Best 3D Printer for Cosplay Armor & Props (2022 Update)

Have you ever taken hours to create your own cosplay prop with cardstock and a mix of fiberglass and resin? Or used wood glue to piece your cosplay armor together? 

Well I have too

While fun it is very time-intensive and needs a little bit of DIY ingenuity.

Now, there’s a more efficient way to create your next costume and props. Enter the 3D printer!

3d printed cosplay helmets

While any 3D printer will get the job done there are specific considerations for printing cosplay costumes and accessories that’ll guarantee your costume design turns into reality.

After more than 10 hours of tinkering and research let’s take a look at some of the best 3D printers for cosplay

FDM 3D Printers:

3D Printer Type: FDM | Materials: PLA, TPU, ABS, Wood, Carbon Fiber & Copper | Build Volume: 300 x 300 x 400 mm | Layer Resolution: 400 microns | Filament Diameter: 1.75 mm |Print Speed: 200 mm/s

Creality always has a printer in the running whenever you’re looking at DIY options. Cosplaying is no exception. Although it’s marketed as a 3D printer kit, the Creality CR-10S comes mostly pre-assembled.

This is a budget-friendly 3D printer for cosplay with a lot of punch. Let’s address the elephant in the room. This 3D printer’s build volume is so massive you could probably print an elephant on it!

The only issue is you’re selling build volume for resolution. While the print resolution is good, not great, this doesn’t matter if you’re just 3D printing large items and don’t care about how smooth the final product is. Keep in mind, you can always sand a cosplay piece to make it look more rounded.

The next thing to keep in mind is how fast this 3D printer is. In fact, it’s one of the fastest in its space. A must-have because cosplay helmets take at least 1-2 days to print.

If you are looking to print big items quickly and don’t care about the smoothness, take a closer look at the CR-10S.

Also, speaking from experience, keep in mind that Creality printers usually have some stubborn traits. Bed leveling and bed adhesion can be a problem, and there will be some troubleshooting that goes into the printer. Owning this 3D printer will teach you a lot of 3D printing. If you want a machine that’s easy to use and operate then take a look at our next 3 options below.

Of course, we’re talking about a printer that’s really inexpensive. If they were to design and work out these issues, the price tag would totally go up – so no complaints here!

This machine is the best bang for your buck. You can’t print Iron Man helmets and sword props to your hearts content. It has the largest print volume and is our choice for the best value 3D printer for cosplay.

Pros

Cons

3D Printer Type: FDM | Materials: PLA, PETG, ASA, ABS, PC, HIPS, Flex, Nylon, Carbon filled & Woodfill | Build Volume: 250 x 210 x 200 mm | Layer Resolution: 50 microns | Filament Diameter: 1.75 mm | Print Speed: 100 mm/s

This is arguably the best 3D printer period. If you’re new to 3D printing for cosplay then this is the machine to get. The Prusa 3D printing community is one of the largest and most helpful with dedicated forums to go to for sharing ideas and the rare case of technical issues. Rare because Prusa printers are built to last.

The folks at Prusa funnel their time and money into making a clean, reliable, and powerful machine. In 2016, Prusa i3 was the most used 3D printer in the worldYes, you read that right. Their machine has a ton of knock-off brands, and even more companies who use the i3 as the skeleton for their own 3D printer.

A printer that the entire world loves and competitors want to emulate? What makes it so special?

It has great print detail and one of the faster print speeds on this list. When it comes to cosplay this is a dream come true. That said, you’re looking at a smaller build volume compared to the CR-10S. So make sure you measure out the cosplay pieces you want to create.

Prusa is also integrated into a slicing program called Slic3r. For people unfamiliar with this jargon, it means that Prusa is driving a Porsche. Slic3r is the best slicing program on the market. This makes printing on the i3 MK3S+ that much easier. When you purchase this machine you can either buy a kit that you assemble, or you can buy a pre-assembled version.

In my experience, it’s necessary to build your own printer at some point if you’re going to be serious about 3D printing. You get intimate knowledge about how the machine works and how to troubleshoot it.

