All of us home 3d printer folks have a similar problem: once we’ve printed all the things that we knew we needed (and bought the printer for), we ran out of projects to print. Now what?
Here’s a list of fantastic ideas to help you find something fun and useful to print. Your spouse might even thank you for printing these, making points for you! Some are quite useful and some are marginal but fun. As always, your mileage may vary!
I’ve included links to the Thingiverse.com things in the article. I don’t claim any ownership or even that I’ve tried them all. But they all look cool and I have tried some to great success (the shopping bag handles and the toothpaste squeeze holder worked quite well for me)!
This is a marvel of engineering and science. It really is. It relies on the fact that sun comes in at a predictable angle at certain times of the day. So, you can print an object that only allows light through at certain angles, and that allowed light shows up as dots in the shadow.
It might be a bit of a stretch to say “insanely useful”, but it’ll keep your guests talking for a while! (Rely on the rest of the list for the more “insanely useful” stuff.)
You could print a message or messages that change over time, but the fact that you can print a sun clock, that actually tells the time reasonable accurately (it updates every 20 minutes) is astounding to me. Of course, it doesn’t work when there’s no sun!
The model linked is for a customizable item, and the instructions on how to customize it aren’t that easy. But there are others that are just clocks, if you prefer. Just search for digital sun clock on Thingiverse.Com and you’ll find what you’re looking for. This one, however, had the most flexibility, so I included it here as just too cool to miss out on! Talk about a great science project!
These days, everyone has at least one, and probably a bunch of earbuds for their devices hanging around. You loop the cords around your hand around and around, then shove them in a pocket, drawer or backpack, where they unwind and tangle near-instantly!
Enter the earbud holder! It’s a simple little design (there are actually dozens of designs on Thingiverse.Com) but I liked this one because it came in three sizes. It’s an easy print, and if you print in a flexible material (like TPU printer filament – see my Recommended Gear page here) then it will flex and hold your earbuds nicely.
Bathtub Drain Hair Stopper
Here are a few items that make a lot of sense for a bathroom or basement. A bathroom drain hair stopper is a great idea to save yourself the hassle of having to clean a clogged drain. Use TPU filament to print this to keep it pliable, and it’ll fit quite well. Remove to clean and wash out from time to time.
Drain Cleaner or Snake
So you didn’t get your drain hair stopper in place in time. To clean out the hair and gunk, send this flexible stick down the hole and pull up. The serrated edge will grab the hair and pull it out. Hold your nose when you yank it out, as this sort of stuff tends to smell! Repeat the process several times to get all the clogging gunk out.
Use TPU filament again, so that the snake is flexible. It’ll be tough enough to grab the hair on the way back up, so that won’t be a problem. If you find that it is, try again with PLA or ABS, but realize that it won’t go around corners, so you’ll just get that stuff that’s before the bend.
Lastly, here’s a great idea for a basement drain or other floor drain. This one is better using non-flexible filament, as you’ll want it rigid enough to withstand traffic. You could, of course, just head to the hardware store or DIY mega-center and get a version of this, but you’ve got the printer and the time, so why not?
Succulents Stacking Planter
Small plants, like succulents, don’t need a lot of space. Something modern and interesting would be perfect for a window sill or sunny sideboard within a house or apartment. These are printed individually, so you can have as few or as many as you like, and you can arrange them in interesting shapes.
Move, or change your mind? You can disassemble the structure and reassemble as you like. Modular has its advantages!
This is a great example of a small feeder you can print on your FDM filament 3d printer. You can hang it outside, like in a window bay or under an overhang. Add some bird seed to it once in a while and enjoy watching the birds come. Use some rigid plastic like PLA or ABS. If it’s going to get regular rain and sunshine, avoid the PLA, as it’ll start to break down and fall apart. Remember, PLA is biodegradable!
We put a cat tree on the inside of the window for the cats to watch the birds on the outside. We call it “cat TV”. They stare for hours at the birds. They really seem to enjoy it.
Water Still For Purifying Water
This looks like a tube. But it’s more than a tube! You can screw in a pop or soda bottle into the top of the tube, and another one in the bottom. If the bottom has dirty water in it, and the whole assembly is left in the sun, then the dirty water will slowly vaporize. That vapor will rise up the tube, and condense in the upper bottle. When it does, it’s clean water!
