Best 3D Print Miniature Settings for Quality – Cura & Ender 3
Using the best settings for 3D printed miniatures is important for getting the best quality and success that you can get. There are some specific settings that you’ll want to use, so I decided to write an article detailing some of those ideal settings for your miniatures.
Keep on reading through this article for info on how to get the best miniatures settings for quality.
How Do You 3D Print Miniatures?
Before we look into the best settings for 3D printed miniatures, let’s quickly go through the basic steps to 3D print a filament miniature.
- Start by creating or downloading the miniature design you want to print – Thingiverse or MyMiniFactory are great choices.
- Open Cura or any other chosen slicer and import the miniature design profile into the slicer.
- Once it has been imported and is displayed on the print bed, move the cursor and zoom in to see the details of the print.
- Adjust print scaling and orientation if necessary. Make sure that all parts of the print are within the boundary of the print bed. It’s usually best to print miniatures at a 10-45° angle.
- If there are some overhangs in the print design, add automatic supports to the structure by enabling supports in Cura. You can also choose to create your own “Custom Support Structures” to manually add supports. It’s easy to do when you get the hang of it.
- Now adjust the best suitable settings for the print in the slicer. It is the most important part of any printing process. Set values for infill, temperature, layer heights, cooling, extruder settings, print speed, and all other necessary settings.
- Now it’s time to print and wait as it may take some hours to get completed.
- Remove the print from the print bed and cut off all its supports either with pliers or simply breaking them with your hands.
- In the end, do all the post-processing which may include sanding, painting and other activities to make them smooth and look shiny.
Best 3D Printer Settings for Miniatures (Cura)
Adjusting settings is necessary to achieve the point where the best quality miniatures can be printed efficiently.
Calibrating extruder, print speed, layer height, infill, and all other settings at the best suitable points are more than essential to get 3D prints of decent quality.
Below are settings for the 3D printer assuming a standard nozzle size of 0.4mm.
What Layer Height Should I Use for Miniatures?
The smaller the print’s layer height is, the higher quality your resultant miniatures will be. In a general, experts say that a layer height of 0.12mm would bring the best results but depending on the type of miniatures and required strength, you may go up to 0.12 & 0.16mm as well.
- Best Layer Height for Miniatures (Cura): 0.12 to 0.16 mm
- Initial Layer Height for Miniatures: X2 Layer Height (0.24 to 0.32mm)
If you did want to try a higher resolution or a smaller layer height like 0.08mm, you’d need to change your nozzle to something like a 0.3mm nozzle.
What Line Width Should I Use for Miniatures?
Line widths usually work good being the same diameter as the nozzle, which for this example is 0.4mm. You can experiment with this and try reducing the line width to try get better details in your model as suggested by Cura.
- Line Width: 0.4mm
- Initial Layer Line Width: 100%
What Print Speed Settings Should I Use For Miniatures?
Since miniatures are a lot smaller than normal 3D prints, we want to also translate that to reducing the print speed. Since there is a lot more precision and accuracy involved, having a lower print speed helps get that higher quality.
It’s definitely possible to get some good miniatures at a standard print speed of around 50mm/s but for optimal results you want to decrease it.
Printing miniatures at 20mm/s to 40mm/s should bring the best results, depending on your 3D printer and setup.
- Print Speed: 20 to 40mm/s
- Initial Layer Speed: 20mm/s
Make sure to keep your 3D printer on a stable and sturdy surface to contain any vibrations.
What Printing & Bed Temperature Settings Should I Use For Miniatures?
Printing & bed temperature settings may vary a bit depending on different 3D printing filaments.
For miniatures printing with PLA, the printing temperature should be around 190°C to 210°C. PLA doesn’t really require any heated bed but if your 3D printer is equipped with one, its temperature should be set at 30°C to 50°C. Below are the best suitable temperatures for varying filaments types:
- Printing Temperature (PLA): 190-210°C
- Build Plate/Bed Temperature (PLA): 30°C to 50°C
- Printing Temperature (ABS): 210°C to 250°C
- Build Plate/Bed Temperature (ABS): 80°C to 110°C
- Printing Temperature (PETG): 220°C to 250°C
- Build Plate/Bed Temperature (PETG): 60°C to 80°C
You may want to have the Initial Layer Temperature a little hotter than the normal temperature, so the first layers have better adhesion to the build plate.
