Aug 23, 2018

3D Printer for Cosplay – What to Consider & Which to Choose

Cosplayers have moved beyond the needle and thread into 3D printing technology, which allows creators to bring their favorite characters to life. Today, creators are using the 3D printing technology to adapt intricate designs from movies and video games. The first step is choosing the right 3D printer, and we're here to help you with that decision.

3D Printing and Cosplay

Melissa Ng’s The Dreamer’s Regalia and Imperator Furiosa’s prosthetic arm are two noteworthy examples of how 3D printing is bringing versatility, accuracy, and quality to the world of cosplay. Let’s not forget Yasu Tano (of hirocreations) who was curious about all the 3D printing fuss, fell in love with the tech, and ended up 3D printing a Fallout power armor: a 7-foot T-60 armor that consumed 54kg of PLA filament and took 140hours to print. The life-sized 422 pieces beauty weighed around 38 – 41kg and earned him recognition in a comic convention.

These are just a few of many other creative artists who are using the 3D printing tech to raise the bar on quality cosplay and craftsmanship. He is among those responsible for the sleek outfits, armor, helmets, and futuristic devices that cosplay fandoms carry to comic conventions.

Choosing the Best 3D Printer for Cosplay

Before purchasing the optimal 3D printer for cosplay, enthusiasts must first identify what it is they want to print. Part of knowing what you want to print is understanding the size of the design, the durability required, and the usage of the print. This makes it easier to decide whether you should go for print volume or resolution, for example. 

Typically, Cosplay requires a large build volume because you will be mostly making pieces to be worn. Your home 3D printer will unlikely accommodate large prints, but it may come in handy when you want to print fine details. Printing a large object on a small build area means you will require more welds, and welds are usually a weak point.

There are tons of 3D printing machines out there that come with a variety of features, but here are the things to put into consideration when picking a 3D printer for cosplay:

  • Type of Filament – In most instances, you will find yourself wanting to print with different filament colors and types to achieve the diverse characteristics of your cosplay. You will want your prints to be durable and be more realistic, and that means printing with exotic filaments and doing some post-processing as well. Characters in the Sci-Fi genre, for example, may require the use of more exotic materials like ceramics, metal, and wood, beyond the usual materials like PLA and ABS. For the shields and swords, you may want to consider materials like PCT and PCL. Metallic filaments will be best suited for your metallic finishes or glowing features.
  • Build Volume – Build volume is the capacity or size of the platform where you will be printing your cosplay. It is one of the most crucial features for a 3D printer for cosplay because you are mostly creating wearable objects. Therefore, you will need a relatively large build space for most of your costumes or props. The goal is to always go for a volume that can accommodate your print. A large print volume will allow you to print your cosplay in fewer parts, and fewer parts mean that your object will have fewer weak points.
  • Easy Usage– While a 3D printer may seem complicated when used for the very first time, it becomes easier to operate with time and experience. Understanding the software and other mechanical features is part and parcel of the learning process. Still, the first few days with your 3D printer can become a daunting task. Therefore, if you don’t have 3D printing or maker experience already, you probably want a 3D printer that comes assembled so that you can avoid assembling it from scratch. Many people want to attach a spool of filament and start printing within a matter of minutes. But more importantly, you also want to easily keep track of and control all the parameters that are responsible for the printing process. These may include temperature, print speed, and filament consumption.
  • Technical Features – The most important technical features that you should think about when looking for a 3D printer for cosplay are print resolution and print speed. You may also want to consider an auto-leveling print bed to enhance and simplify the overall printing process. Lastly, the 3D printer’s maximum nozzle and bed temperature is also a critical part of what materials you will be able to use.   

Picking the Right Printer

Now that we’ve covered the most important factors that a cosplayer should look for in a 3D printer, let’s look at some of the best 3D printers for cosplayers on the market. 

Note: We will split the printers into two categories: Affordable (below $1000) and Professional (over $1,000).

Let’s start with affordable:

Affordable: Original Prusa i3 MK2S

The Original Prusa i3 MK2S is a bang for the back considering its technical features. The printer has a large community and is an excellent entry-level machine for beginners. 3D printing hobbyists find it a reliable printer that edges out some of the expensive 3D printers for cosplay in the market.

Important Specs:

  • Build Volume: 250 x 210 x 200 mm
  • Layer Resolution: 50 Microns
  • Print Speed: 100 mm/s
  • Filaments: PET, ABS, Nylon, PLA, PET, T-Glase, Laywood, HIPS, particle-filled filaments, and many more
  • High and consistent print quality
  • Heated bed with even temperature distribution mechanism
  • E3D v6. 1 hotend that gives the printer the capability to print several materials
  • Comes with a bed probe dubbed the P.I.N.D.A for automatic bed auto-leveling
  • LCD screen for the filament loading/unloading and calibration routines
  • Driven by Ultimachine Mini Rambo that ensures reliable components

Original Prusa i3 MK2S

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Affordable: Monoprice Maker Select PLUS

The MonoPrice Maker Select PLUS is affordable and shares several characteristics with the Anycubic i3 Mega. It will print any 3D filament after you assemble it using only six screws. It does not require advanced knowledge when assembling, unlike other kit-based printers.

