3D printers totally change the way cosplayers like us create.
Never before have we had access to the kinds of tools that can (literally) print anything and everything we can imagine, all with the same caliber and quality of results master prop professionals in Hollywood about all the time.
To say that 3D printer technology has been a game changer is the understatement of the century.
That being said (and I don’t know about you, but this is definitely true for me) tracking down the best 3D printer for cosplay purposes has been a bit of a nightmare.
No, it’s not because there are so few options out there to pick and choose from. But because there are so many!
Worse, all of them (and I mean ALL of them) promise to deliver the best results, the smoothest prints, and the easiest path to creating everything from Star Wars stormtrooper armor to prosthetics for Lord of the Rings elf ears and everything in between.
Some of them deliver the goods but others fall well short of their guarantee.
That’s why I put together this quick guide, though.
By the time you’re done with the inside information below you’ll know exactly what to look for in the best 3D printer for cosplay purposes.
Let’s jump right in!
If You Are Short On Time, Here Is A Quick List Showing You The Best 5 3D Printers for Cosplay:
Creality offers many advantages for a cosplayer that makes it an ideal pick for your main 3D printer. First of all we have a large printing bed. With a 12″ x 12″ x 15.5″ work space Creality CR10 allows you to handle bigger projects and make larger pieces in general. On top of that the CR10 cna handle 30 different types of filaments meaning that you have a great selection of textures and finishes to choose from. And the open source firmware means that it has an active community and can be easily upgraded when it comes to software.
- Open source firmware.
- Nearly all-metal construction.
- Auto-resume for projects.
While our last suggestion went for large work spaces; the Monoprice Mini Printer goes for the complete opposite. This Mini Printer has a build area of 120mm x 120mm x 120mm, and that’s just about perfect for accessories. If you want a 3D printer just to build the fine details in your costume then you don’t need to look further than the Monoprice Select. Small in both size and budget the Monoprice Select provides cosplayers with a simple to use printer that will let you handle any small accessories. And it’s still compatible with just about any filament so you can choose the perfect fit and finish for your project.
- Comes fully assembled.
- Includes a bed scrapper and MicroSD card.
- Includes both a nozzle and board fan,
The Dremel Digilab 3D20 is definitely a product for a hobbyist that wants to cover all their bases with a single model. With a 9″ x 5″ x 5.5″ build space models can’t be as large as the ones you’d print in the Creality printer. But aside from that Dremel Digilab’s is an upgrade in every single sense of the word. As a mid-level printer the Digilab coems with many benefits you won’t find on entry level printers. The Digilab can print with multiple colors at once meaning you can completely skip painting when it comes to your projects. The print area can be closed to ensure a consistent heat. And you can easily leave it printing overnight without worries due to it’s excellent print quality.
- Fully enclosed printing area.
- LCD Touch Screen.
- Multiple color printing.
While it’s utilitarian design might deceive you at first the Artillery Genius is an incredible piece of machinery. Designed to offer mid level print quality with an entry level budget the Artillery is a great deal. 95% pre-built and really easy to use, the Artillery Genius is a fast machine that doesn’t sacrifice quality and yet remains affordable. It doesn’t count with as much support as other brands but it’s great right out of the package.
- Fault detection technology.
- Color Touch Screen.
- Ultra Quiet Operation.
The Ender 3 is meant for people who want to keep the general level of quality build but reduce on the budget as much as possible. The Ender 3 continues Creality’s tradition of offering a large print area so you can make the most out of your projects. Likewise the print quality remains good for the range but this does come at a slower operation time. Your prints will still be great, but corners had to be cut somewhere to reduce the cost.
- Advanced Extruder Technology.
- Resume Print Function.
- Safety Protected Power Supply.
Buying Guide for 3D printer for cosplay
There are a lot of things you could focus on when buying a new 3D printer, but nothing is more important than finding one that can run a lot of different types of filament.
We’re not just talking about different colors of filament here, either (though that is important).
You want to find something that can comfortably run PLA, ABS, PCT, and PCL materials – and some cosplayers are going to want to get their hands on 3D printers that can use metallic filaments, too.
The more filament range your 3D printer has the easier time you’ll have printing any project you can imagine. Limit your filament options and you limit your creativity in a big way.
Build Volume Capacity
You don’t necessarily need an industrial level 3D printer to put out some pretty amazing projects, but you don’t want to have to be gluing and epoxying a million little printed pieces together, either.
Build volume on your printer is going to dictate how big a project piece you can make in one shot.
If you’re going to be making chunks of armor, for example, you’re going to want to have a build volume capacity that is pretty large. This will allow you to print larger HD sections at a time while also giving you the opportunity to print smaller detailed components that you can add later, too.
Larger build volumes mean larger parts, that means fewer components to put together, and that (inevitably) means fewer weak spots in your cosplay set up.
The resolution that your 3D printer pumps components out at is another huge piece of the puzzle.
You want something that can put out skyhigh print resolutions, reproducing your work that you have scanned in or modeled in as close to 1:1 detail as possible.
Low level print resolutions are going to require a lot of “doctoring” after they come out of the printer to finish them up, and you’ll never get quite as clean a result as you are hoping for with that approach.
Luckily, even the least expensive 3D printer options on the market right now still have fantastic print resolutions compared to just a few short years ago.
Tracking down the best 3D printer for cosplay purposes with a great resolution that won’t break your bank account is easier now than ever before.
Print speeds are never going to be as fast as you’d like them to be (that’s just the nature of the beast) – we haven’t gotten to instant prints yet, anyway – but you’ll still want something that puts great workout as quickly as possible.
At the same time, you might not always want to run your 3D printer at top speed every single time.
Sometimes it’s advantageous to slow things down, to focus on detail work, and to let your system sort of chug along rather than pushing it at maximum output and maybe having mistakes you need to troubleshoot later down the line.
All in all, though, faster 3D printers are definitely better to have than slower ones that you can dial back as needed.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is a little bit lower on this list of things to look for in the best 3D printer options out there for a couple of reasons, but the biggest one is that most cosplayers are willing to teach themselves how to use a new tool like this if it means getting incredible results.
On the flip side of things, though, nobody wants to feel like they are getting an engineering degree just to use a 3D printer to build some cosplay pieces.
Look for a 3D printer that is (generally) pretty easy to use but one that isn’t going to handicap your capabilities moving forward, either.
Try not to sacrifice utility and capability or ease of use if you don’t have to.
It’s always better to learn how to squeeze a little more out of your 3D printer than finding you ended up with a Fisher Price version that won’t grow with you and your imagination.
Zero in on the details we highlighted above and you’ll never have to worry about landing the wrong 3D printer to build your cosplay pieces from here on out!