Check out our article for the best DIY 3D printer kits.

When your i3 MK3S+ is assembled and ready to go, you’ll have a robust system with very little that can go wrong. There are no unnecessary components or under-designed pieces. The best part is, the machine is completely open-source. This means if something breaks, you can 3D print a replacement part!

Pros

Cons

3D Printer Type: FDM | Materials: PLA, ECO ABS, PETG & Nylon | Build Volume: 254 x 152 x 170 mm | Layer Resolution: 50-300 microns | Filament Diameter: 1.75 mm | Print Speed: 150 mm/s

Another solid pick for 3D print cosplay is the Dremel Digilab 3D45. Yes, that Dremel. The company that makes the Dremel rotary tool is leading the way in the 21st century with their 3D printer. Its build volume is the smallest on this list, so keep that in mind if you want to tackle big projects.

The design is also fully enclosed and looks pretty futuristic. The fact that it’s enclosed means that you will hold the temperature better, and you can print ABS without the risk of breathing in the fumes.

In fact, it actually has carbon filters for the exhaust air so it’s safe to use in small, unventilated rooms. The big benefit of using this 3D printer is how easy it is. It’s one of the most user-friendly 3D printers for cosplay. It has a camera to monitor your print, a big touch screen, the bed nearly levels itself, and the interface is so smooth. This is one of those printers that you plug in, toy around with for a few minutes, then it’s set.

When you want to make a print, you essentially just hit “go” and leave the room. Yeah, it’s really that easy

If you use one of Dremel’s filaments, the machine will recognize what kind of material it is and automatically change all of the settings. The machine is actually marketed as a classroom 3D printer, so that should tell you how user-friendly and easy-to-use it is. 

If you’re willing to pay a little extra to get rid of the headaches of troubleshooting, look no further. If you want to print larger cosplay props then look at the X-Max.

Pros

Cons

3D Printer Type: FDM | Materials: PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU, Nylon, Carbon Fiber & Polycarbonate | Build Volume: 300 x 250 x 300 mm | Layer Resolution: 100 microns | Filament Diameter: 1.75 mm | Print Speed: 50 mm/s

Little-known 3D printer company QIDI TECH hit a home run with this 3D printer, the X-Max. These guys put a lot of effort into R&D and they like challenging the industry and pushing new changes. 

The X-Max has a lot going for it, starting with its badass name. No numbers, not a super long name, not a code for anything. From their “X” series printers, this one pushes it to the max.

The build volume is huge (the 2nd largest build volume in this 3D printer for cosplay list). And the resolution is pretty respectable. For cosplay enthusiasts, this is good news as it means less time spent finishing and touching up prints. 

For around 1 grand you’re getting a super sleek looking enclosed 3D printer for cosplay with futuristic lines. And even if you’re not a fan of totally enclosed printers, this one is pretty easy to “drop the top” to turn it into an open printer. 

What other features does the X-Max have?

The X-Max has a cool 5” touchscreen that makes life easy. 

QIDI Tech X-Max touchscreen - top beginner-friendly 3d printer for cosplay

This 3D printer also allows for WiFi connection. 

That means you can start a print from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a connection to WiFi. This is not a common feature for other printers, and it’s one of the best additions to a printer if you’re lazy like me, or always on the move. 

I mentioned they love new features, this 3D printer was the first that I know of that offers interchangeable extruders and a dual-zone print bed.

One extruder and one-half of the print bed are designed for low-temperature and flexible filaments. The other is designed for high-temperature and abrasive filaments. This is incredible if you like toying around with different filaments

If you have the money to invest this is a bargain 3D printer that can compete with industrial-grade machines

This is the best 3D printer for cosplay for beginners if you want a machine that is easy to use and operate, prints reliably out of the box (after leveling the bed), want to print big, and want the peace of mind of great customer support. 

