ability to make the 3D models besides the actual printing. Even if you download models someone else made you still need to model in some support structures so they don't fall apart during printing. To me this time component is the most expensive part. I haven't seen any downloadable minis that are ready-to-print.
 

shesheyan

Explorer
Two things:
  • 3D Printers are slow
  • The smell/fumes of the heated plastic is toxic make sure you have a well ventilated work place.
 
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pogre

Hero
There’s lots of 3D printer model files available. Has the cost per model come down enough to make it practical yet? How much are we talking, assuming you already invested in the printer (which I haven't but that’s another topic!)

Regular printer ink costs more than printers. Is that the same for 3D printers?
I do mostly 3D printing for terrain. I have printed the occasional figure. However, resin printers are far superior for miniatures generally.

Not counting time and frustration, figures are cheap in materials cost. A standard 28 mm figure is going to run about 40-80 cents in resin and less in PLA.

Here is a chaos giant I printed and one of my sons painted:
giant.jpeg


However, 3D printing is definitely a hobby in itself - plug and play does not exist yet. It is also time consuming. The figure above (about 8 inches tall) is multi-part and took about 22 hours to print total. Good news is that the giant is about $2.25 worth of PLA.
 

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