Are 3D printed miniatures for wargaming any good?

3D printing technology has made great strides over the last few years.
Especially SLA and MSLA printing have made leaps and bounds.
These printers use UV screens to cure PhotoPolymer Resin and they are perfect for printing wargames miniatures. Resins are also getting a lot better at ....
Are 3D Printed miniatures any good for wargaming?

But 3D printed minis are ugly right!!?

5 years ago, maybe!?
3D printing technology has made great strides over the last few years.
Especially SLA and MSLA printing have made leaps and bounds.
These printers use UV screens to cure PhotoPolymer Resin and they are perfect for printing wargames miniatures.


Barely noticeable Layer Lines

D&D players will argue that you can print pretty decent miniatures on FDM.
But we all know Wargamers are a different breed. We need things to be perfect.
The thought of 0,08mm thick layer lines makes us cringe beyond a casual gamer's comprehension. 0.08 might perfect for some wrecked terrain. But for a tiny mini, packed full of detail? We expect more.

What would our washes do? How can we even dry-brush without those horrid lines ruining the paint job?

We don't just slap on some apple-barrel craft paints and call it a day. 
We take pride in the way we convert, meticulously paint and field our troops.
A miniature needs to be close to immaculate before we even consider to label it as "pretty decent". 

Luckily Resin Printer brands stepped their game up, and now you can print models that are so sleek, you can barely see that they're not injection-molded.

3D printed miniatures for wargaming benefit from the high precision prints these resin printers can produce. Most wargamers want to adorn their minis with sleek paint jobs. And that's impossible if you see thick layer lines all over your model.

The step-drivers and 4k uv mono screens in modern 3d printers can create layers as thin as 0.01mm. 
And even the cheaper 2k SLA Home 3D printers of yesteryear can easily crank out thin layer lines of 0.025mm. Making your 3D printed Miniatures a Joy to paint.
 

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Resins are getting better!

Not every resin is suited for wargaming.
Wargaming minis are handled way more than an RPG, Display, or than Diorama miniatures.They are constantly grabbed, moved, dropped, packed, transported, and tossed around all the time.

Most PhotoPolymer Resins that hold detail extremely well are brittle and weak.
That might be wonderful for minis in games that predominantly take place in the theatre of the mind. Miniatures that are used in tabletop wargames need to be resilient. 

Resin printing is becoming more and more popular with wargamers by the month.
And 405nm Resin brands are seeing a demand for tough and flexible resins grow.
But over the last couple of years, you also see plenty of reviews of wargamers complaining that the flexible resins don't hold detail that well.

A couple of brands have really paid mind to the wargaming community. They stepped up, and fine tuned their resins to meet the demand of wargamers that enjoy both highly detailed models and intense gaming sessions. 

Elegoo, Siraya Tech, and Weistek (to name but a few) are cranking out tough and flexible high definition Resins now.

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Aren't 3D printers really expensive?

It's true that there are machines out there that cost north of $50,000.
But those are for industry professionals. Like Manufacturers, Dentists and Architects.  If you are a wargamer, you can easily print perfect minis on machines costing less than $500.

At the time of writing:
An Elegoo Mars can be had for less than $210
A Phrozen Sonic Mini is yours for under $320
An Epax X1 can be sat on your desk for $460

All of these printers are ace.

And if you are more into gaming than painting, an Anycubic Photon starts at $180.

A decent size army will easily cost you over $1200 if you buy injection-molded kits from the store. A $500 printer and two $50 bottles of resin really looks sensible now, doesn't it!?

And let's be fair. A true wargamer never stops at just one Army!
You can print entire armies with 2 liters of Resin. 

And if you are into converting models. Oh boy!
Bits sites can charge upwards of Gbp 3.5 for a single pair of legs, or for a single weapon option. If you have a 3D resin printer, you can print your bits yourselves, and save hundreds of pounds modding your army.
 

Are 3D printed miniatures for wargaming any good?

The general answer is a resounding "YES!"
But to be completely honest. It all depends on your printer and resin of choice. On the settings you add to your slicer. On the way you choose to support your files. And on the effort you put into cleaning your prints.

Many people say that 3D printing is a hobby on its own. And I am sure it can be.
But all crafting takes a little insight and effort. 3D printing is no different.
Buying an injection-molded kit also comes with challenges, removing mold lines, sprue clean up, converting and positioning.... Everything has a learning curve.
 

3D printers and Resins are becoming better suited for wargaming purposes by the day. Miniature designs by indie companies are getting sweeter and sweeter.
It's a consumer's market really. The options are plentiful and the results can be stunning! 

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