Pros

Cons

3D Printer Type: FDM | Materials: PLA, ABS, PETG & Flexibles | Build Volume: 260 x 260 x 330 mm | Layer Resolution: 50 microns | Filament Diameter: 1.75 mm | Print Speed: 200 mm/s

You wouldn’t happen to be cosplaying Speed Racer by any chance? Just asking because if you are, here’s a printer that’ll match your character.

FLSUN Super Racer reaches ridiculous print speeds. Its claimed default print speed is 150 mm/s and it can reach up to 200 mm/s.

But so what? Creality CR-10S does that too—you’re not special, Super Racer. You might think that, but compare the resolution.

FLSUN matches Creality in speed but trounces it in print quality. Fast and good-looking, how about that?

Super Racer reaches its high speeds due to its unique (in terms of this list) construction. You’ll notice that this machine doesn’t look like any other printer on this list. 

It uses Delta movement — three robot arms move the print head around, allowing to zip and zoom faster than the usual Cartesian system. The downside of the Delta system is that it makes the machine pretty huge. You’ll probably have to put it on the floor.

You can get to printing quickly, too. Super Racer is fast to build and you can get your cosplay parts printed easily with the touchscreen. As a stroke of genius, FLSUN has magnetized the touchscreen and attached it to a stretchy cable so you won’t have to crouch over the machine.

There are just a couple of things to note. Super Racer has powerful automation features, but some users say they have to carefully tweak the settings to get the high detail this printer is capable of. 

Also, although it has a USB port, older versions didn’t have it enabled by default for some mind-boggling reason. If you buy a printer that’s sat on the shelf for a while, you may have to update the firmware.

But when you feel the need for speed, let FLSUN Super Racer take you for a ride.

Pros

Cons

Resin 3D Printers:

3D Printer Type: LCD | Materials: Compatible with Phrozen and 3rd Party Resins of 405 nm | Build Volume: 330 x 185 x 400 mm | Layer Resolution: 43 microns | Print Speed: 70 mm/h

See that 8K in the printer’s name right there? That stands for the screen resolution of this resin printer. Phrozen Sonic Mega 8K will leave you stunned and phrozen in place with its print resolution.

That’s the thing about resin printers — they can reach levels of detail that filament printers can only dream of. But even in this accurate bunch, Phrozen Sonic Mega 8K stands out.

Without going into too much technical detail, it’s all thanks to that 8K screen. Other resin printers can match Sonic Mega 8K in layer height, but compare the details and Sonic wins.

Usually, you wouldn’t print large parts with resin. They are slow — as is Sonic Mega 8K — and their print volumes are often quite limited. But the great thing about this printer is that it has one of the largest print volumes on this list.

Sonic Mega 8K doesn’t quite match Creality’s total volume, but it’s still big enough to print entire face masks in one piece. Turn yourself into Iron Man, Batman, Uchiha Obito… Heck, any masked character in stunning detail.

Sonic Mega 8K prints fast for a resin printer. That said, you should still start your prints way ahead of the con date, though. A full plate can take more than 12 hours to finish. I’m not faulting the machine for that, really — it’s just the nature of the beast with resin printers.

Additionally, you’ll have to pay a lot for the print quality. This is the single most expensive printer on this list. It’s also absolutely massive, so you won’t be keeping it on a small desk.

But if you have deep pockets and take cosplay — or even cos-business — seriously, you can’t do much better than this.

Pros

Cons

3D Printer Type:LCD | Materials: 405nm UV Resin | Build Volume: 129 x 80 x 160 mm | Layer Resolution: 50 microns | Print Speed: 30-50 mm/h

If you’ve paid any attention to 3D printers at all, you’ve probably heard of Elegoo. The brand is famous for a reason. Its printers offer good quality at a great value, and Mars 2 Pro is no different.

This resin printer, clad in a devilishly red enclosure, uses a monochrome LCD screen — like most budget resin printers. In short, this tech gives Mars 2 Pro a respectable detail quality. It can’t (unsurprisingly) match the absolute beast that is the Phrozen Sonic Mega 8K, but it’s still very good.