Important Specs:

  • Build Volume: 200 x 200 x 180 mm
  • Layer Resolution: 100 microns
  • Print Speed: 150mm/s
  • Filaments: Almost any type of filament
  • Direct drive extruder
  • Touchscreen interface
  • Improved Anti-Jam MK10 extruder

Monoprice Maker Select Plus

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Affordable: Creality CR-10S

The Creality CR-10S prints with more than 30 filament types and will give you the versatility that you require for your projects. The printer will mostly come pre-assembled and has a filament runout sensor installed to pause your print in case your filament runs out. The parts have been ramped up compared to the Creality CR-10. Its price is fair for its print volume, and it has a large community that is supportive.

Important Specs:

  • Build Volume: 300 x 300 x 400mm
  • Layer Resolution: 1-0.4mm
  • Print Speed: 80-200mm/s
  • Filaments: PETG, PLA, TPU, ABS, and other special filaments
  • Heated glass bed to add beauty to your Cosplay projects and to eliminate warping
  • MOSFET for electrical safety
  • Removable glass bed for you want to “pluck” your print off the bed
  • Auto-resume feature in case there is a power failure

Creality CR-10S

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Affordable: Wanhao Duplicator i3 PLUS

The Wanhao Duplicator i3 PLUS is easy to work with and powerful enough to be used by both amateurs and professionals. The printer comes with a customized version of CURA and can still work with other slicing software like MatterControl or Simplify3D. This Wanhao printer is a leap forward from the earlier versions and has all the qualifications of a 3D printer for cosplay.

Important Specs:

  • Build Volume: 200 X 200 X 180mm
  • Layer Resolution: 0;1 mm – 0;4 mm
  • Print Speed: 10-100mm/s
  • Filaments: PLA, ABS, carbon fiber, NinjaFlex and many more
  • Touch display for easy control and overview of the status
  • Steel frame and an integrated electronics cabinet
  • Heated print bed with a custom adhesive sheet that makes it easier to remove finished prints

Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus

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Affordable: ROBO R1+

The ROBO R1+ is a plug and play 3D printer that stands out for its ease of use and excellent performance. In addition to printing quickly and accurately, the printer is affordable and can be used by almost any open-source software and a range of materials. The ROBO R1+ comes with a customized version of MatterControl to ensure you get the most out of your machine.

Important Specs:

  • Build Volume: 254 x 228 x 203
  • Layer Resolution: 100-300 microns
  • Print Speed: 50 mm/s
  • Filaments: Nylons, ABS, PLA, metal-filled PLA, PET-G, Carbon Fiber Nylon, Magnetic Iron, PVA, HIPS, Polycarbonate, Glass Filled PLA, and many others
  • Auto-leveling and calibration to ensure you spend more time printing than adjusting your print bed
  • All metal hot-end
  • Can be easily upgraded or modified
  • Improved filament feeding system

Robo R1+

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Affordable: Dremel Digilab 3D20 (Idea Builder 3D20)

The Dremel Digilab 3D20 is user-friendly and gives you full functionality right out of the box. It has “proprietary” technology and may not be modified to your liking, but it guarantees consistent results and is surprisingly quiet.

Important Specs:

  • Build Volume: 230 mm x 150 mm x 140 mm
  • Layer Resolution: 100 microns
  • Print Speed: N/A
  • Filaments: Requires proprietary filament to ensure impure filaments are not used. Therefore, uses Dremel PLA filaments
  • Interactive LCD screen that enables you to monitor the printing in real time
  • No need for troubleshooting, calibration, or modifications
  • Closable door to keep out dust and stabilize the interior printing temperature

Dremel Idea Builder

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Professional: Ultimaker 2 Extended+

The Ultimaker 2 Extended+ is one of the simplest and dependable printers to operate. Even a novice can commence printing expert parts with this machine just minutes after unboxing.

Important Specs:

  • Build Volume: 223 x 223 x 305 mm
  • Layer Resolution: Up to 20 microns
  • Print Speed: 300mm/s – 300 mm/s
  • Filaments: PLA, ABS, CPE
  • Heated bed enables printing with several materials
  • Swappable nozzles that allow the user to swap between four different nozzles ranging from 0.25-0.8mm
  • Allows for temperature and speed adjustments
  • Geared feeder to quickly swap filament while choosing the correct pressure for your filament
  • Optimized Airflow to increase the flow of air below the nozzle
  • Uses thicker filament (0.3mm instead of the usual 1.75mm)
  • Well-lit interior aided by LEDs

Ultimaker 2+

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Professional: gCreate gMax 1.5 XT+

The skyscraper-like gmax 1.5 XT+ is featured among ALL3DP’s best large 3D printers of the 2018 summer because of its enormous build volume. The printer is made using high-quality metal components and is compatible with Simplify 3D, Cura, and other opensource slicing software. This printer is attractive to cosplayers because it also has a Facebook community that is constantly discussing cosplay props; so, you are assured of getting constant community support.

