The GeekCyborg team has put together this guide to help you find the best 3D printers for cosplay and props making. If you want to buy a 3D printer but don’t know which to choose —and why, this buyers’ guide will help you make the right choice. In the past few years, there have been plenty of noteworthy examples of 3D-printed cosplay costumes and props. They show the possibilities that 3D printing technologies can open for cosplayers. Nowadays, 3D printing is more accessible than ever. There are high-quality 3D printers that work for cosplayers with all budgets. Whether you want to make small props or large armor parts, there is a 3D printer that’ll help you bring those cosplay ideas to life. Pro tip: make sure to use the right primer for your 3D printed parts before painting them. This will help you get the best results and make the painting process much easier.
The following are some of the world’s best cosplayers who are using 3D modeling and printing to make awesome costumes. Check out their work to see the full potential of this technology in cosplay and what 3D printed cosplay costumes look like.
This award-winning workshop creates some high-quality costumes and creatures for film, TV, and private collectors alike. These guys also use 3D printing to create their amazing cosplay costumes and props.
Shappi is a cosplay workshop that’s founded by a world-renowned cosplayer from Poland. Their work shows the true potential of 3D printing in cosplay.
Top considerations for buying a 3D printer for cosplay & props making
The following are the most important things you should consider when choosing a 3D printer for making cosplay costumes and props. This buyers’ guide will help you pick the model that’s perfect for your needs.
a. The print volume of your cosplay parts
It’s a no-brainer that a small 3D printer can’t print big cosplay parts. At least not as one piece. Using a 3D printer that supports a large printing volume, you can create a helmet in one full piece. In the case of a low-volume 3D printer, you’ll have to create the same helmet as small parts, then glue them together. The general rule here is that large 3D printers are better. Supporting a large printing volume allows you to make better -and more durable- cosplay parts. The size usually means a more expensive model but if you can afford it, you should definitely go for a bigger printer. Of course, you need to consider where you will be 3D printing your cosplay parts as well. If you have space limitations, a large printer might not be an option. Getting an awesome 3D printer that is too large for the space you have…never a good thing!
b. 3D printer type
All the common “consumer” grade 3D printers are FDM (Fused Filament Fabrication) printers. These 3D printers use a continuous filament of a thermoplastic material that’s layered to create the desired shape. Of course, there are lots of other 3D printing techniques out there. Most of the other printers though are super-expensive and are generally used at a commercial scale. Even for the most serious cosplayers, a high-quality FDM printer is more than enough. There are different types of 3D printers like DLP and SLA printers.
c. Printer Resolution Vs. Printing Speed
Just like traditional printers, 3D printers have a printing resolution as well. However, it’s the printing is being done in the X, Y, and Z-axis, the resolution here refers to the smallest movement that the printer’s extruder can make. The smaller the movements a printer can make, the more the details it can produce. Unlike in traditional printers, lower resolution means better printing quality for 3D printers. For example, a 3D printer with a 0.05mm resolution is better than one with a 0.3mm resolution. One thing to keep in mind though is that higher 3D printing resolutions translate into slower printing speeds. So, when you see a 3D printer with a high speed, check the resolutions to make sure that they’re good enough. Most 3D printers that you can currently buy have a resolution between 0.1 – 0.3 mm (10-30 microns). Any printer with a resolution that’s less than 0.1mm (10 microns) is an HD 3D printer. In the end, the speed vs. resolution choice depends on the type of cosplay parts you want to 3D print. In most cases, speed shouldn’t be a deciding factor when choosing a 3D printer for cosplay. Unless a printer is significantly slow, you’ll be fine. All of the models on our list have a decent printing speed so, you don’t need to worry about this. Pro tip: Power outages can ruin your 3D prints, especially long ones. Using a UPS allows you to get rid of this problem for good. If you don’t know what a UPS is, check out this post. These are important things to consider when you’re buying a new 3D printer for cosplay. The type of connectivity and control that are supported by a 3D will impact your overall user experience. For example, some models have WiFi connectivity. Using this WiFi connection, you can access your printer without needing a computer. Some models can be controlled via a mobile app, other models have USB support. Before you buy a 3D printer, make sure it has the kind of connectivity and control that’ll make it fun for you to use. Some models even take things to the next level by providing a built-in camera that allows you to monitor your builds from your smartphone. Asides from being cool, this makes checking your builds -which can take hours- convenient, even when you’re away from the printer.
e. Filament Support
There are many types of filaments that can be used with FDM 3D printers. ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), Dissolvable filament (HIPS), and Flexible filament (TPU) are just some of the types that you can use. When you’re choosing, you need a model that supports as many filament types as possible. Since they have different physical properties, being able to use different filaments will help you print better parts for your cosplay costumes. What will work for a small prop won’t necessarily work for a big and complex armor build. Pro tip: To ensure the best 3d printing results, make sure to use quality filaments. We highly- recommend HatchBox filaments so, make sure to check them out if you’re not already using them. If you want to keep your 3D print creations —as well as other types of sensitive data— safe, an encrypted flash drive can help.
This hands down the best 3D printer that’s available now. If you’re after the highest quality —and don’t mind paying a premium for it, this 3D printer is what you’re looking for. First of all, this industrial-grade 3D printer allows you to use a wide array of filaments. We couldn’t think of any filament type that this printer didn’t support. This includes everything from TPU, ABS, PLA, and even Nylon and Carbon Fiber. This will allow you to create high-quality props and cosplay costumes that are super-durable, regardless of the material they’re made from. One thing we really liked about this model is that you can place the filament spool on the top of the printer, or inside the dedicated side compartment. While you can do this with some other models as a “hack”, the industrial-grade QIDI printer supports both filament spool positions. As a result, you can print using any type of 1.7mm filament you like. As long as the filament you’re using has the right thickness, feel free to experiment with anything you like. The fact that this printer has a removable printing plate eliminates the hassle that you’ll usually go through with fixed-plate printers. Just take the plate out, and you shouldn’t have a problem removing your printed piece without damaging it. As you’d expect from such a high-end model, it has all the bells and whistles you can think of. This includes everything from WiFi connectivity to an intuitive LCD screen and a slicer software like nothing we’ve seen before.