Mars 2 Pro makes tweaking the settings easy, as well. It has a clear 3.5” touchscreen and its automation tools, powered by ChiTuBox, greatly reduce the effort you need to sink into your prints.

It also works pretty much straight out of the box. If you’re after a printer you won’t have to mess around with too much, Mars 2 Pro is a good candidate.

But you will need to put in some effort for the best quality. Although the automated settings can produce decent results, you’ll have to tweak them manually to get the most out of the machine. Even then, it can be a bit temperamental.

Additionally, Mars 2 Pro has the tiniest print volume out of any machine on this list. If you want to print bigger objects, you’ll have to figure out a way to print them in multiple pieces.

To put things short and sweet, Elegoo Mars 2 Pro is a capable budget resin printer. It’s a good choice for your first machine, or for printing small but detailed props, like jewelry. 

Pros

Cons

3D Printer Type: LCD | Materials: 405nm UV Resin | Build Volume: 192 x 120 x 245 mm | Layer Resolution: 50 microns | Print Speed: 60 mm/h

Anycubic is right up there with Elegoo as some of the most renowned consumer-grade resin printers. The company Photon Mono X is many, many people’s go-to 3D printer.

But why? It’s not as cheap as the Elegoo and doesn’t match the Phrozen in resolution. What does Photon Mono X have going for it?

Simple detail quality is what.

Sure, the Phrozen has a higher resolution, but that’s not everything. Photon Mono X produces high-quality prints that will serve your cosplay needs perfectly.

That great quality is in part thanks to the dual liner rails for the Z-axis. The dual rails make the print bed very stable and significantly reduce the risk of print errors due to shaking.

It’s also quite fast, for a resin printer. It doesn’t compete with filament printers, but Photon Mono X can be twice as fast as the Elegoo. 

It’s a relative speed demon. Einstein would be impressed.

Photon Mono X has a large-ish print volume, so you can print fairly big props in one piece. Last but not least, you can monitor the thing remotely over the Wi-Fi with your phone. How handy is that?

So, it makes great prints, is pretty fast, and easy to use. What’s the catch?

Well, the machine is kind of pricey for what it is. It also only reads .PWMX files, so you’ll have to convert every file with Photon Workshop before printing. 

Bed leveling also requires you to loosen some screws. It’s not difficult to do, but it does make me miss fully automated leveling.

Photon Mono X is a great choice for a more premium printer. When detail quality and large print size are what matters, go for Photon.

Pros

Cons

Why 3D Print for Cosplay?

Source: Youtube Frankly Built

Without a machine shop or a woodshop, how are you supposed to put together a cosplay? Makeup, an outfit, and some foam can only get you so far. People have started to catch on that 3D printing for cosplay is a great choice for this area. 

But why? 

Cosplay is all about dressing and acting the part. You want to feel like the character you’re portraying. Have you ever realized that when you’re dressed like a businessperson you feel like a businessperson?

So how do you dress like Bucky, the Winter Soldier? You just take off your arm and get a hold of a nifty cybernetic prosthetic, right? 

Well, that’s one option. The other option is 3D printing.

3D printing is great for cosplaying because there’s so much flexibility with what you can print. Different colors, different materials, not to mention different geometries. The basics of 3D printing have always been if you can design it and your printer is big enough, you can make it. 

But not every 3D printer for cosplay is made alike. 

Let’s take a look at what features matter when you’re picking the best 3D printer for cosplay and armor making.

Features to Consider for a 3D Printer for Cosplay

3D printers have about a hundred different features you can focus on. Through trial and error, I learned which ones are important for different projects. For cosplaying, there are two really important features:

  1. Build volume, and
  2. Resolution

There are also a dozen other features that are going to come in handy. Let’s take a look at what I mean.

Build Volume

The build volume of a 3D printer is how big of a part you can print. In other words, what’s the biggest cuboid (3D rectangle) you can print? 3D printer companies are polite, though. They realize we aren’t all math whizzes, so they give us the build volume in 3 dimensions.