Check out my article How to Get the Perfect Printing & Bed Temperature Settings.
What Infill Settings Should I Use For Miniatures?
For miniatures, some people suggest infill set to 50% as it helps in building strong prints, but you can go lower in many instances. It really comes down to what model you are printing and your personal preferences for how much strength you want.
You don’t usually want an infill above 80% since it means the heated nozzle is going to spend a lot of time emitting heat in the middle of the print, which can lead to printing issues. Some people do actually try 100% infill and get decent results, so it really can go either way.
- Infill Level for Miniatures: 10-50%
What Supports Settings Should I Use For Miniatures?
Support is necessary for almost all kinds of prints, especially if they’re miniatures.
- Supports Density for Miniatures: 50 to 80%
- Supports Optimizations: Less is Better
I’d highly recommend creating your own custom supports so you can minimize any damage from large supports, especially on delicate parts. Also, rotating your miniature to minimize supports is another useful tip, usually towards the back direction.
What Retraction Settings Should I Use For Miniatures?
Retraction should be enabled if you don’t want stringing effects on your miniatures which is really common especially if retraction settings are disabled. It mainly depends on the 3D printer setup and you need to calibrate it accordingly.
You may also test some really small prints to check the restriction setting and determine if it is suitable for your miniature. You may set it at 5 and test by increasing or decreasing 1 point at a time.
Typically, a direct drive extruder gives the best results with a retraction value set between 0.5mm to 2.0mm. While if we talk about Bowden extruders, it may range between 4.0mm to 8.0mm, but this value can change depending upon the type and model of your 3D printer as well.
- Retraction Distance (Direct Drive Extruders): 0.5mm to 2.0mm
- Retraction Distance (Bowden Extruders): 4.0mm to 8.0mm
- Retraction Speed: 40 to 45mm/s
I wrote more about How to Get the Best Retraction Length & Speed Settings.
What Wall Settings Should I Use For Miniatures?
Wall Thickness sets the number of external layers your 3D print has, contributing to strength and durability.
- Optimal Wall Thickness: 1.2mm
- Wall Line Count: 3
What Top/Bottom Settings Should I Use For Miniatures?
The top and bottom settings are important to ensure your miniatures are durable and have enough material at the top and bottom of the model.
- Top/Bottom Thickness: 1.2-1.6mm
- Top/Bottom Layers: 4-8
- Top/Bottom Pattern: Lines
Is the Ender 3 Good for Miniatures?
The Ender 3 is a great, reliable 3D printer which is good for creating miniatures. You can reach high resolution layer heights such as 0.05mm with a smaller nozzle, providing amazing details and clarity in the models. Once you dial in your settings, your miniatures should look remarkable.
Check out the post below showing off many miniatures 3D printed on the Ender 3.
One of the professionals shared his experience stating that he has been using Ender 3 for a long time now but after the continuous printing of 3 weeks, he can fairly say that he is totally happy with the outcomes.
The settings he used on Ender 3 for miniatures are:
- Slicer: Cura
- Nozzle Size: 0.4mm
- Filament: HATCHBOX White 1.75 PLA
- Layer Height: 0.05mm
- Print Speed: 25mm/s
- Print Orientation: Either standing up or at 45°
- Infill Density: 10%
- Top Layers: 99999
- Bottom Layers: 0
The reason he used so many top layers is to trick the slicer into creating a solid model rather than with using the 100% infill setting because slicers had trouble implementing this in the past. I think they are a lot better these days, but you could try this out to see the difference.
He made a video walking people through his process.
Best Slicers for Miniatures
- PrusaSlicer (filament & resin)
- Lychee Slicer (resin)
Cura is the most popular slicer in 3D printing, which also translates into being one of the best slicers for miniatures. It constantly provides users with updates and new features from user feedback and developer innovation.
The workflow and user interface with Cura is fine-tuned, working very well to process your models with great default settings, or even specific Cura profiles that other users have created.
There are all sorts of settings, from basic down to expert which you can adjust and test for the best results.
You can check out my article Best Slicer for the Ender 3 (Pro/V2/S1) – Free Options.