One of the main reasons I got my 3D printer was to print cool and interesting things like miniatures. But, before I got my 3D printer I was curious whether it’s cheaper to print miniatures like those used in D&D. So, I thought I’d summarize whether it’s cheaper to print D&D minis or to buy them.
On average, it is cheaper to 3D print D&D miniatures. D&D miniatures such as tiles, and figurines cost about $1 if you buy 20 or more at a time, and about $5 to $10 if you buy them individually. Whereas, 3D printing your own costs between $0.10 and $0.50 for an average-sized D&D miniature.
There are a few costs involved in printing D&D minis. Many people also wonder how long it takes to print a D&D mini, and what 3D printer you need to print D&D minis. So, below I will explain the answers to all of these questions.
To print a D&D mini, as well as, other miniatures you will use filament or resin and electricity. With 3D printing, there can often be failed prints.
This is where you’re printing an object and something happens, such as you bump the desk your 3D printer is sitting on. Or, the temperature of the plate isn’t hot enough. When that happens the 3D print can not turn out properly, so you need to print it again.
This is generally rare, once you’ve got a bit of experience using your 3D printer. But, I’ve accounted for that in the calculation for how much it costs to 3D print a D&D mini. Here’s a table that shows how much it costs to 3D print a chess-sized piece D&D mini.
|Expense||Price for a Chess Piece Sized D&D Mini|
|Filament||$0.06 (2.5g of filament)|
|Margin for error for failed prints, and wasted filament||$0.01|
For something twice the size, simply double the price. D&D figures can range in size and so the price for an individual D&D mini can vary. For example, if you print a dragon the size of a coffee mug, you can expect to use a lot more filament.
The electricity cost is very small and on average it costs about 2 cents per hour to print with a 3D printer. So, the main cost is the filament or resin. There are broadly two types of 3D printers – resin 3D printers, and filament 3D printers. I’ll explain the major differences as it does affect the price of printing a D&D miniature.
Resin is about 50% more expensive than filament. As an example, a cheap 1kg roll of filament costs around $20. Whereas, the same amount of resin costs about $30.
Therefore, printing a D&D mini with resin will also cost about 50% more. So, a mini that costs $1 to print with filament costs $1.50 to print with resin.
With a resin printer, you need to clean it down in a special way afterward which requires quite a bit of isopropyl alcohol. And adds additional expense. You also need to replace the resin tank from time to time. All things considered, it’s more pricey to print with a resin 3D printer.
The main advantage of printing in resin is that the resolution and smoothness of the model is much better than one printed with filament. This means you need to spend less time afterward sanding it down to get a really smooth finish.
So printing your own D&D miniatures is cheaper than buying them. But, what 3D printer is best for printing D&D miniatures.
An entry level 3D printer that costs about $250 works well to print D&D miniatures. One of the most popular 3D printers is the Creality Ender 3 and it prints high quality D&D miniatures that you can use yourself or sell. But, any entry level 3D printer will work well.
The main thing I look for when I buy new products is the number of positive reviews they have, and what people have to say about them. So, based on that I went with the Ender 3. But, there are many good options available.
The cost to buy a 3D printer is a few hundred dollars or more. So, I thought I’d break down whether it’s worth getting a 3D printer to print D&D minis.
Overall, it is worth it to get a 3D printer for printing D&D minis. Cost savings per D&D miniature you print are in the range of $0.80 to $5. After a 3D printer is used to print 40 to 500 small D&D miniatures a 3D printer will pay for itself. There are also many other things you can print.
Depending on how many D&D minis you want to print right now, it can pay for itself pretty quickly. If you normally buy your D&D figures in bulk, say in 20 pieces or more, a 3D printer will take longer to pay for itself because you save less per mini you print.
But, if you buy one figure at a time, or in small sets of 4 to 5 then a 3D printer will pay for itself a lot sooner.
3D printing does take a bit of time, a small mini like you would print for D&D, or Warhammer 40k takes about 1 hour to print. This would be for a mini that is about the size of your thumb.
On a side note, many people wonder whether you can 3D print anime figurines like Pokemon. I summarized whether you can and how easy it is in this article about can you 3D print anime figurines.
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