This is the second part of the series for purchasing a new 3D printer. If you missed the first part, go here. This is the list of common printers with my impressions and opinions on the different printers out there.
For the Wargame enthusiast, there are a number of great printers on the market. Depending on how you answered the questions above, there is probably a printer that is right for you. I’ll list the Terrain printers first, by price, from lowest to highest, and put some tags following them with other details to help answer your 5 questions. Please not this is NOT an exhaustive list, and I will provide affiliate links to stores if you happen to choose a printer to buy. These help support the site, but in no way cost you more money.
There are further notes at the end of this article, but it was written because this is the #1 question I see coming from people interested in getting into 3D Terrain Printing. Here is a list of printers that you should look at, based on your specific needs. Once you narrow it down to a couple of printers, look online (Reddit, Facebook, Thingiverse) at the communities that support these printers. That is 100% the reason that I went with the Tevo Tarantula over the Anet as my first printer.
Cheat Sheet – The Primary Questions:
- What is the use? [Miniatures, Terrain]
- What is my budget? [Low (Below $400), Medium ($400 – $600), High ($600+)]
- What is my technical skill? (If it is low, choose a pre-built) [Low, Competent, High]
- What build size do I need? [Small (120×120), Medium (200×200), Large (300×300), Huge (400×400 +)
- What Technology is used? [FDM, DLP, SLA]
Cartesian Style Printers
(Please note, I mention the printer, where you can purchase it, a quick breakdown of what kind of printer it is, based on the questions above, my thoughts on the printer, and then links to reputable community resources to get a 2nd or even 3rd opinion)
- Monoprice Select Mini (Amazon) / Creality3D CR-7 (Gearbest) / Cocoon (Cocoon – AU) / Tevo Michelangelo (AliExpress)) [1:Terrain, 2:Low, 3:Low, 4:Low, 5: FDM] : These style of printers are pre-built, small build volume, but inexpensive printers. A lot of people have good things to say about these printers. This printers are all based on a similar cantilever principle. (JAT.MN, Makers Muse, Tevo Michelangelo Preview)
- Creality Ender 3 ( Amazon | AliExpress | Ebay | Gearbest ) [1:Terrain/Miniatures, 2:Low, 3:Low, 4:Medium+, 5: FDM]: This is my suggestion for the bargain basement printer. If you are new, and need an inexpensive 3D Printer, buy this one. This is a new printer, and has been taking the 3D Printer market by storm. This printer usually is just a bit over $200 and features a 220 X 220 X 250mm bed. There are people getting some spectacular results, including miniatures that look great. If you are looking for a very low cost, entry level 3D Printer, this is probably your best choice right now. Because of their low price, and great performance, I have noticed that stores are having a hard time keeping them in stock. Here is my review of the Ender-3.
- Tevo Tarantula (AliExpress – Official Store | Gearbest | Amazon) (Note: Amazon link is not cheapest) [1:Terrain, 2:Low, 3:Competent, 4:Medium+, 5: FDM] : This is the first 3D Printer I owned. I put together a guide on the printer that goes through what it takes to buy, build, upgrade, etc this printer… though, many of the links work for any i3 style printer. These printers use acrylic which works, but is not optimal. You can print most of the upgrades needed, or purchase aluminum or carbon fiber ones. This printer has a great basis to start from, giving you the ability to take a fairly mediocre printer into a very high quality printer. For the first 9 months of this site, everything was printed on the Tarantula. I think this is a decent printer and there is a very large community to help with problems and upgrades. Being able to upgrade to a 280mm bed is its biggest differentiator. But, that does require a number of upgrades. Honestly, unless you love to tinker, the Ender 3 is a better 3D Printer at this price point and bed size.
- Anycubic Mega i3 (Amazon | Gearbest | AliExpress Official Store) [1:Terrain, 2:Low, 3:Low, 4:Medium, 5: FDM] : These printers are a littler nicer in my view. They have an integrated filament run-out sensor and can recover from a power outage. This printer looks like a solid printer with a decent bed. It is not as cheap as the printers above, but it is still not too expensive. This is a printer that should be anyone’s list. (3D Maker Noob, CHEP 3D Printing) I talk more about Anycubic Printers here.
- Alfawise U20 (Gearbest Exclusive) [1:Terrain, 2:Low, 3:Low, 4:Large, 5: FDM] : This printer is a large format printer like others in this bracket. The 300 x 300 x 400mm bed gives you a lot of options. Out of all the 3D Printers I have tested, this one had the best print quality, out of the box. It’s also the loudest (the cooling fan that gives it such good prints, also makes it loud). This is a low-cost clone of the CR10, that has some added features that shows Gearbest learned from their competition. The touch screen is great to use. The bed is a great size. It also comes with a nice bed material that works well for 3D Printing. Here is my review of the Alfawise U20 3D Printer.
- JGAurora A5 (AliExpress | Gearbest | Amazon) [1:Terrain, 2:Low/Medium, 3:Low, 4:Large, 5: FDM] : This is a large format printer, from JGAurora. It’s not quite as large as the offerings from Tevo or Creality vertically. It still has a large print volume. It has a touch screen interface that takes a little getting used to if you are used to standard Marlin 3D Printers. It offers auto-filament loading and unloading, power recovery, and a filament run out sensor. I’ve only done a JGAurora A5 preview so far, but my initial view is that it is a terrific printer. I can’t wait to really put it through it s paces and get a profile set up for it.
