A decade ago, 3D printers resembled something that would only be seen in a high-tech spy lab. Today, they're much more accessible, affordable, and versatile. If you have, or are considering getting, a 3D printer, you might have a few ideas of what to make with it, but the options are literally endless so dream big and have fun with it.
1. Household Goods and Gifts
If you’ve seen a plastic, ceramic, or metal version of it, you can likely make it with a 3D printer. Lamp shades, vases, flower pots, chip/bag clips, and candle holders are just a few ideas. Even with those, the design options are limitless. For example, a plant holder could be wall-mounted, have it’s own stand for desktop use, include a water reservoir, or be part of a larger hydronic system.
When it comes to gift giving to the younger set, you could reproduce a child’s favorite character in the form of a figurine, crank out your own version of Lego, or model a spaceship or vehicle, adding electronics if you’re so inclined.
Every room in the house can benefit from your 3D printer in the form of a more organized space. You can print drawer organizers to customize your specific needs. That’s useful for your office desk, silverware drawer, bathroom, and even the dreaded junk drawer (assuming you only have one).
You can also print hangers and hooks to hold mugs, measuring cups and spoons, your hair dryer and curling wand, keys, or coats.
One of the best features about 3D printers is the ability to make exactly what you need. Skip the craft store and online shopping looking for the perfect paint brush organizer. Print one instead. Create a tote that holds your craft supplies in an organized and easily accessible way. Place crochet hooks, SD cards, pencils, and Xacto knives in sectioned organizers too.
3. Office Supplies
In addition to the desk organizer inside the drawer, print a unique writing utensil holder, and create some cable wraps to reign in the cords and cables surrounding your feet. Speaking of electronics, print out some ‘feet’ for your laptop to elevate it off the desk for better airflow. Similarly, print stands for your phone and tablet. If you do a lot of writing, print pen and pencil grips. You can also make rulers or even a business card holder.
There might be nothing more rewarding than using your 3D printer as a tool to make other tools. The list here is never-ending. You can make something as simple as a screwdriver handle or more complex like a vice. Design your own sanding block, customized to fit your hand. Crank out some clamps for your most-frequently-made projects too. You can even make tool stands and organizers specific to the tasks you perform in the workshop. Make a holder for sockets, drill bits, hardware, or small tools.
5. Replacement Parts
A 3D printer gives you the opportunity to really think outside the box. When something breaks or you lose a part, consider whether you can make a replacement part yourself. Buckles, washers, a piece to a model, and even a hair comb can be produced from scratch, right from your living room.
6. Random Bits
The ability to print products at home means your imagination is the only thing holding you back. Need a padlock? Print one. How about a face mask? We know those are a daily must-have currently. Tired of misplacing your sunglasses in the car? Print a holder that attaches to your visor.
Make game night easier by printing a poker chip holder. While you’re at it, make a card shuffler. You can also make a card holder to prevent tired hands during play.
When the plant droops in your bedroom or the garden, print out a support rod or clamp. Put a stop to batteries rolling around in the drawer with a battery case. Untangle the earbud struggle with a holder for storage.
Where to Find Designs
Once you’re up and running with your 3D printer you’ll be able to create your own designs on a CAD program or with the smart technology included with your printer (some can scan an item and recreate it). If you’re not ready for the design portion, scan the internet for ideas and design files. Also join a local or virtual group with similar interests who can help you out when you have questions.