If you’re looking for a premium 3D printer for cosplay parts and don’t mind spending more to get it, we highly recommend this model. Having features that can only be found in premium 3D printer models make this one of the best 3D printers for cosplay. Since this 3D printer has fully-automatic filament loading, all you have to do is insert the cartridge and it’ll take care of the rest. The clear and intuitive LCD screen allows for a user-friendly experience and accurate controls of this printer’s different functions. This includes assisted bed leveling, which is essential for high-quality builds. When you have to do this process manually, it’ll never be perfect and will affect the quality of your 3D prints. And that’s why assisted bed leveling is such a big deal. You can also use the compatible mobile app and the remote monitoring camera of this model to get a live preview of your builds whenever you feel like it. There is something awesome about seeing those cosplay pieces being 3D printed. One layer at a time! You can also turn the interior LED light on to monitor the build even when the printer is in a dark room. Since this 3D printer is compatible with the 3DWOX Desktop software, creating and executing custom 3D prints is a pretty straightforward process.
Dremel is one of the biggest names in 3D printing. This company is known for making some of the best 3D printers for cosplay, and this model is no exception. First of all, the build volume of this machine is noticeably bigger than similar models. At 10 x 6 x 6.7 inches, you get fewer limitations on the things that you can print. With that print volume, you’ll be able to print some cosplay pieces without having to split them. The removable glass build plate makes it easier to get the finished part out without damaging it, and it’s also easier to clean. Another thing that’s great about this printer is the heated bed. This allows you to print using materials like Nylon and Eco-ABS, which wouldn’t have been possible without a heated bed. Since this is a Dremel machine, you’ll get the best results when you use Dremel filaments. They have overall high quality and the Dremel 3D printers can detect the type you’re using and adjust accordingly to give you better results. As you’d expect from such a high-end model, it has an intuitive LCD touchscreen, a live feed camera, and auto-leveling. You can also control the camera and view the feed from your cloud account, which makes it even more convenient to use.
If you’re new to 3D printing and want to start with something that’s easy to use and simple at the same time, we highly recommend this Dremel 3D printer. There are multiple reasons that make this the perfect midrange 3D printer for beginners. For starters, this 3D printer comes completely assembled out of the box. So, you won’t have to assemble anything. This is the closes you’ll get to a plug-and-play 3D printer, which is great if you’re not the tinkering type. Another thing that makes this 3D printer beginner-friendly is the safety features. Since most beginners won’t know most of the proper precautions when 3D printing, this model is completely enclosed and doesn’t have a heated bed. While not having a heated bed is a downside, it’s actually a good thing here, since it makes the printer much safer to use. Since this is a beginner’s model, it only supports PLA prints. Despite being a beginners’ model, this 3D printer supports the open-source 3D slicer Cura. So, you can any GCODE files you want.
There plenty of reasons why this is one of the best 3D printers for cosplay. First of all, it’s a multipurpose machine that works well in different 3D printing scenarios. Asides from being a high-resolution printer (100-500 micron), this printer supports multiple filament types. So, you have more options when printing your 3D printing cosplay props and armor parts. The printer has 2 extruders, one that supports materials like PLA, ABS, TPU, and the other supports more advanced materials. This includes Nylon, Carbo Fiber, and PC. The QIDI slicing software is another thing we like about this printer. The interface is super-intuitive and is a decent alternative for other paid slicing software. To make the printing process even more stable, this model has a double z-axis driver, instead of the single-axis that’s found in most 3D printers.
Despite being a budget-friendly option, this model has a very sturdy build and produces decent quality models. This is especially true for smaller props. If that’s what you plan on using your 3D printer for, this model is more than enough. One thing you need to pay attention to with this 3D printer is the assembly process. We don’t mean that the assembly is difficult or anything. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. However, you need to make sure you assemble the parts and level the printing plate properly. Since it doesn’t have automatic calibration, the process can be a little bit tricky. Once you’re done with that, you’ll have a 3D printer that provides decent quality prints without breaking the bank. The only downside of the Comgrow Creality Ender is its relatively small size, which doesn’t work well with large armor parts.
What’s special about the FlashForge Finder 3D printer is that it has some midrange model features, despite being an entry-level printer. For example, you get WiFi connectivity and a slide-in build plate, which is great at this price point. Another thing that we like about this 3D printer is that it doesn’t require any major assembly. This is one of many things that FlashForge did to ensure that this model is as beginner-friendly as possible. To make it even more suitable for beginners, it has an assisted leveling system for adjusting the build plate. This model has a super-quiet design that produces only 50 decibels of sound during printing. The quiet design makes this a great model to own in your own room. If you start a long print and go to sleep, you’ll never be annoyed by the printing sound. If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly 3D printer in the midrange category, we highly recommend this model.
This is a 3D printer for cosplayers who are looking for something that’s both practical and cost-efficient. Using this 3D printer, you can 3D print 12.2×12.2×16.1 inch models, which is pretty decent for a printer in this price range. Having a heated bed means that this model can support a wider range of filament types. This makes this 3D printer suitable for printing different types of cosplay parts with different physical properties. Despite the printing volume it supports, this 3D printer has a space-efficient design. This makes it great when used in smaller workspaces where every inch matters. Even though you have to assemble this model yourself, the assembly process is pretty straightforward. With this price tag, this model is hands down one of the best 3D printers for cosplay in the budget category.