- Creality 3D CR-10s ( AliExpress – Official Store | Gearbest | Banggood | Amazon) [1:Terrain, 2:Low/Medium, 3:Low, 4:Large, 5: FDM] : The CR-10s is the latest refinement to the CR-10. It includes updates such as dual Z, more memory, filament run out sensor (that may work…), and power off recovery. The CR-10s has a 300x300x400 mm build volume giving you a huge range of what you can build. Out of the box, this thing just prints really well. (My Review)
- Tevo Tornado (AliExpress – Official Store | Gearbest | Amazon) [1:Terrain, 2:Low/Medium, 3:Low, 4:Large, 5: FDM] : This is a newer printer from Tevo. It is designed as a CR-10 killer. It really has been a success in this. It has a large bed allowing for larger prints. It has some features that set it above the CR-10 and seems like a great printer especially for the price point. I’ve also put together a guide on the Tevo Tornado. (Rui Raptor, 3D Maker Noob, Rui Raptor – Cost to Run, Makerfun 3D Tevo Tornado Preview).
- Creality 3D CR-10 (AliExpress – Official Store | Gearbest | Banggood | Amazon) [1:Terrain, 2:Low/Medium, 3:Low, 4:Large, 5: FDM] : The CR-10 came onto the scene earlier this year. They are a larger bed printer (300×300) and there are even much larger beds than 300×300 if you need up to a 500×500 mm bed (at a higher cost). You can purchase the standard version, or the upgraded version that has a dual Z screw. The advantage of the CR-10 is the active community that helps support it, and out of the box it is a good printer. (JAT.MN, 3D Printing Nerd)
- Monoprice Maker Select Ultimate (Amazon) [1:Terrain, 2:Medium, 3:Low, 4:Medium, 5: FDM] : This is another one of those printers that is solid out of box. This one can be easily closed off to print ABS if that is an issue for you. You can get some ideas on how well it will print by looking at the Amazon reviews. This one I have heard good from, but not one I hear a lot about.
- East 3D Gecko (AliExpress – Official Store | UK Customers) [1:Terrain, 2:High, 3:High, 4:Large, 5: FDM] : This is my latest printer. It is a Core XY style printer. It is a very rigid machine and very interesting. I do recommend this with some reservations. The printer is still receiving a few updates from the manufacturer. As some issues have come up, East 3D has been upgrading this printer. The next upgrade I think will fix the majority of the issues. East 3D and others are very active on the Facebook group asking questions and coming up with some updates. There are videos showing super high speed printing by maker as well. Having an active group with very active and dedicated management means a lot to me. I like the printer as it is, but with the new updates coming soon, I think this will be a tough printer to beat at the price point. It is a kit though, and requires some skills to build. My preview and Printer information posts.
- Prusa i3 Mk3 (Prusa) [1:Terrain, 2:High, 3:Competent/Low, 4:Medium+, 5: FDM] : This is one of the most popular and probably most refined i3 printers on the market. The Mk3 has just been announced and features a number of user friendly and recovery features that other consumer printers do not possess. If you can afford it, this is probably the printer you want to pick up. It has a very large community to help support it, and most of the i3 printers are clones this printer. If you want a pre-built printer, they offer those as well, at a higher price than the kit printer. (Thomas Sanladerer, 3D Printing Nerd)
- FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro (Amazon) [1:Terrain, 2:High, 3:Low, 4:Small+, 5: FDM] : This printer is fully enclosed allowing the printing of ABS easily. The build volume is not quite Medium, but is definately larger than most small print volumes. This printer gets great reviews and I have heard many people comment on their quality. (3D Printing Nerd)
- Anycubic Chiron (Amazon) [1:Terrain, 2:Medium, 3:Low, 4:HUGE, 5: FDM] : This is the largest 3D Printer I own. At 400 x 400 x 400mm this thing is just gigantic. I have done a few prints that took close to 3 days, and a full bulid volume would take overa week. While it is still an “inexpensive” 3D Printer, this one has higher quality parts than most 3D Printers I own and has a lot of finishing touches that make it a very solid 3D Printer. It also has some replacement parts for those pieces that can wear out like the hot end and rollers. Here is my live build and preview.
Delta Style Printers – More Advanced
- Anycubic Kossel Delta (Amazon | AliExpress Official Store| Gearbest) [1:Terrain, 2:Low, 3:Competent, 4:Small, 5: FDM] : This is a printer I have heard some good about. For the price, it sounds like a terrific value. This is a Delta printer, allowing you to print at a faster rate than cartesian printers. It is a little on the smaller side so that is something to keep in mind on the circular build plate. These are especially good for more circular based prints. This is my Go-to 3D Printer. As most people know, Cura and S3D lie about print times on cartesian printers. On this Delta, they are normally very close to right. (Check out my review) I talk more about Anycubic Printers here.
