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Posted on November 16, 2022

25 Cool 3D Printing Ideas

In its basic form, 3D printing involves layering materials on top of each other, building a three-dimensional object layer by layer. This is how 3D printing allows us to create complex objects.

Unlike the huge machines in manufacturing facilities, today's desktop 3D printers are compact, affordable, and easy to use. One of the coolest things about 3D-printed items is that they can be customized and take on any shape or form.

You'll be surprised by how many cool 3D printing ideas are out there. It's even possible to turn such ideas into a lucrative business. 

Below, you'll learn more about 3D printers and all the cool things you can do with them.

Photo by Bradley Pelish on Unsplash

3D Printing Explained

The technology dates back to the 1980s when Charles W. Hull invented 3D printing and produced the first 3D-printed object. In short, the technology involves using specialized equipment to create solid, three-dimensional models based on digital data. 

Over the past decade, 3D printing has evolved exponentially, offering countless possibilities.

So far, the technology cannot be used in mass production due to its slow speed. However, the process reduces the time it takes to prototype components, devices, and tools.

It is no secret that 3D printers can produce three-dimensional objects from various types of materials. The 3D printer is becoming increasingly popular and is now available at stores like Best Buy and Home Depot, as well as Amazon.com and other online retailers.

How Does A 3D Printer Work? 

If you know how an inkjet printer works, for example, the one you use to print letters, understanding how a 3D printer works will be no problem.

There's nothing magical about 3D printers; they work much like traditional 2D inkjet printers and create objects through simple layering.

The first step is to create a virtual model of the object. A 3D printer can read this design, with the help of software, like a blueprint.

After the virtual model is created, it must be prepared for printing. This is done through a process known as slicing, in which the model is sliced layer by layer. Slicing involves using special software to cut the models into hundreds or even thousands of tiny, flat layers.

In other words, 3D printing refers to the process of building layers of materials into 3D structures. In essence, it prints by adding material (often plastic) drop by drop. As the 3D printer creates a model, it draws shapes on a flat surface, followed by another.

Essentially, the technology works by adding material (often plastic) drop by drop. As the 3D printer creates a model, it draws shapes on a flat surface, followed by another.

Note that there are many different 3D printers, from desktop models to huge machines that can print houses. Each 3D printer uses a slightly different method and filaments

Different Types of 3D Printers

Similar to traditional printers, 3D printers use different technologies, including:

  • SLA
  • SLS
  • FDM 

Below is a brief summary of each process.

SLA

Resin printing, also known as SLA printing, is almost the reverse of FDM printing. Instead of melting the plastic into a liquid, a UV-reactive liquid that's hardened under the light is used. Each layer is "cured" with a LED array that emits light in a specific pattern.

Resin 3D printers are priced similarly to their FDM counterparts, although the differences between the price points are speed and size rather than quality. 

SLS

Because SLS 3D printers can produce engineered components with excellent mechanical properties and high resolution extremely quickly, they have become the preferred method for producing practical prototypes and end-use parts.

Selective laser sintering - or SLS - uses a laser to fuse plastic powder. In the past, the process was relatively difficult to access due to the high cost and lack of understanding of the technology behind it.

The market for SLS 3D printers has recently opened, offering several desktop models that can integrate additive manufacturing into production processes.

FDM

One of the most widely used methods is fused deposition modeling (FDM), also known as fused filament fabrication (FFF). 

An FDM 3D printer is nothing more than a plotting device. By forcing plastic filament through a hot nozzle, layers can be pressed onto the print surface in a variety of patterns. An FDM printer can also print with different materials.

3D Printing for Professionals & Hobbyists 

The potential of 3D printing is growing, and so is its value: the 3D printing industry is expected to be worth $84 billion by 2029. As a result of this growth, we will soon experience many more 3D-printed objects, like bridges and buildings.

The opportunities offered by 3D printing are of interest to a wide range of people, businesses, and industries, including automotive, aerospace, and medicine. One of the reasons behind the technology’s high favorability is that creating various items is possible using a wide array of materials. Depending on the result you want to achieve, you can use a different material type—for example, fused plastic and UV resin.

25 Creative & Useful 3D Printing Ideas

Many households already have 3D printers in separate rooms or somewhere in the house. How do they use them? Quite creatively. 

Does your child want to buy a new toy? 3D print it out! 

Have a broken door handle? Make a new one with 3D printing 

How about a customized cell phone case? Sure, why not?

Many items can be made with 3D printers, including shoes, household items, resin castings for jewelry, gadgets, repair tools, novelty items, and so on.

It's hard to imagine what you would do if you had a machine that could make so many things. The following 3D printing ideas will help spark your creativity for using 3D printers.

Note: Check BuildTak's high-quality surfaces and removal solutions, as they will come in handy for your next print.

Photo by Roman Synkevych 🇺🇦 on Unsplash

Popular & Cool Items to Print

Whistles: 3D printers can even save lives with their useful projects. For example, a survival whistle is a good pocket accessory. Making this simple object is quick and easy and produces a powerful 118db sound that is perfect for gym class, outdoor activities, and sports.

Camera slider: It might be more expensive to buy a camera slider than to 3D print and assemble it yourself. To make this project work, you should consider how to incorporate a motor, but the result will be a 3D-printed gadget that everyone will enjoy.

Split display: Inspired by the earlier flip displays, this model uses a couple of components in conjunction with a wireless adapter to create a dynamic display in your home or office. Depending on your needs, you can configure it as an alarm clock, to-do list, bulletin board, and more.

Watches/Gears/Clockwork Models: 3D models and statuettes are great pieces for printing and decorating, but they aren't just for stationary toys. There are detailed models of the elements that make up clockwork and electrical structures for those who are more engineering-minded.

