Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review for Miniature Printers & Painters

Last Updated on August 30, 2022 by FauxHammer

You may have noticed a slight change in gears recently on fewer Warhammer reviews and more focus on other brands. Why? Simple: those companies are supporting us with review copies of things, so we cover them.

The other change is a bigger focus on 3D printing. Again, why? Again, simple: the site has always been driven by what inspires us – and that’s cool minis. Whilst Games Workshop will always be our first love, the ease with which we can now get our hands on high-quality, super-cool miniatures is opening up globally thanks to 3D printing and all of the world’s model creators. And as of right now, there’s no way to get higher quality miniatures than with the Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k. Come read our review.

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Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review – Introduction

The Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k is capable of unrivalled results at the present time|. To show you just how good it is, I’ve partnered with almost all of the top miniature STL creators out there and printed a selection of each of their ranges. So, unlike my previous printer review where I printed some “probably naughty” Warhammer models, this time I’ve printed directly comparable models without any risk of IP breaches.

Oh, and for any other Warhammer fans here, what do you think of 3D printing? Is it a threat to Games Workshop? If so, in what way? Let me know down in the comments.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review - Redmakers

Since this printer is capable of arguably the best quality out there, what’s the problem?

Well, there are a few. Thankfully, due to the painstaking trials I’ve gone through, along with the concerns I’ve had, not only will I show you the problems here, I’ll show you some simple solutions to them.

Well, to most of them.

Despite my own journey, some of which is bad luck and the rest is really just general stuff you may normally need to work through with any new 3D printer, I’ll refer back to my original comment in this section. The Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k is capable of unrivalled results in the consumer space.

Phrozen, as always, has made a high-quality (which they are known for) printer at an expensive, but reasonable, price.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review – Summary

The Sonic Mini 8k is an incredible printer, currently the highest quality available in MSLa thanks to its 22µm XY resolution, and coupled with the Phrozen Aqua-Grey 8k Resin, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything that will print smoother minis. Like other Phrozen products, it’s a high-quality offering, with a price tag in line with that.

It’s just not so plug and play however, like with any current 3D printer, there are a few operational hurdles to overcome, especially if this is your first printer. The bed can be a bit of a pain to level, you first few layers can be compressed (these are normally ignorable support layers anyway), third-party slicers can be hit or miss. And, for miniature printers specifically, the 8k resin is a touch on the brittle side.

And make sure you protect the LCD from resin spills and leaks with a homemade screen protector.

But once you get this working, it’s hard to stop printing miniatures. Forget trying to print “Warhammer Quality” models. This printer gives you sculpts that even Forge World would struggle to put out.

It’s that good!

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review – Technical Specifications

Here are the boring basic numbers and things you may want to know about this printer

  • Screen Size: 7.1″
  • Screen Resolution: 7500 x 3240 px
  • Pixel Size: 0.022mm (22 µm)
  • Display Resolution: 1152ppi
  • Build Volume (XYZ): 165 x 720 x 180 mm

The important part to note is the pixel size of only 22 µm. not only is this an 8k printer, but unlike something along the lines of a Mega 8k, those 24,300,000 pixels, are squashed down into an area of only 165x720mm on a 7:1″ LCD (with an odd 2.31:1 aspect ratio).

This is the finest resolution LCD SLA printer currently available in the consumer space.

As for the rest, it weighs 15kg and will take up an area of 290 x 290 x 420mm (WxDxH)

It is capable of printing layers as thin as 0.01mm but please note this will halve its operational life when used over the commonly preferred 0.02mm.

Everything about the build of this printer screams quality, including the SanDisk USB stick provided in lieu of the cheap unbranded one you tend to get with 3d printers – you know, the ones that cause more problems for people than serve their actual function.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review – Video

If you don’t want to read, I cover all of the below (in less detail) in my video review. Yes, the thumbnail is clickbait. Sorry.

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The Best 3D Printers for Miniatures

This article is part of our Best 3D Printers for Miniatures Article.