A printer’s spec sheet might read something like “Build volume: 10 inches x 8 inches x 6 inches”. If you’re following along at home, this means you can print a cuboid that’s 10 inches wide, 8 inches long, and 6 inches tall. That’s the biggest shape.

If you want to print a part that’s 11 x 10 x 10, then this printer will not work for you. Of course, there are ways to design around this constraint, but let’s not overcomplicate things, okay? 

To recap; the best feature of your 3D printer for cosplay? Your printer’s build volume needs to be big enough to print the part you want. Your Winter Soldier cosplay might wind up looking like a T-Rex if your printer is undersized.

Resolution

The next most important 3D printer feature for cosplaying is resolution.

Now, this concept is more technical but let’s keep it simple. 3D printers have a specific resolution. Compare this to the resolution of a picture you might see online. We can all agree that a 480p picture looks a lot different than a 4K picture.

Just like the pixels in that picture, a 3D printer has limits to its resolution.

A 3D printer with high resolution can print a beautifully rounded sphere. A 3D printer with low resolution will print a sphere that looks like it came from Minecraft

For more professional-looking cosplays, you’re going to want to lean towards the higher-resolution printers. They will create more rounded and realistic-looking shapes and curves. This matters a lot. I mean, unless you’re cosplaying as a Creeper, I guess.

The problem with high resolution? 

High sticker price. Of course. 

But the difference between high and low printer resolution is the difference between a Groot cosplay and a Plank cosplay. There’s a bit of a balancing act to find a 3D printer for cosplay with a quality resolution at a reasonable price. Don’t worry, we cover this in our product reviews.

Filament Types

There are a ton of different types of filaments you can use on a 3D printer. 

For reference, “filament” is another word for the type of material you can print with

Common filaments are PLA, ABS, and Nylon – but there are so many more! Did you know there’s a wood-grain PLA filament that actually looks like wood when the print is finished? Imagine how your Groot cosplay will look when you use that bad boy.

Groot - 3d printer for cosplay image 2

There’s also a glow-in-the-dark line of filaments that would be great for a Cheshire Cat cosplay. Or carbon-fiber-infused filaments for your Genji cosplay. You can start to imagine all the different options as you scroll through a list of filament types.

The problem is that some 3D printers for cosplay can’t print certain filament types. It all comes down to how hot the hot end, or extruder, can get. A higher max temp for an extruder means you can print more types of filaments. If your printer limits the type of filaments you can use, it also limits the types of cosplay you can perform.

Ease of Use

The last consideration is how easy the printer is to use. This is a little harder to quantify and the specs won’t tell you a good story of how easy it is to use the printer. You can learn more about how easy a printer is to use by talking to people who own the printer, reading reviews online, or using the printer on your own.

Ultimately, you want a 3D printer for cosplay that’s easy to use so you’re not spending unnecessary time troubleshooting and fixing the printer.

3D Print Stunning Cosplay Outfits and Armor

Source: Youtube Adam Savage’s Tested

3D printing is probably the best thing that’s happened to the cosplay scene in years. Any of the machines on this list let you easily make props, decorations, and costumes that in ancient times (read: the early 2000s) would’ve taken hours upon hours of manual work.

But you do need to do some research and learning before you can use 3D printers with ease. Let’s take a look at some of the common questions that many cosplayers ask when they first start looking at 3D printers.

PLA VS ABS — Which Filament to Use for Cosplay?

The wide variety of 3D printing filaments is both a blessing and a curse. You can find something for any purpose, but how do you choose the one that works for you?

PLA and ABS are the most common filaments cosplayers use to 3D print props. But the two are not interchangeable. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, as the below handy table shows:

PLA

ABS

Easy to print

Can be tricky to print well

Strong and stiff

Durable and lightweight

Cracks easily on impact

Decent impact resistance

Limited post-processing options

Supports more intricate post-processing

As you can see, PLA is simpler to print and is strong and stiff — until it hits something and cracks. ABS needs a higher printing temperature and is in general more challenging to work with, but it’s a bit more industrial-grade in that it can take a bit of a punch.

