Many people who get resin 3D printers get them to print some high quality miniatures, but it takes some skill to be able to get them perfect. There are some tips and tricks you can use that I went and researched so you can get miniatures just like the pros do.
To 3D print resin miniatures, you simply download a model from a website like Thingiverse, import it to your chosen slicer, adjust the size orientation and settings, making sure your exposure rates are dialed in, carefully add supports to your model, preferably light supports, add a raft, then slice the file for printing.
That’s the basic answer, but there are many more details and questions that I’ve answered in this article so keep on reading to print those professional quality miniatures.
How Do You Print Resin Miniatures?
- Find & download a miniature
- Import the miniature STL file into your chosen slicer
- Adjust the size, orientation, and settings you desire
- Add supports to your model
- Add a raft
- Hollow your model (optional)
- Slice the miniature model
- Save the G-Code file and send it to a USB or memory card
- Insert the USB or memory card into your 3D printer and begin printing
1. Find & Download a Miniature
The first step to 3D printing a resin miniature is to find the file you want to get 3D printed.
I’d recommend going to 3D printer file archives such as:
You can also use 3D printer search engines:
Pick one of these and simply type in your desired object, whether it’s a knight, a druid, a ranger, some type of terrain, or simply just type in miniature. Once you pick a model, you can usually find related models to even further your search, or even click the designers’ page for other models they created.
Below, I did a searcch for “miniature 28mm” to get a specific type of miniature.
I love the Fantasy Mini Collection (Multiple Poses) so I downloaded the Zip File which was 32.7MB, then extracted it.
There are over 20 different STL files of miniatures with different poses that you can use (it also had .dhc files which you can ignore and group by file type).
2. Import the Miniature STL File Into Your Chosen Slicer
After you have downloaded the miniature STL file, you find the location of the saved file and drag that into your chosen slicer. I personally love using Lychee Slicer, but other popular choices for resin printers are ChiTuBox and PrusaSlicer.
Here’s me finding the file then dragging it into Lychee Slicer.
This is the STL loaded into Lychee Slicer.
3. Adjust the Size, Rotation & Copies You Desire
When you select the model in Lychee Slicer, you’ll have the ability to arrange, move, rotate, scale, copy, and even mirror the object at your desire. It is definitely a skill to learn to rotate your models to an optimal orientation depending on the model.
It’s generally a good idea to rotate models anywhere from 10-45° on the build plate to allow for better printing success and fewer supports needed.
With the model below, it would be possible to 3D print it directly on the build plate, but I’d recommend rotating the model, so the more delicate parts can support themselves.
Here is an example of a decent orientation so that the knife and crossbow on the assassin is pointed upwards, so the cured layers of resin can support itself without needing too much extra support.
Now we can more onto the next stage of preparing the resin miniature by selecting the “Prepare” button at the top of the workflow in Lychee Slicer, where we can add supports, rafts, holes and hollow the model.
If you want to try skipping the main preparation process and are feeling lucky, you can try selecting the “Magic” button at the bottom left which will apply:
- Auto orientation
- Auto supports (with choice of Light, Medium, or Heavy)
- Optimize supports
- Bracing supports
The cool thing about this is you can click it as many times as you want until you get something that looks good or close enough to make a few edits.
I’ll show you how the first three I tried turned out.
The angles are definitely unorthodox, but I do think they would still print out successfully. As long as islands are supported and there aren’t large cross-sections in the layers that create strong suction pressure, it should be fine, though probably not optimal!
4. Add Supports to Your Model
I’ll get into supports first, but usually you want to hollow your models before supporting it because when you hollow the model, there will be more unsupported areas that need supports.
For miniatures though, hollowing isn’t too significant because they are small, thin models so I sometimes prefer to leave them solid to give them more weight. You also don’t save much resin since they are small objects compared to hollowing large resin prints.
You can choose to add supports manually or automatically. In the past, Lychee Slicer didn’t provide the best auto supports, but with several updates and algorithms, they’ve improved it to the point where they work really well.
Do keep in mind, you always want to double-check the model and support any areas that need more of a foundation, or any unsupported islands.
When you click “Generate Automatic Supports” it will provide a message to tell you how many supports were added, as well as how many couldn’t be added due to space issues, info about islands, optimizations and bracings.
Here’s what the automatic supports look like with medium size. It looks a little to dense on the right side so I can manually remove what I don’t need and make some of them light or heavy supports.
I tend to use light supports for smaller and delicate parts, medium supports for the average parts, and heavy supports for parts at the bottom of the model that will have the most weight at the end.
So here, I’m angling the model to see what parts are unsupported after removing the dense area of supports. You want to pay attention to the white line that follows your cursor, looking for large flat white areas, which show unsupported areas.
A little trick you can use to add supports off of other supports without building them off the build plate is to hold ALT, then click the beginning of the support, and click to add the end location of the support.