Important Specs:

  • Build Volume: 406 x 406 x 533 mm
  • Layer Resolution: 80 – 400 Microns
  • Print Speed: N/A
  • Filaments: PLA, carbon fiber, CPE, PLA, ABS, HIPS, PETG, exotics, TPU, PolyFlex, and many more
  • Auto-leveling bed
  • Anodized aluminum frame that improves durability and sturdiness
  • Works with all E3D replacement nozzles (0.25mm – 0.8mm)

gCreate gMax 1.5 XT+

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Professional: LulzBot Taz 6

In addition to its generous print volume, the LulzBot Taz 6 is easy to use and highly accurate. The printer is easy to set up and has a reliable and consistent printing performance. If you’re looking for a workhorse 3D printer that will print out armor from sunrise to sundown, the Taz 6 will get the job done.

Important Specs:

  • Build Volume: 280mm x 280mm x 250mm
  • Layer Resolution: 50-500 microns
  • Print Speed: 200mm/sec
  • Filaments: more than 30 filaments
  • Comes with an auto-leveling bed and a self-cleaning nozzle
  • Modular tool head design (like the Flexystruder) for multi-material upgrades and flexibility
  • Open source and hackable
  • Heated PEI bed
  • Solid and sturdy design
  • Dual Extruder and FlexyDually tool for multi-color material 3D printing

LulzBot TAZ 6

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Professional: Ultimaker S5

The Ultimaker S5 has the largest build volume in the Ultimaker family. Its ideal for small businesses and professionals because of its ease of use and its capability to deliver industrial-grade parts, over and over and over.

Important Specs:

  • Build Volume: 330 x 240 x 300 mm
  • Layer Resolution: [0.8 mm nozzle: 600 – 20 micron],[0.4 mm nozzle: 200 – 20 micron], [0.25 mm nozzle: 150 – 60 micron]
  • Print Speed: > 24 mm³/s
  • Filaments: PLA, TPU, PVA, PP, Exotics, ABS, PC, CPE+, Nylon, etc
  • Enclosed to ensure the internal temperature and airflow are optimal
  • Ultra-light print head due to the Bowden extrusion system
  • Swappable print cores
  • Self-leveling heated print bed
  • Double extrusion to allow for multiple-color prints
  • Frame lights for better visuals
  • Filament sensor to pause prints when your filament is over or is nearing completion
  • Tight filament path to ensure smooth printing when using flexible filaments like TPU 95A
  • Intuitive full-color touchscreen to monitor the status of your prints (build plate, print cores, nozzle temperature, loaded materials, etc.) Eleven languages are supported including German, Japanese, Chinese, English, and Korean.
  • Compatible with the Ultimaker app for when you want to manage or monitor prints

Ultimaker S5

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Professional: Raise3D Pro2 Plus

With the Raise3D Pro2 Plus, you get plenty of room to work on the Z-axis. The fully enclosed printer comes with an enhanced motherboard that maintains high-speeds while allowing for accuracy. The motherboard and  frame are manufactured using industrial grade components, making this printer as professional as they get.

Important Specs:

  • Build Volume: 305x305x605
  • Layer Resolution: 10 – 250 Microns
  • Print Speed: 30-150 mm/s
  • Filaments: FLEX, HIPS, PETG, PLA, TPE, TPU, ABS, Wood filled, PP, Nylon, PC, etc
  • Dual extrusion for intricate projects that require multi-material prints
  • 7-inch touchscreen
  • Power loss resuming feature for resuming prints after a power outage
  • High-strength Aluminum frame for durability
  • Filament run-out sensor
  • New cooling fan with a HEPA filter that absorbs more than 91% of particles
  • A unique motion system for superior resolution and part quality
  • Self-leveling heated build plate with magnetic holding
  • Live camera for print monitoring

Raise3D Pro2 Plus

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Professional: BCN3D Sigmax

The BCN3D Sigmax is a powerful dual extrusion printer that combines the IDEX, mirror, and duplication features to boost productivity. This is one of the most versatile printers in the market that perfectly qualifies as a 3D printer for cosplay because it is reliable for big complex parts and offers dual extrusion capabilities.

 Important Specs:

  • Build Volume: 420x297x210
  • Layer Resolution: 50 – 500 Microns
  • Print Speed: N/A
  • Filaments: HIPS, PLA, PVA, ABS, CF, Exotics, etc
  • Independent Dual Extruder (IDEX) system
  • Duplication mode that allows one to print the same model using both tool heads
  • Mirror mode allows printing one model and its symmetrical simultaneously
  • Interchangeable tool heads that enhance versatility and can use advanced and technical abrasive materials
  • The extruders use the high-tech Dual Drive Gears and are reliable with most filaments
  • New software called the BCN3D-Cura that is easy-to-use with its intuitive user interface and optimized workflow.

BCN3D Sigmax

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License: The text of "3D Printer for Cosplay – What to Consider & Which to Choose" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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