The Best 3D Printer for Miniatures & Models 2.0 - Featured

To see the full list of 3D printers check out that article.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review – Technical Issues

The following are a selection of issues I had with the printer, and whilst it is not reflective of everyone’s experience, it’s important to take you on the journey I went through as this goes on to infer the quality of Phrozen’s customer support.

Issue one: the bed would not level. This was due to a threaded screw from the factory. I tested this by printing small squares on each corner of the build plate and making sure each would adhere. But I had failures all over the bed at various orientations.

Phrozen replaced this part for me, but in the meantime and to compensate for the issue, I started printing my base layers at incredibly long exposure times (35 seconds or more!) in order to bridge any gaps the unbalanced bed was leaving. Unfortunately, this, coupled with the deeply laser-etched build plate, required me to literally hammer and chisel the prints off my build plate. But some of this need was caused by a Lychee Slicer issue I’ll get onto later.

Undeterred at this point, I continued printing with some awesome loot studio models I’d had my eye on for some time. Despite Loot Studios’ terribly excessive supports. I printed these models to compare the quality with another printer I was reviewing at the same time.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review - Loot Studios Samurai - Mini 8kPhrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review - Loot Studios Samurai - Photon Ultra
Sonic Mini 8k Vs Anycubic Photon Ultra

After only a day of semi-successful prints, and unsuccessful and uneven calibration efforts, I came down one morning to find that my largest print yet had failed halfway through. Worse than this, the LCD was dead! It was physically sound, but I had nothing on the display. That’s my second technical issue.

But, Phrozen’s Printer-specific Facebook group and their support team were great (trust me, their competitor’s support has been abysmal when I’ve contacted them). They diagnosed the screen, sent me replacement parts and the support team even went above and beyond by checking my posts in their Facebook Support Group to make sure they fully understood my challenges! However, they have started being a bit heavy handed when turning off post comments. Posts should wane naturally based on interest guys: what if someone joins today and reads a post from 2 weeks ago that mostly answers a question they have, but they want more info? They have to start a whole new thread to get the info. So, as a request from me, calm down on that guys, please. You may think it’s helping avoid chaff, but it isn’t. I say this owning a group with over 20k members and that’s without having a product directing people to the group.

On the positive side though, a massive shout out to Dennys Wang who is a great ambassador for Phrozen and has provided numerous guides on the printer. He even jumped into a live chat with me to help me diagnose the threaded screw issue I had with my print bed.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review – LCD Replacement

The actual LCD replacement was easy enough, but the black border of tape they send you is very difficult to fit. You could easily crop out a portion of the printable area if it’s not aligned properly. and there’s no way to clearly tell if it is.

It’s also worth noting here – and this is the bit that terrifies me – that unlike other printers which have a solid glass screen above the LCD, in the case of the Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k, the raw LCD panel is what the FEP sits on.

The issue here is that if you get even the slightest amount of resin on the screen (which can happen if you accidentally pierce the LCD mid-print and it cures) your panel is ruined. You can apparently soak it off with isopropanol and sticky tape, but I don’t want to attempt that. Since there’s no LCD protector available, I opted for taping an extra sheet of FEP over the screen (but you can get an A4 Screen protector and cut it down to size. just make sure to get one without UV protection or antiglare).

Please remember that LCDs are classed as consumable parts in 3D printers. At some point you’ll need to replace them anyway, so you’ll need to know how to do this if you want to keep the printer running. I actually ended up on the phone with Luke from Geek Gaming Scenics whilst he was replacing his due to months of non-stop 8k printing at 0.02mm.

Unfortunately, my replacement LCD was DOA. So they then sent me another replacement LCD and mainboard. I need to stress here that they were not doing this because I’m a Phrozen partner – I’m not. I bought this printer with my own money, and again this review and the associated video is in no way sponsored by Phrozen!

On receiving the second replacement, I followed the advice I’d read online to use Kapton tape. This is a very strong tape used in electronics. It is also semi-opaque to help with alignment and it’s really thin, which helps with bed levelling.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review – Print Bed Levelling

Bed levelling, is the first design problem (IMHO) and more than a few people are having this issue in the aforementioned support group.