You can do this to reduce the density of supports on the build plate and get supports in hard to reach areas.
If the supports are still too large or you don’t need too much support strength, you can make use of “Mini Supports”.
Another trick you can use in Lychee Slicer is to adjust visibility if you are finding it hard to find unsupported areas or can’t add supports properly since others are in the way.
You can decide to show areas like:
- Just Tips
- Contact Points
You can also scroll up and down with the layers to find floating or unsupported areas.
There is an “Island Detector” in Lychee Slicer that detects islands and highlights them so you reduce print failures in these spots.
It gives you the option to “Add supports to all islands” to fix these issues.
5. Add a Raft
We can now add a raft to the miniature to help with build plate adhesion, which contributes to better print success.
You simply select “Raft” from the left menu.
Here’s what the model looks like without a raft.
Here’s what the model looks like with a “Shape” raft. This is a feature of Lychee Slicer Pro, but with the free version, you can still choose the Cylinder and Cube raft with the free version.
6. Hollowing Your Model
The hollowing process in Lychee Slicer is very simple, enabling you to remove the inner sections of a model so it isn’t solid. Simply select “Hollow” from the left side menu, then it brings up your hollowing options in a box on the right side.
Simply select your desired “Thickness” or wall thickness and “Quality” or smoothness of the inner walls of the hollow. For miniatures, a Thickness of 2.5mm which is the default would be a little too large, so you can try 1.5mm.
Here is a 2.5mm Thickness on the assassin miniature.
Here is a 1.5mm hollow on the same model, but scrolled down in the layer view.
As I mentioned previously with hollowing before supporting the model, the model may have flat areas that come together, and if there is no support underneath, it will be printing in midair.
Below is an example.
The model does kind of close gradually so it may not be a print failure, since the sides could come together quick enough and form the middle, but it could go either way.
Here is an interior view of the model where the gap starts closing.
The gap in the model is fairly flat and closing, so if the sides don’t come together gradually, the layers may not be able to bond together and form a foundation for the rest of the model.
This is why you want to hollow models, then support it, but you can always hollow it afterwards and add in those internal supports yourself. There is an option in Lychee to view the “Interior” or “Exterior”.
If you do hollow your model, make sure to add holes to it, so the uncured resin can drain out of the model. I wrote a guide on How to Dig Holes in Resin Prints Like a Pro, so feel free to check that out.
Once you have your supports, rafts, potential hollowing and holes in place, we can finally slice the miniature model.
7. Slice the Miniature Model
The slicing process is really simple. Just select the last button in the workflow which is “Export” and click “Export slices to file” to start rendering your model into a file that your resin 3D printer can understand.
Make sure to choose the correct 3D printer if you have more than one, as well as the resin settings that you have set up.
Here’s what the rendering screen looks like when you slice a model in Lychee Slicer. It shows you each layer being created.
8. Save the G-Code File and Send it to a USB or Memory Card
The file will save in the destination that you chose, which you can simply transfer to your USB or memory card.
9. Insert the USB or Memory Card Into Your 3D Printer and Begin Printing
This is my Elegoo Mars 2 Pro showing the Assassin file, ready to print.
Here’s the Assassin miniature made in a transparent blue color at a 0.05mm layer height.
What is the Best Layer Height for Resin Miniatures?
The best layer height for resin miniatures is around 0.02mm or 20 microns. Usually, the lower the layer height or higher the resolution, the better the surface quality of the miniature, but you want to balance out printing speed with quality. There won’t be much visible difference between a 0.02mm and 0.01mm miniature.
You have to think about how many layers are being created and how long each layer takes to 3D print. You are essentially doubling your print time if you go from 0.02mm to 0.01mm. Many people go for 0.05mm or 50 microns for miniatures which does work very well.
If your miniature is high quality with many fine details, using those lower layer heights should benefit the model, but some miniatures don’t have those extremely fine details where you need those layer heights.
One user mentioned how he printed a miniature and couldn’t really tell the difference between a 0.02mm and 0.05mm finely detailed gnome he printed, though this was before some of the more modern, higher quality 3D printers were out.
I’d definitely recommend doing some of your own trial and testing with the 3D printer you have since that could make a difference.
Here’s a real example of a 0.025mm vs a 0.1mm layer height test, so you can have an idea of the differences.
Here’s another example of a miniature resin layer height comparison, with a 0.02 & 0.05mm model.
- 0.02mm on the left, 0.05mm on the right
Make sure when you adjust the layer height that you also slightly adjust the curing times because a lower layer height doesn’t need to cure for as long as a higher layer height.
Follow the video below by 3DPrintingPro with adjusting layer exposure times when changing layer heights.
