How Long Does It Take to 3D Print a Miniature?

I’ve printed many things since I’ve had my 3D printer. Printing miniatures or minis is a great way to use a 3D printer, and so I thought I’d explain how long it takes to 3D print miniatures.

On average, it takes 30 minutes to print a miniature that is 2 inches (5 cm) tall. Miniatures with more detail will take slightly longer than simpler miniatures. The reason is that the 3D printer nozzle needs to make more back and forth movements which adds extra time.

Below, I will explain how long it takes to print different sized minis, and how you 3D print a mini. As well as, whether you need to sand a 3D printed mini, and how to paint it.

Mini Figure Brim

How the Size of Miniature Affects How Long It Takes

The number I mentioned above – 30 minutes for a 2 inch (5 cm) tall mini can be factored. If it’s been a while since you’ve taken a math lesson you might have forgotten what factored means. Simply put, you can multiply it or divide it to get a rough idea of how long a mini will take to print.

For example, if you were to print a full-sized PokeBall from the anime Pokemon it would take much longer. However, generally speaking, if a mini is twice as big, it will take twice as long to print.

Here’s a table that gives an idea of the average time to print based on the size of the final figurine:

Size of MiniTime to Print
2 in x 1 in x 1 in (5 cm x 2.5 cm x 2.5 cm)30 minutes
4 in x 2 in x 2 in (10 cm x 5 cm x 5 cm)4 hours
1 in x ½ inch x ½ inch (2.5 cm x 1.25 cm x 1.25 cm)15 minutes

But, as you can see, volume involves the width, length, and height. So, if a mini is double the size it can use much more than double the filament. The same is true if you halve the size of a print.

However, if you base it only on volume it is a 1 to 1 relationship. For example, 10g of filament will take 4 hours, and 20g of filament will take 8 hours.

How to know ahead of time how long a mini will take to print

The most precise way of knowing how long a mini will take to print is a data box that appears after importing a 3D design into your slicing software. Don’t worry if this sounds a bit complicated now, as I’ll explain the process for how to 3D print a mini.

The main thing to know is that the software you use to 3D print a mini or any other object will display how much filament it estimates will be used to print it. From there, you can get a rough idea by dividing it by 5.

To print 5 grams (g) of filament takes 1 hour. So, if you divide the amount of filament it will use by 5 it will tell you how many hours. For example, if a mini is quite large and needs 15g of filament.

Then, by dividing it by 5 you can see that it will take 3 hours. As, 15 divided by 5 = 3. So, simply take the amount of filament it needs and divide it by 5.

Less precise method for estimating how long it will take to 3D print a mini

The other way to get a good idea is to eyeball how big the mini is. A mini the size of a chess piece such as a queen, king, knight, or pawn takes about 30 minutes. So, you can kind of guess by seeing how big a mini is compared to a chess piece and guesstimating from there.


How Do You 3D Print a Mini

There were a few things to learn when I first got into 3D printing, such as how to set it up, and using the software used to print using your 3D printer. So, I thought I’d explain the process for 3D printing a mini so that you know what’s involved.

There are 4 broad steps to 3D printing a miniature:

  1. Get the design file for the miniature
  2. Open the file in a slicing software
  3. Send the file to your 3D printer
  4. Print it

Generally, it takes a long time to create a miniature design yourself from scratch and it’s easier to download designs online.

There are a bunch of free mini designs online such as those from anime, D&D, and Warhammer 40k. Overall, it’s very straightforward and not very difficult. It’s almost exactly like printing a document on paper using a regular printer.

Do You Have to Sand 3D Prints?

One thing I wondered when I wondered about 3D printing is whether you need to do any sort of finishing to objects after you print them. Here’s what you need to do after you 3D print something.

As a general rule, you need to sand a 3D print after you print it. It is required more for filament 3D prints than resin prints because resin prints come out smoother. After sanding, it’s also recommended to apply a layer of spray-on primer if you are going to paint your 3D print.

Primer can also create a nicer finish, and fill in any imperfections even if you’re not going to paint it afterward. The reason is that it applies a thin wet coat that fills in minor holes. As you gain more experience you can make better and better decisions about what to sand, and what to leave on the object before you spray it with primer.

Once you spray it with primer you can paint it like you would a Warhammer or D&D model. I included an overview of how to paint 3D printed minis, and what paint to use in this article about whether you can 3D print anime figures. It also covers how much it costs to 3D print anime figurines and other minis.

Sand Paper 220grit

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I'm Rob, the founder of I’m a Marine Corps vet with a master’s degree in Information Systems and have been working in the technology field for over a decade. I started working with 3D printers because I was fascinated by the technology and wanted a hobby that my kids and I can enjoy together.

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