- FLSUN Linear Guide Version 3D Printer (Amazon | AliExpress | Gearbest) [1:Terrain, 2:Low, 3:Competent, 4:Small/Medium, 5: FDM] : Here is another Delta that I see people talk about regularly. You can look at the reviews on Amazon. I recommend the Linear Rail version, and has a good sized print bed for a Delta printer. This is a little older, and I think I would personally go for the Anycubic Kossel printer over this one.
- Tevo Little Monster (AliExpress – Official Store | Amazon) [1:Terrain, 2:High, 3:Competent, 4:Large, 5: FDM] : If you are looking for a Delta style printer, this is probably the best bet. It is an expensive printer but is large for a Delta. This printer has received some good reviews online, and people seem impressed by its capabilities. (3d Maker Noob)
Resin Based Printers – SLA / DLP – Advanced Printing
- Anycubic Photon ( Amazon | AliExpress | Ebay ) [1:Miniatures, 2:Medium, 3:Competent, 4:Small, 5: DLP] This is the latest printer from Anycubic and is also a DLP. This is likely going to be very comparable to the Tevo Firefly, being a copy of the popular Wanhao Duplicator 7 and comes with a screen interface. I talk more about Anycubic Printers here. So far, this is a TOUGH 3D printer to beat in the resin market. It is precise, has a great community and is very affordable. Right now, this is my choice for 3D Resin Printer. And holy cow, it produces amazing 3D Prints. Here is my review of the Anycubic Photon.
- Micromake L2 (AliExpress – Official Store) [1:Miniatures, 2:Medium, 3:Competent, 4:Small, 5: DLP] : This is a slightly smaller resin printer. I’ve started compiling information about the Micromake L2. I’ve been reading some very positive reviews and it seems like a solid DLP printer.
- FLSUN – S Complete (Gearbest Store) [1:Miniatures, 2:Medium, 3:Competent, 4:Small, 5: DLP] : This is a slightly smaller resin printer, that looks to be a rebrand of the Micromake L2 above.. I’ve started compiling information about the FLSUN – S Complete. I would expect with the reviews that the Micromake L2 has received, we will see a similar functionality out of the FLSUN -S Complete.
- Wanhao Duplicator 7 (Amazon | AliExpress – Official Store) [1:Miniatures, 2:Medium, 3:Competent, 4:Small, 5: DLP] : This printer changed things earlier this year. This was the first “low cost” resin printer to reach the market. Wanhao has gone through several iterations and is currently at version 1.4. They have also just released the Wanhao 7 Plus that is a bit more expensive but has a nice upgrade that upgrades to the touch screen. If you need an inexpensive resin printer, today, this is probably your best bet. When the Firefly is available, it will be worth looking at what it offers. I’ve read mixed reviews overall on this, but there is a very active Facebook group to help new people out. This would not make for a good first printer.
- Peopoly Moai (Peopoly) [1:Miniatures, 2:High, 3:Competent, 4:Small, 5: SLA] : The Peopoly Moai came to us via Kickstarter and proved to be popular. It has since been released to the market and gets good reviews. It is the lowest cost SLA printer on the list, which means it is still a pretty expensive printer, in consumer pricing terms. This is a great printer for printing miniatures with high detail. (Greg_FL, Makers Muse – Pre Production Unit)
- Formlabs Form 2 [1:Miniatures, 2:Very High, 3:Competent, 4:Small, 5: SLA] : The Form 2 is used by a great number of people. This is a great printer, but it comes at a very high price. This is outside the range for most of us, but I figured I would add it to show the beginning of the more pro market for 3D Printers. (Makers Muse)
There you have it. A very non-exhaustive list full of my personal opinions on these printers. Out of all of these printers listed, I only own two of them, but I do follow pretty closely a large number of them and there is a large maker community that produces content about the printers that I also read and watch. This entire list is based off of my opinion and I am sure that there will be a lot of dissenting opinions. I tried to back up my opinions with links to content creators I personally trust.
I tried to pick the lowest cost / best value links. As an example in the FLSUN links, I pointed to the linear Rail versions since they are higher quality. If money is more of a concern, some of these printers have a “cheaper” version available that have corners cut to reduce the price. For a first printer, I would recommend either an i3 clone kit, or a pre built printer. (Or, mostly built printer, like the CR-10s) Also, be aware, I am a bit biased towards Tevo. I believe they have a good product and like that the owner is active in the community. On the East 3D Geko side, that is the reason I was so interested in that printer, because of the involvement of the company owner. This is also why I attempted to find reputable reviews by others on the printers I recommend in this guide. If you have any constructive comments or questions, please leave them below or contact me directly. My printer was purchased to print 3D terrain and Dungeon tiles, primarily, and is also the genesis of this site’s growth in the coverage of those topics.
After you order your printer, check out the resources in the directory for terrain models, miniatures models and more. It contains links to the modeler’s sites themselves as well as my curated collection on Thingiverse. I’ve also talked about other things needed for FDM printers and a similar guide for Resin based Printers. There are also other guides, like setting up Octoprint on a Raspberry Pi (which I highly recommend). I also talk about slicing and getting your first print job done on your printer. Have a look around at the other articles I have posted.