Bottle openers: Making a universal bottle opener with your 3D printer is one of the most useful things you can do with it. You can unscrew or open any bottle without much effort, which is particularly useful when screw caps are too tight.

Salt & Pepper shakers: If you're looking for fun 3D-printed items, consider making matching salt and pepper grinders as an addition to your dining table. Such things that you can make with a 3D printer will surprise and delight your household members and guests.

Cool 3D Print Items for Kids

Magic wand: This is the kind of gift that kids will love. You can choose a wand that looks like Harry Potter's or a fairytale wand with a star on the top. Remember that these suggestions aren't the only ones you can use. As for this project, there are many options.

Pencil holder: Keep your desk tidy and add some style at the same time! With these simple 3D printer designs, you can easily create custom desk holders that not only look good but also keep your stuff organized.

Yoyo: A yoyo consists of two connected disks with an axle in between, connected by a thin rope. The process of 3D printing a yoyo is pretty simple. You can even add great lettering to the sides to personalize it. Just find a suitable string, and you're done!

Bookmarks: These cool 3D prints will help your little ones remember what scene they were in when they read their favorite detective or adventure story. It goes without saying that you – or anyone else in your household - will find them very useful, too.

Figurines: Many people are starting 3D printing to make things for their other hobbies. 3D miniatures can add a whole new dimension to your tabletop games. You can 3D print a model of your child's favorite character or have one printed for your next DnD session!

Home Essentials 3D Print Parts

Doors stop: Triangular doorstops are usually simple 3D-printed models. Your home will no longer suffer from drafts that cause doors to slam. Try engraving a word on the stopper to make things more attractive. The 3D printer software can help a lot.

Planters: Abstract planters are a great item to have 3D printed for succulents and cacti. Traditional planters aren't the best way to hold plants, so why not use a practical replacement? There are interesting 3D prints on the market that can replace traditional clay pots.

Faucet water saver: for this project, you will need a rubber seal with 3D- printed parts. The faucet water saver STL files are available for download. With this, you can make a useful attachment for your faucet that will help you save water.

Repair tools: These tools are great ideas for 3D printer projects at home. Repair tools you can make with the 3D printer include a wrench, screwdriver, scissors, and pliers. These simple tools can be used for a variety of purposes. You may need to assemble furniture, service items, repair pipes, build something, and so on.

Bolt and screws: It's hard to get anything done when you have a bin full of bolts and screws. You can print this bolt gauge that includes all common bolt dimensions to identify faulty bolts, nuts, and screws.

Mobile Phone Gadgets & Accessories

Charger cable organizer: There's nothing more annoying than a tangle of chargers and cables. With these printable organizers, you can keep chargers neatly stored and protect them from other cords when not in use.

Volume booster: Instead of Bluetooth speakers, use a DIY amplifier to increase your phone's volume. This project is just for you if you often complain that the volume of your phone needs to be louder.

USB enclosure: Turn your boring flash drive into something vibrant with a colorful USB case. Create a 3D computer model based on the shape and design you want for the USB flash drive. Remember to measure your USB flash drive beforehand carefully.

Phone cases: Phone cases are a common but useful 3D printing idea. You can easily 3D print a new phone case if you like changing it every now and then. 

Get Creative with Kitchen Appliances

Juicer: If you have never been able to justify buying a citrus juicer for your kitchen, buy one by 3D printing it. 

Cutlery: 3D printing cutlery is one of the coolest things you can do. With this 3D printer design, you can make a set of small cutlery that you can use anywhere, at work, picnic, or even in a cafeteria.

Measuring spoons: If you like to bake and cook, you will need measuring spoons; you can make them with the 3D printer. If you know someone who likes to experiment with different recipes in the kitchen, personalize this cookware and give it as a gift.

Mason Jar Handlers: In every household, you can find several empty canning jars. Use the software to create plastic handles that fit tightly and securely on the jars.

Coasters:  Families often use coasters to protect their tables from hot drinks. They are always in demand. Imagine you could make coasters in all kinds of shapes for all kinds of holidays and occasions; that's a good business idea!

The Future Looks Bright for 3D Printing

3D printing makes it possible for manufacturers to print intricate designs, which is impossible by traditional methods. Why? Because of high costs or the absence of practical techniques. The adaptability, precision, and efficiency of 3D printers make them a promising tool for the future of manufacturing.

Almost every industry can benefit from 3D printers. In fact, many companies now use 3D printers to quickly create prototypes, eliminating the need to spend a lot of time and millions of dollars on research and innovation. Prototypes are not the only thing the technology is used for. Printing finished products has gained traction recently. 

And with today's 3D printers, you can print a replacement part if you lose the battery cover on your TV remote. In the future, it may be possible to print a new remote control if you lose yours.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

A Final Word

Hull founded 3D Systems in 1986, which now supplies individuals and businesses with 3D printers of various types. 3D Systems offers entry-level kits, high-performance commercial systems, and on-demand parts services, primarily for businesses.

Nowadays, 3D printing at home is more affordable, efficient, and customizable than buying similar items in stores. The technology is already quite mature, and the quality of the items produced is improving daily.

Several industries use 3D printers to make prototypes or even final products, sectors like automotive and aerospace. Artists can use 3D printing technology to make sculptures; architects can create models. Archaeologists use 3D printers to create replicas of fragile artifacts, such as antiquities destroyed in earthquakes or other disasters.

There are endless ideas for 3D printing that you can use to get creative with your printer. Make sure you always buy 3D-printed products from credible manufacturers, and don't forget the role of accessories in maximizing your printing efficiency.