17 Things to Make with a 3D Printer

The Cube, a personal 3D printer from 3D Systems, Inc.

The Cube, a personal 3D printer from 3D Systems, Inc.

3D printing is here to stay. Personal 3D printers are already available for non-outrageous prices. And like so many technologies, they’re only going to get better – and cheaper. Already, the low-end models give you 200-micron precision and 16 colors, while the high-end models are printing parts for F-18 fighter jets. Plastics are here; other materials, like metal, are coming.

I don’t have one yet, but I’m sure I’ll buy one when the price goes down a little. But what could you make with a 3D printer?

Here are seventeen ideas off the top of my head:

  1. The best Halloween costume ever, custom-designed and perfectly fitted to your body.
  2. 3D fractals! Ben, are you listening? πŸ˜€
  3. Picture frames, exactly the size and shape you need.
  4. Jewelry of all kinds: bracelets, necklaces, even rings. Any style you can imagine.
  5. A voodoo doll that looks just like the person you want to, er, vent your frustration on. Disbelief in the voodoo is handy for removing ethical complications!
  6. Action figures of underappreciated characters.
  7. Refrigerator magnets. Go wild.
  8. Personalized Christmas ornaments.
  9. Miniature replicas of famous places like Westminster Abbey or the Arc de Triomphe, or not-so-famous places (like your own house!).
  10. Sculptures: no longer limited by sculpting ability.
  11. Trippy, psychedelic juggling balls. (Glow-in-the-dark printing materials are already available!)
  12. Paper clips shaped like Cthulhic tentacles.
  13. One word: cosplay. (Or is that two words?)
  14. Custom PC cases sweet enough to put Alienware out of business.
  15. N-sided dice for your D&D sessions.
  16. Bookends! A dragon’s-head bookend for the fantasy shelf, a sandworm bookend to complement your sci fi collection, a bust of Ada Lovelace for your programming section. For those of us who still have non-digital books. πŸ™‚
  17. Wedding centerpieces that look like Ambassador Kosh. Because why would you not do this.

So tell me – what would you make with a 3D printer?


4 responses to “17 Things to Make with a 3D Printer

  1. a pair of jeans that actually fit would be nice

  2. You just gave me some great ideas.

    Once metal gets to be used you could make kitchen utensils, some cool knives, forks, spoons…etc.

    You could make awesome looking desk lamps, all you’d have to do is attach the metal part with the light bulb and feed the electric cord through it once it’s done. (if that makes sense)

    You could make great cuff-links for any occasion.

    You could make a bicycle frame, all you’d need are the wheels and chain to finish it.

    I would make containers/tupperware that’s perfect for whatever food you carry around. For example I would like small tupperware that snap together like legos so you could carry several small dishes easily. (rice+kimchi+gyoza+small amount of soy sauce) without having to dump them all into one large tupperware.

    I could make a bust of myself to admire my rugged good looks πŸ™‚

    Ok so that last one I probably won’t but I can see people making “love” dolls of their favorite celebrity or even creepier of someone they know.

    Now that gets me thinking of the problems we may never even foresee with this technology. You know more about this than I do, using current face/body mapping technology add in google glass( it’s gonna be around), secretly map someone’s features that you’re talking to or seeing, and now you can make plastic replicas that will look exactly like them? Is that possible? I could see some lawsuits…”your honor he made a replica of me without my consent and then abused it in public (or something along these lines”

    • They’re already talking about “3D copying” – a 3D scan, and then a 3D print. I’d never thought about your last scenario before, scanning a person and making a replica of their body. But I could definitely see that happening.

      All these new technologies raise a ton of privacy issues. No idea yet how it will all turn out. But it should be a fascinating ride…

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