Once you have some water in this manner, you can remove the upper bottle and you’ve got clean water! It even works with salt water. I’ve seen these tubes suggested for survival or hiking gear, but it’s cool enough just to try out as a science experiment! It’ll only work in sunlight (that’s what’s raising the temperature of the water in the lower bottle to vaporize). It doesn’t need to boil or anything. It just needs to vapor. Use ABS to keep the plastic food-safe and not deteriorate with sun and moisture (like PLA will).
Small Waterproof Box
This stackable box (roughly 4″ x 2″) is great for keeping stuff in a boat or basement where you don’t want moisture to get in. Use ABS filament when you print this so that moisture and light won’t break down the material.
You’ll need several metal pins and some latex paint to finish the product, but those items are easily ordered. You could do some math and upsize this, but that’ll require some CAD knowledge and expertise. Still, it’s a neat little box for who-knows-what!
Brooms leaning up against the wall drive me nuts. I’ve tripped over my fair share, and there’s no really good place to put a broom to put it away without one (or several) of these. It also works for rakes, shovels, ice scrapers and snow picks (for those in northern climates).
Print in ABS filament if you intend to use it for outdoor tools or if mounting outdoors. PLA filament is fine for indoor brooms and the like.
Broom Handle Converter to Hand Broom
In the same “broom” vein as the previous item, an old broom with a broken handle can be converted to a hand broom with this addition. It can come in handy for picking up the sweepings from the regular broom and getting them into a dustpan. PLA filament should be just fine for this but if there’s any thought of using this with wet materials, use ABS so that it doesn’t biodegrade.
Shopping Bag Handles
If you’re carrying shopping bags for any great distance, you’ll know that they tend to bunch up and begin to dig into your hands. Heavier items (like a bag of oranges or drinks) can cause discomfort after even a moderate length of carry.
Print a couple of these and take them with you to the grocery store. You can slip the bag handles through the plastic carrying handles. The rigid and more forgiving footprint of the plastic handles makes them much more comfortable to carry. You can fit several bags into one carrier, just as you would carry multiple bags in one hand. Use ABS so that the handles don’t biodegrade with moisture and sun (like rain or hand sweat).
Custom Vacuum Attachments
This is something that should have been obvious to me but I never thought of it. Until now, of course! You can print different accessories for your vacuum’s hose. Your vacuum likely came with several, but they may not be perfect for what you want, or you may have lost a few along the way. The very thin ones are great for cleaning cars or other hard-to-reach spaces.
Use ABS or PLA filament for rigid accessories. You may want to experiment with flexible TPU filament for some so that you can bend around corners or between seat cushions, but it may just cut off the air flow. Experiment and see!
Toothpaste Squeeze Holder
This handy little bathroom gadget allows you to get the most toothpaste out of a tube! You crank the tube into the squeezer. Every time you want some toothpaste, simply remove the lid, turn a turn or two, and use the toothpaste squeezed out. The design ensures that the toothpaste isn’t squeezed back down the tube, meaning you can get the most out of the tube possible.
Use ABS filament for this. You won’t want a moist bathroom environment causing your gadget to biodegrade!
Travel Toothpaste Refiller
In the same toothpaste vein, it’s annoying to try to find those tiny travel toothpaste tubes. Once one’s empty (it doesn’t take long if you’re a travel warrior), use this simple connector to attach your regular tube of toothpaste to the travel one. Ensure that the air is out of the travel tube and squeeze the big tube. You’ll transfer the toothpaste back to the smaller tube to be ready for the next trip! ABS filament is best here, as bathrooms and sink areas can be wet and you don’t want it to degrade.
Clothespin Bathroom Hook
Another one for the bathroom, this one requires parts from a regular clothespin. You’ll keep either just the spring or the spring and one side of the pin. Print a new hangar side for the pin, and you’ve got a great way to hang things up neatly for items that are otherwise problematic.
If you’re going to use this in the bathroom, use ABS filament. This would be great for hanging wet swimming trunks in the shower to drip dry overnight. PLA filament is just fine for hanging items in a regular closet though, assuming you’re not concerned about moisture.
What is the most 3d printed object?
According to Fabbaloo.Com (they’re the only ones willing to stake a claim on this) is that The Elephant is the most printed object ever. Here’s their article on the subject, along with links so that you can contribute to the total and print your own!
How much would a 3d printed house cost?
An article at InvestingEngineering.Com states that a home could be printed in a day for around $10,000USD. Over time, this could become even cheaper. This is just the print and concrete cost, and doesn’t include all the bits that go in the house, like windows, doors, cabinets, sinks, plumbing and electrical. So it’s cheaper, but not cheap.