How to Clean Resin Miniatures
To clean resin miniatures, it’s a good idea to first wipe the excess resin off the model with paper towels. Most people use isopropyl alcohol in a tub or in an all-in-one wash & cure machine. You can also use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean resin miniatures. Using a toothbrush also helps with cleaning.
I’d highly recommend using an all-in-one machine like the Anycubic Wash & Cure Station from Amazon. It has a propeller at the bottom of the plastic tub that holds your cleaning solution so it creates a ‘tornado’ effect, changing spin direction halfway through the wash.
It is a very effective solution to cleaning up resin 3D prints and miniatures that several thousands of users are enjoying today. You can also cure your models on the turntable and built-in UV light, so your resin printing process is compact and simplified.
This is the miniature in a wash & cure machine with isopropyl alcohol. The color can get quite murky after a while when you have all sorts of different colors of resin being cleaned, but it still works well.
You can also use a toothbrush afterwards to get any uncured resin left off the model.
How to Assemble & Glue Resin Miniatures – Best Glue to Use
To assemble and glue resin miniatures, you can actually carefully apply uncured resin on the parts, put them together and cure it with an external UV light. Another simple method is to use superglue along with a superglue activator to create an instant bond with the resin parts. Some people use epoxy as glue as well.
I saw a great combination of the superglue and accelerator spray on Amazon. It’s called the Akfix Fast Adhesive CA Glue with Activator, with a pretty reasonable price.
It has a high bonding strength and works for a wide range of materials, so it should work very well for resin miniatures.
You can also choose to get them separately since I saw the delivery times aren’t the best. If you do want to get them separately, I’d go with Gorilla Super Glue Gel & Mitreapel Spray Accelerator for Super Glue, both from Amazon.
How to Paint Resin Miniatures
To paint a resin miniature, simply spray it with some primer, then you can either hand paint it with acrylic paints and a brush or use an airbrush. You can also choose to spray a UV-protecting spray clear coat on the model afterwards, preferably to give it a little more shine.
The Army Painter Dungeons and Dragons Paint Set from Amazon is a very popular paint set from Amazon with a rating at time of writing of 4.8/5.0. It comes with 10 water-based non-toxic paints along with a 1 paint brush.
A good quality primer like the Rust Oleum Professional Primer Spray Paint from Amazon is a solid choice that many users love.
For the clear coat, I’d recommend something like the Krylon Clear Coatings Aerosol UV-Resistant Clear Gloss from Amazon. It has a non-yellowing, permanent coating, dries in just minutes and is moisture resistant.
One user did a direct two-week test by printing two of the same objects which was a photo, and putting them both in the window. One was sprayed with a coat of Krylon while the other wasn’t, and they found a significant difference between the two.
There was no fading on the sprayed image while the non-sprayed image had a lot of fading.
Below is a really detailed tutorial on how to paint miniatures, but this is a fairly high level of painting.
How Do You Print Resin-Like FDM Miniatures?
Printing resin-like filament miniatures is definitely possible with the right advice and tips behind you. The main focus is using a good layer height and nozzle size. I’d recommend a layer height of anywhere between 0.05-0.16mm with a nozzle diameter of 0.2-0.4mm.
In terms of layers, you can try testing out using adaptive layers to see if that produces better miniatures.
You also want to take into account your printing speed, with slower speeds usually bringing the best surface quality. Try using a speed of around 30-40mm/s with miniatures.
Some people don’t use the best top layer settings in miniatures, but you have to ensure there are enough top layers to fill in the top of your models properly.
Retraction settings are important to dial in nicely, especially with these smaller models, so try doing a few retraction tests with different settings to get the optimal settings for your 3D printer, filament, and temperature.
You want to avoid damaging your model by overusing supports so try to learn how to create good custom supports with your miniatures, and even think about using tree supports to create fewer contact points.
I’d recommend looking into optimizing your cooling process with either an upgraded cooling fan or 3D printing your own fan duct to attach to your 3D printer so cool air blows on the model efficiently.
Having a clear nozzle is essential when creating miniatures, as well as potentially using a brim or raft to create a solid foundation for your model.
Filament brands have different tolerance levels in terms of filament diameter, so try to buy filament with a tolerance of 0.03mm or less for ideal results. Another factor to look into is drying your filament if it has gathered moisture, as this can affect the surface quality and printing process.
Most people who 3D print miniatures tend to use colors like gray to show off the best details in the model. Black or white miniatures don’t show a lot of detail so try to get a nice light or dark gray for 3D printing resin-like filament miniatures.
Check out the video below for some more great tips on printing resin-like FDM minis.
How to Remove Paint From Resin Miniatures
It’s recommended to use Simple Green and Purple Power on painted resin miniatures to strip and remove paint. You can also give the resin models a scrub with isopropyl alcohol to get any remnants of paint or primer off a resin miniature. You can even get an ultrasonic cleaner and put Simple Green to do it faster.