What is the best 3d printer for action figures?
To get the right answer, you first need to know what do you need to make the action figures. Is everything depends on the 3d printer? or there is something else that you need to know about?
This article will answer everything about making 3d models of action figures.
Which 3d Printing Technology is good to make Action Figures?
- Which 3d Printing Technology is good to make Action Figures?
- These are the best 3d printers to make action figures
- Phrosen Sonic 8k Resin Printer | Best Overall
- Anycubic Photon Resin Printer
- Elegoo Saturn SLA 3D Printer
- Flashforge Foto Resin Printer
- Comparison of Phrosen, Anycubic, Elegoo & Flashforge
- Difference of 4k, 6k & 8k in Resin Printer
- Why Action Figures?
- What types of resin should you use for making Miniatures?
- Printing Action Figures or Miniatures with FDM Printers
- How to make an action figure with a 3d printer?
- Potential Hazard of 3d Print risk
- 3d Printer Market Analysis
There are mainly four types of 3d printers available. The most common and affordable one is Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). The FFF printer is also known as the FDM printer stands for – Fused Deposition Modeling.
Making an Action figure would require technology that gives as much detail as the printing object.
We have seen that the FDM printers are good at making vast diversity of objects but slightly bad at making action figures.
In other words, the SLS printers (Stariolithography) are very good for making action figures due to the use of liquid resin as raw material.
Let’s imagine that the figure you are going to design has beards, face spots,s, and a different eyelash. In such circumstances, the FDM printer cannot ensure the detail as the SLS printers do.
Here’s a basic comparison of the four types of 3d printing technology.
|Material||Plastic||Liquid Resin||Nylon Powder||Anything|
|Presision||0.1 mm or less||High||Good||N/A|
|Freedom of Forms||No||Limited||Yes||Very Limited|
SLA Liquid Resin VS FDM Filament | In-depth comparison
Here’s an in-depth study that illustrates the main differences between the SLA – Liquid Resin and the FDM Plastic Filaments. This part will help you to understand more of why the SLA gives a better output of any action figures.
SLA stands for Steeiolithography or digital light processing (DLP). This 3d printing technology uses lights to place the liquid resin into different layers. The printer works on a layer-by-layer approach on the print bed that produces a detailed 3d printed action figure or any other model.
On the other hand, Fused Deposition Modeling or FDM technology uses melted plastic filaments on the print bed through its hot end. After placing a layer of hot plastic, the FDM printer then releases another layer of hot melt material over the previous layer.
The main expertise of the SLA printer is – that it uses its UV over the layers that makes it shine and turn into a solid layer, which is not possible on the FDM printers.
Here’s a pictorial comparison of liquid resin & filament print at our lab.
So, if you are up to making smaller models with a great finish, the SLA printers are the ones that you need. However, If you need to build something LARGE and then the FDM printers would be really a great choice.
You can also bring the Resin finish into FDM prints with these tricks.
Here’s another in-depth comparison of SLA & FDM printers for your help.
|Material||Liquid Resin||Plastic Filament|
|Use of UV Light||Yes||No|
|Build Volume||Small||Large / Medium|
|Ease of Use||Complex||Easy|
|Noise||Very Low||Depends on Motherboard|
SLA VS MSLA
MSLA or Masked Stereolithography Apparatus is an advanced version of SLA technology that mainly differentiates from the laser curing process of the SLA printers.
The main difference is that the MSLA printing technology only considers the number of layers instead of the number of materials in each layer like the SLA printers. It not only contributes to printing accuracy; but also, offers a speed advantage to a greater extent while printing multiple items at the same time.
On the other hand, SLA printers account for resolution depending on the diametre of the laser beam. But, the MSLA printer considers the resolution of the LCD screen.
To round up, MSLA printers are the upgrades of SLA printers. However, SLA still is the best 3d printing device for making action figures or miniatures.
The below image is an example of MSLA printing with transparent resin outside.
These are the best 3d printers to make action figures
We primarily selected 46 resin 3d printers that may be best for making action figures. However, 23 of them could not pass the second stage of evaluation. Here’s the final list of action figures-making 3d printers you be looking for.
We have tested more than 23 resin printers ranging in different sizes and resolutions. We have tested them one by one and filtered the best 10 ten for the final stage review. Our specialized team has examined different miniatures & action figure samples and voted for the shortlisted items for publication.