Now, remember earlier when I said that the build quality of this printer is amazing? I think this may be causing the issue. The upright arms on the print bed are so thick that when you try to level the bed, these inflexible metal parts actually cause the bed to shift as you tighten the screws. A softer metal would have some flex and adhere the bed in place.

Dennys Wang led me to the best solution here. In my case, use 2 sheets of A4 paper, not just 1 (though results may vary depending on how thick your paper is). Then when tightening the screws, only crank them until you feel the initial bite. Finally, do a quarter turn on alternating corners until it’s tight.

The point of bed levelling is to evenly balance the bed whilst leaving a gap with the approximate thickness of your FEP film.

But I’ve also found it’s best to try to evenly press down on the bed as you tighten. This significantly helps if you still have the tick black tape from Phrozen around your LCD as this raises the height too. Too big a gap and you’ll need to compensate by overexposing your base layers.

I’d recommend replacing this with Kapton tape, but if you do, be super careful because you can easily tear the ribbon cable connecting the screen to the main board – which is exactly what I did when replacing my first LCD.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review – Best Exposure Settings

So, now we have a working LCD and a level(ish) bed, we can actually print some things. Yay!

First off, I need to find the best exposure settings for this 8k resin.

The way I like to find the correct exposure is simple: start in Lychee and get an exposure profile for your printer and resin combo (I’m using the Phrozen Aqua 8k resin here) and this will be a great starting point.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review - Redmakers

Then, print Phrozen’s recommended Exposure Finder by Photonsters (Phrozen actually do their own version of this now, it’s the same deal really but takes longer to print at the bits you want are spaced around the centre rather than together at one side).

Once printed, simply count the number of posts and number of holes (don’t worry about any of the other parts yet. If they are equal, that’s a perfect exposure. More posts, it’s over-exposing. More holes and it’s under-exposing. Keep adjusting exposure times up and down in 10ths of a second until you get an equal count of holes and posts.

Also worth knowing: you won’t get the holes being open all the way through as the base layers will cure most of the gap. As you can see at least part of a recess, it counts as a hole.

I found my balance at 1.7 seconds per layer which makes the printing time really fast, even at 0.02mm.

If you find that the fanes on the Photonsters test are tearing away, or the corner textures in the Phrozen test, you could increase light-off delay by a second each time or slow down the lift speed. But by using the Lychee profiles initially, I tend to find these are generally set ok from the start.

Additionally, Phrozen now offers an nFEP product which is stronger, lasts longer and is even meant to reduce the minimum lifting height. This should shave a lot more time off your prints as well.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review – 3D Printing Warhammer Parts

I printed out some shoulder pads and various other bits I’ve been using in my Warhammer Horus Heresy painting videos.

Whilst the Mini 8k XY resolution all but eliminates voxel lines (these are the lines you’ll see on large rounded surfaces) you will still see some layer lines at some angles, even at 0.02mm. Oh, and whilst many people will note that 0.05 is just fine, when it comes to miniatures, I want perfection. Since our pixel size on the XY resolution is approximately 2 microns, I aim for the same on the Z-axis too.

As I’ve shown previously, the smallest layer lines can still be seen on a mini, especially when you are drybrushing or washing.

However, when adding in just the minimal amount of antialiasing, and 2x image blur every single line is eradicated without any perceivable detail loss.

I’ve never seen detail like this. For years now, people have been asking if 3D printers can print Warhammer Quality Miniatures, and with this printer. 3d prints are far beyond anything that Warhammer or Forge World can produce.

But before we get onto the full showcase of miniatures, there are more issues to discuss. First this 8k resin.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review – Aqua Grey 8k Resin.

I’m not going to do full comparison with various other resins here, because it’s already been made clear online that this 8k resin outperforms the Phrozen 4k resin when it comes to detail – and that 4k resin is an absolutely wonderful product. Not only the detail of it, but the feel when a miniature is produced is really nice. Sharp and flexible with a silky finish.