So, what’s the bottom line here?

If you’re looking to quickly and easily print props or items that you know won’t take much abuse, go for PLA. But if you need something that’s lighter to carry and may bump into walls, tables, or people, put in the effort to print it in ABS.

Are Resin Printers Good for Cosplay?

Source: Youtube Uncle Jessy

On this updated list, you’ll find a few resin printers. But what are resin printers? And are they any good for cosplay?

The unhelpful answer is yes and no. Whether a resin printer works for you depends on what you want to print.

Filament printers extrude molten plastic onto the print bed in layers. Resin printers, on the other hand, cure liquid resin into solid objects by exposing it to UV light. These basic operational differences lead to very different use cases.

Resin prints can be much, much more detailed than filament prints. Even a cheap and, frankly, lousy resin printer can probably make more detailed and smoother prints than a professional filament machine.

But you’ll have to pay for that quality. Resin printers and materials are generally more expensive than filaments. 

Resin printers also often have small print volumes, so they can’t create big objects in one piece. Additionally, resin parts made with consumer-level materials are very brittle and break easily.

In short, resin printers are good for cosplay, as long as you use them right. They’re a fantastic choice when you’re looking to make small, intricate props, like jewelry, gadgets, or clothing details.

Where to Find 3D Files?

To 3D print anything, you need a 3D model to print. But where do you get those things?

The first option would be to make them yourself. There are plenty of free 3D modeling programs out there — like Blender — that allow anyone to start modeling. Sure, it’ll take some practice, but you can make anything you want.

But you don’t have to become a 3D modeler. Many online repositories offer practically any 3D model you could ever need for your cosplay needs. You can find free 3D models, but even the paid ones are usually very affordable.

Some of the most popular websites for cosplay 3D printing models include:

Post-Processing Cosplay 3D Prints

Source: Youtube Frankly Built

So, you got your 3D printer and your model, and you successfully printed the prop. Now, you’re done. Right?

Nope. You still have to post-process your 3D print. But what you have to do depends on the 3D printing technology and what you want from the print.

Filament prints require support structures and often have rough surface textures that you may not want. You’ll have to at least remove the supports and sand and smoothen the surfaces.

With ABS filaments, you might even want to smoothen the surfaces with acetone vapor. Finally, you’ll have to paint the parts.

Resin prints, on the other hand, require more effort. Straight out of the printer, the prints are often still covered in uncured resin. You’ll have to either leave them sitting in the sun for several hours or pop them in a post-curing station. Even then, you should wash them afterward with IPA.

Be careful when handling fresh resin prints. The resins are toxic, so always remember to wear gloves and goggles.

After curing, you still need to remove supports and sand the surfaces. Since resin printers often have limited build volume, you may also need to glue parts together to build the full prop. Only then can you finally paint the props.

Your job isn’t done when your printer finishes. But it’s well worth your time to post-process your prints — the cosplay props and costumes you can make will look absolutely gorgeous.

Conclusion

There’s a lot to think about here. You’re a cosplayer and you want the best 3D printer for cosplay for your own props and costumes. Look at all the choices you have! 

First, you have to consider what size items you’ll be printing. The build volume will limit how big you can go. Your Hulk cosplay won’t be so Incredible if all of the pieces have to be shrunk down to fit your printer.

The next important feature is the resolution. If you’re making a lot of rounded and curved features, you’ll want to go for a printer with a low number for its resolution value. Finally, you’ll want to take a look at how easy the printer is to use, and how many different types of filaments you can print using it. You don’t want to buy a 3D printer for cosplay and realize that it doesn’t print the type of material you want.

Lastly, you also have to make sure the printer fits in your budget. At the end of the day, anyone of these printers is great for 3D printing cosplay, and you’ll be happy with any of the options you pick. 

Pat Nathaniel
Pat Nathaniel
Pat is the editor-in-chief at Printing Atoms. He has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida and wants to spread the word on 3D printing. When he's not writing, he likes to tinker with his Ender 3 Pro, test filament brands, and scuba dive.
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