These are the Best 4 SLA Resin 3d printers suitable for making Action Figures & Miniatures:
- Phrosen Sonic 8k (Best Overall with the highest resolution)
- Anycubic Photon (Second Best)
- Elegoo Saturn (Best for budget)
- Flashforge Foto (Works faster than Elegoo)
We have noticed that Phrosen 8k stands above all due to its maximum resolution. In SLA resin printing, the resolution of the printer matters the most since the ultimate finishing of the work is the most critical success factor of a resin printer.
We have also noticed that the Phrosen 6k was one of the best-selling printers in 2021 and the company introduced the 8k version and took the early mover’s advantage so nicely.
Anycubic Photon was the second-best performer after the Sonik 8k. The level of detail that the Photon gave us was unbelievable. The printing finish was top-notch than the others.
Elegoo Saturn is their most updated resin printer with a larger build size. It took third place just for a bit slower speed than the others; however, the UV curing was notably better than all.
Bed leveling of Flashforge Photo was awesome, even the precision as well. Overall it’s also a premium resin printer having a lot more possibilities to explore.
Phrosen Sonic 8k Resin Printer | Best Overall
Currently, Phrosen’s Sonic Mini 8k is the most lucrative resin 3d printer suitable to make action figures. The resolution it offers is mind-blowing. So far it gives the maximum resolution with great printing speed and accuracy.
No need to assemble it, It comes pre-built. You just need to unbox, calibrate and directly jump overprinting.
Sonic Mini 8k provides 7500 X 3240 pixels on its LCD module.
The build volume would be 6.5″ x 2.8″ x 7″, with a machine footprint of 11.4″ x 11.4″ x 16.5″.
The UV light comes from Linear Projection LED Module that gives amazing accuracy while printing action figures.
Here’s a video on Sonic 8k
What Makes Frozen Sonic 8k Different from Flashforge, Anycubic & Elegoo
These are the issues that helped Phrosen Sonic 8k to stand out among the other competitors:
- XY Accuracy we have found was 22 microns which is 8 Microns higher than the Phorsen Sonic 6K and 9 microns higher than the Anycubic Photon.
- Print accuracy is 40% better than Elegoo Mars.
- LCD gives a near 21:9 aspect ratio which is massively higher than the Anycubic & Photon,
- Almost zero vibration makes it the most silent resin printer. However, The ELegoo Mars was not as quiet as the Phrosen Sonic 8k
- Sonic 8K comes with a double Z axis compared to Elegoo Mars 3 with an advantage of resin printing at higher accuracy
- The print bed mount was much more stable than the Anycubic Photon. This drastically reduces the vibration.
- The resin tank is easy to lock which reduces the risk of improper placement of consumable tank in any resin printer.
- The noise level is exactly 45DB which means it is quieter than the Flashforge Foto.
- Print speed is better than the Flashforge Foto & Anycubic Photon. We have found exactly 800 mm/hour on this Phrosen 8k.
- The slicer ChiTuBox is easier to operate compared to the Fhashforge Foto. However, ChiTuBox may need more time to fix the details.
- Comes with accessories such as disposable gloves, FFP2 masks, a disposable resin filter,s, and Isopropyl alcohol.
Phrosen 8k action figure print quality
Here is an example of an action figure 3d print on Sonic 8k.
See the level of detail it offers. Here’s another one
Phrosen sonic mini 8k comes with everything you need to get your first print within an hour.
Positive Sides of Phrosen
- Layer thickness would be 0.01 to 0.3 mm
- No noise, No Vibration
- So easy and flexible to operate
- Works with ChiTuBox
- Accuracy is at max
- Print bed adhesion is awesome
Negative sides of Phrosen
- Noise cancelation cannot be less than 45 DB
- By nature, resin prints take longer time than the others
Anycubic Photon Resin Printer
Anycubic Photon M3 Plus is a 6k monochrome screen all UV resin printer suitable for making any type of action figures. It comes with a build size of 9.6″ x 7.8″ x 4.8″ with ultra-fast printing technology.
This resin printer can print a 12 cm object in 1.2 hours at a print speed of 3.93 inches/hour. Such print speed may seem to be low when compared to FDM printers. However, 3.9r in/hour is very good in the resin printing arena.
