What does it cost to get started?
Fantastic 3D Printers now start at $200-210. We have an entire category of STL files to choose from! If you're not sure where to start in that category, we suggest the 3D Printer Sample Pack Bundle, a mixture of titles from some of our top publishers! With this bundle and your printer, you can get started in the world of 3D Printing for less than $300!
How does a 3D printer work?
Home 3D printers fall into two categories, plastic filament and resin. We recommend starting with a plastic filament type printer (also referred to as FDM or Fused Deposition Modeling). This type of printer uses a spool of plastic filament to make models by feeding the filament into a heated nozzle, melting it, and extruding it on a build plate in successive layers to build up an object. The thinner the layer height you select for printing your model will result in much finer details and resolution, but thinner layers mean you must print more layers in total, thus resulting in a longer print time. The filament itself is very inexpensive (a 1kg roll for $20 will make 40-50 dungeon tiles).
How hard is it to operate a printer?
As with most things, there is a learning curve to 3D printing. We recommend starting with this test model once you get your printer up and running for the first day or two to get used to how it operates before attempting to print dungeon terrain or miniatures. Once you have successfully sliced and printed this cube a few times, we recommend trying out this DriveThruRPG 3D Printing Starter Bundle to learn printing terrain and miniatures.
Are 3D printers difficult to maintain?
Not really (at least not the ones we have listed.) They aren’t totally plug-n-play, but the maintenance is really simple. Most maintenance takes the form of tightening screws and occasionally lubricating the rods that the print head runs on, and periodic cleaning of the unit and making sure the belts are tight. If you can work a screwdriver you’ll be fine.
How long does it take to print a model?
Time depends on the resolution you are printing at. As an example, on our Bambu Lab A1 Mini, we can print a standard 28mm skeleton miniature in about 80 minutes, and a dungeon wall in 1.5 hours.
What does the term ‘micron’ mean when listed for a printer’s resolution?
A micron is 1/1000 of a mm, so a printer than can print 100 micron layers is printing layers that are 1/10th of a millimeter high (.1mm). A machine printing at 200 micron resolution would have layers that are 2/10ths of a millimeter high (.2mm), thus the smaller the resolution number, the finer the print quality. A 50 micron print will look much better than a 200 micron print, but the 200 micron print will print much faster than the 50.
How much does it cost to print a model?
A 28mm humanoid miniature will run 7-12 cents, and a standard dungeon tile about 38-45 cents, depending on the price of the filament you use.
What is the difference between PLA and ABS filament?
PLA is what we use for all of our printing, it is a bioplastic derived from corn starch or sugarcane, and is biodegradable. It is harder and slightly more brittle than ABS, and can be printed at lower temperatures, so it holds fine details much better. ABS requires a printer with a heated print bed, and it gives off very bad fumes when heated for the print process due to some toxic chemicals used in it. We really cannot recommend using it at all, especially in a home environment.
Does a printer take a lot of electricity to use?
Not really, studies we have found online put it at less than having two 60watt incandescent light bulb turned on.
What brand of filament should I use?
We recommend Hatchbox or Overture PLA, as they are easy to work with and produces excellent results. Cheaper filaments can induce clogs and be more difficult to use.
What printer should I buy?
There are many great printers out there. The absolute best beginner printer (and even for seasoned pros) is the Bambu Lab A1 Mini. The base printer is only $299 and will print gorgeous terrain and miniatures (minis require an additional $12 .2mm nozzle for best details). Please note that you do not need the more expensive version with a multi- color filament feeder as this really isn’t applicable to printing terrain and minis.
Bambu Lab A1 Mini: https://bambulab.com/en/a1-mini
Probably the second best all-around starter printer is the Ender-3 V3 SE. This printer comes mostly assembled from the factory (it arrives as two separate main pieces that can be assembled in a few minutes). It features auto-bed leveling and Z-offset which makes learning to use the printer much easier for beginners. The retail price is around $210.
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D18L9K6
Assembly video for the Ender-3 V3 SE:
What print settings should I use?
Most good model publishers will include recommended print settings for their models, and for the two Creality printers listed above there are free printer profiles available on DrivethruRPG here: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/372964/FDG-Custom-Cura-Profile-for-Creality-Printers