This stuff is much more precise, with a smoother finish. But for miniatures, there’s a big drawback: it’s quite brittle.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some flex to it, but I’ve had so many miniatures that I completed crack when I’ve picked them up days after they were printed. Some people online have complained to me that I have not cured them properly, but I have a selection of cured and uncured minis.

Even when cutting parts off of the supports, I’ve had a few occasions where the parts themselves would just crack and shatter.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review - Bestiarum Miniatures

The issue first came to light when I got the printer back in February. The first few parts I was able to print suffered even more from this issue, but that was due to the time of year.

You see, unlike the numerous YouTube channels that have been reviewing printers for years now, I’m like most hobbyists: my 3D printer is an extension of my hobby and due to fumes etc., it sits in my garage.

So, back in February, the ambient temperature was in the low 10°Cs. To compensate for this I had to increase the exposure time on each layer to almost 3 seconds just to get any success. But this exacerbated the brittle issue.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review - Devourer
Centre Horn has snapped from little more than picking the model up

Long story short, this resin must be at 22 degrees whilst printing – minimum! And there are ways you can do this with with a plant growing tent and heater or a fermentation jar heat band. But without this, printing in winter in the UK (or in similar climates) is almost a no-go. You’ll likely have too many problems.

This is not as doom-and-gloom as I’m making it sound. It’s just that in direct comparison to other reins the community has gotten used to, such as Elegoo Standard, Anycubic Craftsman or even Phrozen’s own Aqua 4k, this is nowhere near as flexible.

But when you have the temperature set, this resin is so detailed. You can just easily heat up the resin in hot water before its final cure, and pull parts of the supports with very little clean-up needed. With finer components, however, you should get in there with a pair of fine clippers to avoid the parts snapping instead of the supports.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review – Slicer Issues

The other issue I had early on was with the thickness of the rafts. and this isn’t Phrozen’s fault at all. I found throughout numerous prints that the base layer was incredibly thick – like 3-5mm thick! I had initially assumed this was due to a gap between the screen and the FEP, but there was no way the gap between my screen and where the bed was set to 0 was 5mm?!

I found the solution when changing the base style in Lychee Slicer. Instead of using the standard base, I changed the style to raft. The intent was to give me a bevelled edge which would help guide my putty knife under the support plate so I could get forms off without needing to use the hammer and chisel method. It was doing this that made me realise that the printer was actually increasing the height of the base layer. In some cases, it was encroaching into the components I was printing.

The solution was simple. I stopped using Lychee and subbed in Chitubox and this issue immediately disappeared. I would still use Lychee to arrange and support my model, but I’d then export that as a single STL, load it up in Chitubox and slice it there. Problem solved.

I seem to be the only person who has had this issue, and I was using the latest version of Lychee and had updated my firmware on the printer. I could take the exact same STL (including supported ones) and when I’d slice it in Lychee, I had this thick base issue, when I sliced in Chitubox it was fine.

No idea what the cause is, but I’d love to know if anyone else has experienced this phenomenon?

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review – Miniature Print Quality Results

This is when I started going a bit print-crazy. I wanted some models to print that I could compare with Warhammer figures, my personal favourite miniature range and the current pinnacle of quality in the retail space. But so I could still make a YouTube video that was not at risk of copyright infringement, I reached out to a load of top miniature creators on My Mini Factory hoping a few would let me print some miniatures. And, well, all but one said: “yeah, here you go, have an army!”

I’ll show you some big prints shortly, but for now here’s a look at a few of these models.

First off a shout out to the following creators (who you should definitely check out).

Where Games Workshop has a very distinct style of large flat surfaces on their plastic miniatures, all of these printed resin models can go that extra mile: matching those smooth flat surfaces where needed, but in the case of textured areas you can see not only muscle definition but also things like pores, pockmarks and general imperfections in skin tone. Wood has even finer grain, and sharp details like spikes can literally stab you.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review - Heretic

To really have a good play with this printed I needed to print something big. So, I reached out to Blackforge Games who sent me their Corrupt Tenjin model pre-release. I’d already fallen in love with and printed the original Tenjin in an earlier review.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review - Tenjin 100 percent scale

Blackforge knocked it out of the park with this corrupt version of the same guy, and this model is so huge that I actually ran out of the 8k resin before I could finish the print, so I still have some wings to go. Whilst we can all agree that this print looks both smooth and crisp (and more importantly absolutely awesome) it’s not fully testing the detail that this printer is capable of.