On top of that, its automatic feeding technology will help you from protecting the 3d prints from lack of resin. The contrast ratio of 350:1 gives you more details with a very high-precision ball screw.
On top of everything, Anycubic Photon gives you the ultimate freedom of cloud printing & cloud storing. You can easily print regardless of thinking about where you are.
These are the positive sides of Anycubic SLA printers.
- No assembly needed
- Price is within the range
- Anycubic has their own slicing software
- Comparably low noise
- Great Finish
These are the cons of Anycubic Photon
- Since it is a resin printer, the printing speed takes more time
- Build size is limited
- The maximum amount of resin in the vat is 100 ml but, a solid block may require more than 1 liter of resin. In that case, you may need to refill 10 times to get a solid 3d print block.
Here’s an Action figure 3d print from Anycubic Photon SLA 3D printer using Liquid Resin
Additional issues of Anycubic Photon
- You do not need to install any exhaust ventilation fan to operate this printer. We have tested in our lab and there were no toxic fumes so far.
- You can always use water washable resin to work with this 3d printer.
- You cannot print directly from Solidworks as everything you need to bring in Photon slicer.
- The good thing is that it doesn’t always need a computer. Only you need a computer if you are running remotely.
- It is a dual linear version so there will be an extra advantage.
- You may need to recalibrate the printer after every print.
How does Anycubic Photon M3 Plus differ from the Anycubic Photon Ultra?
The question may have already come to your mind how does Anycubic Photon M3 plus differ from the Anycubic Ultra. Here’s a glimpse of the basic comparison.
Here’s a video on Anycubic Photon
|Anycubic Photon M3 Plus||Anycubic Photon Ultra|
|XY Resolution||5760 x 3600 px (6K)||0.08 mm / 720p (1280 x 720 px)|
|Build area||197 mm (L) x 122 mm (W) x 245 mm (H)||102.4 (L) x 57.6 (W) x 165 (H) mm|
|Light Source||Anycubic LighTurbo||UV-LED|
|Layer Thickness||0.01 ~ 0.15 mm||0.01-0.15mm|
|Printer Size||360 mm (L) x 290 mm (W) x 475 mm (H)||222 (L) x 227 (W) x 383 (H) mm|
|Cloud Connectivity||Available||Not Available|
Elegoo Saturn SLA 3D Printer
After Anycubic, Elegoo Saturn is another masterpiece SLA 3d printer suitable for action figure making. It comes with an 8.9 inches 4k monochrome LCD screen with HD resolution. The build volume is large enough to create multiple action figures at the same time. The build volume is 192*120*200mm which can fiercely increase the productivity you are expecting.
You can easily achieve a steadier motion with Elegoo’s double linear structure. In terms of accuracy, Elegoo Saturn is somewhat close to the Anycubic Photon 6x.
The light source consists of 54 UV LED lights that ensure fine print results.
For more, Read Price Comparison here>>>
The followings are the pros of Elegoo Saturn SLA printer
- Larger build volume
- 4k resolution
- Awesome print finish
- A bit overpriced, I believe
Here’s an Action figure 3d print from Elegoo Saturn SLA 3D printer using Liquid Resin
More you should know
- You can easily drip resin as the build plate rotates 90 degrees on the z-axis.
- You easily fit 15 32mm models based on the build plate and the whole job completes within 3.5 hours. That means, one model takes around 4 minutes roughly.
- You may need to calibrate after each use otherwise, the result may not be satisfactory indeed.
How does Elegoo Saturn differ from Elegoo Mars (The earlier version)?
Here’s an in-depth comparison of how the Elegoo Saturn varies from its earlier version which is Elegoo Mars.
|Elegoo Saturn||Elegoo Mars|
|LCD Screen||50 microns XY resolution||2K HD LCD|
|Build Volume||192 x 120 x 200 mm||120 x 68 x 155 mm|
|Connectivity||USB and Ethernet||USB Only|
|Print Speed||1-2 seconds||8 seconds|
|Software||Third-party resin slicers||Third-party resin slicers|
It shows that the ELegoo Saturn is far better than the Elegoo Mars. The Saturn version comes with a larger build plate, faster print quality, and a better print finish.
Flashforge Foto Resin Printer
Flashforge Foto SLA resin printer comes with an HD mono screen of 9.25 inches in 6k. The printing resolution would be 5760×3600.
A larger print size of 9.25 inches gives an extra advantage along with a print volume of 197 * 122 * 200mm. On top of everything, the industrial-grade double linear bring the printer to an advanced level like the Anycubic photon. It means, your operation will be much smoother with the accurate z-axis positioning.
This printer comes fully assembled with no extra effort for setting it up. The auto adjustment feature keeps the error percentage down with maximum print quality.
Here are the key takeaways of Flashforge Foto
For more, Check the Flashforge Price Comparison>>>
- Lifetime technical support
- Larger print size
- Faster printing 10-50 mm/H
- Easy leveling
- Higher resolution up to 35 μm
- Larger LCD
- Larger print bed 280*240*465mm
- Print quality was pooer than the Anycubic & Elegoo
- No Cloud Connectivity
Here’s an Action figure 3d print from Flashforge Foto SLA 3D printer using Liquid Resin
More you should know
- This 9.25 variant completely eliminates the layer lines
- It allows quick forming through the high light transmittance
Comparison of Phrosen, Anycubic, Elegoo & Flashforge
This section will help you to compare the four SLA printers suitable for making action figures. We have considered the print speed, print quality, Build area, and other qualitative aspects in a summary to help in your decision-making process.
|Phrosen Sonic 8k||Anycubic Photon M3 Plus||Elegoo Saturn||Flashforge Foto|
|XY Resolution||7500 X 3240 pixels||5760 x 3600 px (6K)||50 microns XY resolution||5760x3600|
|Build area||330 x 185 x 400 mm||197 mm (L) x 122 mm (W) x 245 mm (H)||192 x 120 x 200 mm||197 x 122 x 200mm|
|Print Speed||70 mm/hour||60 mm/hour||1-2 seconds/layer||2-3 seconds/layer|
|Print Quality||Extreme||High||High||Better Than Others|
|Cloud Connectivity||Available||Available||Not Available||Not Available|
|Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
It appears that the Phrosen Sonic 8K ranks above all with greater resolution and higher accuracy & print speed. However, the performance of Anycubic Photon & Elegoo Mars is also considered good in comparison with the price.
Difference of 4k, 6k & 8k in Resin Printer
There might be a question in your brain that knocks about the difference between 6k and 8k of a resin printer.
In easy words, a higher resolution gives more details. For example, the Phrosen Sonic Mini 8k will provide you with more detailed action figures than that of Elegoo Mars.
Why Action Figures?
There was a time when we have seen so many cinematic characters on television. Time goes and we have started to live with those action figures. 3d printers have given us the opportunity to make a three-dimensional printout of our favorite heroes/action figures.
Some people found that giving a 3d printed action figure to the kids helps develop their inner senses.
What types of resin should you use for making Miniatures?
There are several types of resin to make miniatures and action figures with an SLA 3d printer. Mostly the SLA printer seller will recommend or sell the appropriate types of resin for making miniatures.
However, you can buy resins from marketplaces as well. Different types of resins are:
These resins are the same as the standard resin which comes in different solid colors. Clear resins are great for a better quality finish and transparent prints. To make the action figures waterproof, clear resins also play a major role.
Tough resins produce strong miniatures which makes them more stronger and durable. Tough resins are useful when someone wants to prepare a component model or architectural footprint. Tough resins are identical for making the model sturdy and stronger.
Flexible resins are like rubber. Such resins make the miniatures flexible but require a support structure to print. Usually, people need this to make handles, grips, etc.
Water washable resins require water in post-processing without having the need os isopropyl alcohol. These are good for faster curing and are also affordable. Miniatures made of water washable resins are suitable for painting and dyeing anonymously.
Printing Action Figures or Miniatures with FDM Printers
You can also print miniatures or action figures with the FDM 3d printers which operate differently than the resin printers. The main difference is that the FDM printers can leave layer marks that are not that superior to the resin prints.
See the picture below: This action figure printing is made on Makerbot with ABS filament at a 50% infill percentage. You can see the layer marks but you can easily remove them by applying epoxy solution anytime.