So, I shrunk the model down to 32mm heroic scale, supported it myself and printed it out.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review - Tenjin 32mm Parts

Just look at this detail. This is far beyond anything that GW or Forge World have ever produced. You can even see the recessed detail on the armour plates and within the beads.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review - Tenjin Face
Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review - Tenjin Sword
Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review - Tenjin Soul Amber
Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review - Tenjin 32mm Complete

Once again to show you that you will not see layer lines, here’s a 3D printed model I painted with nothing but a drybrush. Drybrushing should naturally highlight any layer line or imperfection on a surface.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review - Kingdoms of Talarius Chocobo

Here there’s not a layer line in sight. showing just how perfect this printer is. It’s currently unrivalled in the consumer space.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review – Price and Availability

The mini 8k retails at the advertised $699.99 (USD). For a global breakdown, we’ve done a quick conversion for you below based on today’s exchange rate

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k£595.29$699.99$911.61€701.16$1,013.12

It’s worth noting that this is the price from Phrozen, before shipping, taxes, and additional import duties if necessary.

It’s not a cheap printer by any stretch, but what you pay here gives you an amazing 3D printer from a brand known among the top 3 for their quality before anything else.

Phrozen themselves do frequently have discount sales on, and you can also pick them up from third-party sellers on Amazon, or eBay for example.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review – Final Thoughts

The main benefits I love with many of these models now over Games Workshop are two-fold.

One: in many cases, you can print a ready-built model and just snap it off the supports and it’s ready to paint with minimal clean-up. Two: models can now have voids. Due to the process of casting, big manufacturers of miniatures cannot create recesses on miniatures at some orientations. Think space marine bolters with no barrel hole, that’s the most obvious example. This limitation is present all over your favourite little army people.

Gaps and mould lines are an absolute bane when it comes to miniatures, but with 3d printing, you have none of this. And with the intelligent placement of supports (in all of these cases I’ve used presupported models), you can literally print it, snap it off, cure it, and it’s ready for paint.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review - Ashigaru

And for me, this is the biggest problem with this printer. I’m a die-hard Warhammer fan. Almost every model they produce goes either on my must buy list, or I just buy it there-and-then.

But this 3D printer, coupled with the models created by the designers shown here, has completely distracted me from Warhammer since I started printing with it!

So if you are a Warhammer fan like me, Definitely “do not” buy this printer!

Honestly, this printer is amazing and the 8k resolution in the small but oddly shaped (2.31:1 Aspect Ratio) print area is absolutely unrivalled.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k Review - Heretic Gunner

From this point on, there’s no need to look for innovations in 3D printers with higher resolution than this. I think, going forward, we need to see some ease-of-use innovations – a heated vat, self-filling/emptying vats, Wi-Fi printing and monitoring. These features are available across a variety of printers but they have not become standard in the commercial space.

Whilst resin 3D printing has been around for a good few years now, with this quality level, the battle for who has the highest quality miniatures not only starts here, but it starts here with most of the war already won.

Please Note: This site uses affiliate links. Our Affiliate Partners are shown below
(Affiliate links will result in compensation to the site on qualifying purchases)

Click this link & buy your hobby stuff from Element Games for the UK & Europe to support – Use Code “FAUX2768” at the checkout for double reward points.

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  • FauxHammer

    Self-appointed Editor in chief of - But I need to thank the team for existing and therefore enabling me to give myself role - without them, I'm just a nerd with a computer and a plastic addiction.

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Self-appointed Editor in chief of - But I need to thank the team for existing and therefore enabling me to give myself role - without them, I'm just a nerd with a computer and a plastic addiction.

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