Again, if you can work with the infill percentage, nozzle size and increasing the printing time, you can even make stunning miniatures with regular filaments and an FDM 3D printer. See the below picture, it’s a miniature on FDM printer which took 79 hours of mine.
If you need a 3d printer for a mixture of purposes then you may choose this FDM printer from the list below.
Makerbot Replicator is one of the premium FDM printers that can print any miniatures, parts, or even anything as per your design. Its precession is super accurate and its speed is also mind-blowing. Usually, this printer comes up with a build volume of 245 mm which means you can fit any of the models underneath the extruder. The most common concern someone may have is warping which refers to pulling off any of the sides of the 3d printer before it gets done. We have experienced that the replicator stops warping at the maximum level with a printing speed of around 200 mm per second. Such premium FDM printers are also a good choice when compared to silent resin printers. One thing you may experience negatively is the final finish. Surely it will not seem as great as the resin prints of Sonic 8k. But, you can apply epoxy or even follow these guidelines.
How to make an action figure with a 3d printer?
Printing action figure in a 3d printer is super easy if you know these super steps. We will explain here how to make an action figure with a 3d printer from our research output and experts’ opinions.
Design Action Figure
First, you need to collect the 3d model from any depositories or make one in AutoCAD. Earlier, we published an article on designing models that you can check. If you cannot design the 3d model of the action figure, you can easily download it from the depositories such as Thingiverse, MyMiniFactory, Printable, Cults, or GrabCAD. Usually, these depositories have free 3d models available to download but, there may be some premium action figure models that need payments.
You can also outsource the process of designing action figures from outsourcing websites such as Upwork or Fiverr. Usually, a single action figure 3d modeling would charge you USD 10 to 15 but, there might be some newcomers who can even do the job at the minimum costs.
There are some online groups (such as Telegram), where you can find some good 3d print models for free.
Define Action Figure Design
The second step is to define the details of your 3d model of the action figure. If you buy the action figure 3d design from any depositories or outsource, there would not be any job of defining details. However, if you design by yourself, Free CAD software would do the job of defining models.
Print Action Figure on your Resin Printer
The third step is to print.
Just you need to keep some important notes in mind that if the action figure model is printed in place or you may need to split the 3d print.
Some people find the splitting very useful but it takes a lot of effort to post-processing later on. Just be very careful when exporting the STL files to your 3d printer slicer program.
Many 3d printers have their own slicer program that may not support all types of files.
The final step is post-processing.
There are a few things you need to consider while post-processing the 3d printed action figure.
You need to remove the supports from your splitter prints through a craft knife.
After that, try fitting the parts one by one. You may need to glue them together for a greater finish.
If the action figure is ready, it’s your time to paint it. Again, it’s an art that everyone cannot. Painting the 3d printed action figure makes it perfect.
If you need to make it waterproof, follow this guideline.
Our latest article can also help you in making the 3d prints more durable.
Potential Hazard of 3d Print risk
These are the potential risks that come from 3d printing. Consider these especially if you print a lot of action figures in your 3d printer.
- There could be a thermal runaway error that may cause a fire hazard. Action figure printing requires a resin printer that works slower than the FDM printers.
- The cooling fan is an important part of the 3d printer. Based on the RPM, the fans cool down the print and control the noise. Sometimes cooling fan failure may expose the 3d printer to fire hazards.
- The 3d printing places may lack a fire suppression system which is risky.
- Resin printers may produce toxic fumes while making action figures.
- Not all material is performance grade. Be very careful while choosing the resin printer for making action figures.
- Often UV lights from resin printers harm our skin and outer surface.
We strongly recommend you follow the guideline set by US consumer Commission when making action figures on your 3d printer.
3d Printer Market Analysis
This section refers to the application, key drivers, major market challenges, and industry growth of 3d printers.
As per the Grand View Research team, the total market size of 3d printers stood around USD USD 16.75 billion in 2022. The anticipated revenue in 2030 is USD 76.17 billion which represents a compounding annual growth or CAGR of 21% approximately.
The industrial 3d printer segment counts for 70% whereas the rest 30% is the personalized setup.
It means, that a big number of customers are either 3d printer enthusiasts or making use of 3d printers non-commercially. The 30% pie also helps to predict that the available 3d printing companies will start working on more innovations that ultimately benefit us.