Fact: coming up with good 3D printing ideas feels like banging your head against the wall.
Do you know why that is?
Because there's so much you can do with a 3D printer, that it feels impossible to know where to start.
Have you ever printed anything in 3D before?
If so, then you'll know that it's pretty neat. Also, you probably instantly recognized the potential.
This is a technology that's only going to evolve and get more sophisticated as it goes.
I mean, just look at where 3D printing ideas are today, less than a decade after going mainstream!
Doctors create artificial heart valves with 3D printers! Amputees have robotic prosthetic limbs made with 3D printers!
Someone even printed a 400-square-foot home!
There's unlimited potential there.
"3D printing is going to be way bigger than what the 3D printing companies are saying" - Credit Suisse
Here's where you're most likely going to see 3D printing ideas evolve in the future, as it applies directly to your life.
I'm talking about decentralized manufacturing.
Seriously, between automation and manufacturing-as-a-service, the world we have today is ripe for disruption.
Do you know what that is?
Decentralized manufacturing will mean that producers use a bunch of home-based freelancers with 3D printers to produce goods, instead of building entire factories.
Thanks to cloud technology, diagrams and designs can be downloaded right to someone's printer, and they can just pump out a bunch of stuff.
Such as Lego, or car parts, or bone replacement.
Yes, bone replacements.
It's amazing stuff and a little scary.
So let's get into it.
How a 3D Printer Works
Have you wondered how on earth 3D printing works?
I know I have.
So let's take a look.
First, you need to understand a basic concept.
3D printing takes place in layers.
There's no need to cut anything, and no mold is required.
As the nozzle moves back and forth, it builds layer upon layer.
The nozzle squirts out melted plastic filaments, but it does so in such a precise manner that whatever diagram is uploaded into the printer comes out perfect.
Some printers also use metal, although those are larger industrial-sized 3D printers.
How does it do that?
It all starts with a digital model of whatever needs printing.
The model is turned into a 2D rendering by the machine's software, and then the printer uses that to build the layers.
Also, there are two types of 3D printers.
Melts plastic and lays it down through a nozzle
Uses a laser to melt metal into the shape of the object
Here's something you may not have known: 3D printing ideas were first conceived by sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clark way back in 1964.
"Forget shopping. Soon, you'll be able to download your clothes." Danit Peleg
But get this:
The first 3D printer was built in 1987 but didn't go commercial until the late 90s.
And you know what?
Today you can buy a 3D printer for less than $2,000.
According to Wohlers 2018 Worldwide Report, there are more than 1 million consumer 3D printers out there right now.
So, got any good 3D printing ideas?
3D Printing for Beginners
So you want to start 3D printing?
To start, you'll need some 3D printing ideas.
Otherwise, what's the point?
If you can't come up with any, simply search Google.
I'll have a few 3D printing ideas for you later on.
After that, where do you start?
Here's the truth.
You'll need space before anything else.
If you're working out of a cramped bachelor pad or there are little kids who can easily get at your workspace, then don't even bother.
It's not going to work.
But if you've got a good space to put a large printing machine, and it can remain relatively safe from pets and kids, then you're off to a good start.
Next, you'll need a 3D printer.
All the 3D printing ideas in the world mean nothing without the printer.
How do you know what to buy? Let's assume that you haven't bought one yet.
Okay, so here's the low down on what to look for.
First, most home 3D printers resemble big cubes.
You'll need to choose whether you want a PJP, or Plastic Jet Printer, or SLA printer.
More about that later.
The main stat you need to look for is Build Volume/Print Area attribute.
This is how much space you have to work with.
The next thing to look for is printing speed, usually measured in millimeters per second (mm/s).
Finally, a higher resolution printer is able to create thinner, more detailed pieces, but costs a lot more.
You'll also want to decide on the kind of materials you want to use.
Your main choices are between ABS or PLA. Both are types of thermoplastic, but they have their own unique pros.
ABS is stronger and more durable, but also trickier to work with. It's usually left in the domain of professionals.
On the other hand, PLA is lighter and able to create more detailed shapes, but it also breaks easier.
However, PLA has the advantage of being available in more colors.
You can get this filament at a variety of stores, such as Best Buy, or even online through Amazon and dedicated retailers.
If this is your first time, you can find some great 3D printing ideas online.
There are designs for almost anything!
Of course, you can make your own in a program such as AutoCAD, but when starting out, just use a premade design.
Chances are that anything you think of, someone has already thought of it and designed it.
Choose one you like and download it.
Then upload the file to your printer's software and follow the directions.
It will take your printer from two hours to two days to finish your 3D printing ideas.
FFF vs. SLA printers
Here's another thing you need to know.
And that's the difference between FFF and SLA printers:
FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) is also called FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling). It's industrial and expensive. Also, it requires trained engineers to operate.
On the other hand, most commercial printers are SLA (Stereolithographic) printers.
When talking about 3D printing ideas, I'll keep it to things you can do with an SLA printer.
We'll leave the FFF modeling to the pros.
"One of our aims is to use 3D printed metal parts to manufacture cars." - Audi
A Few 3D Printing Ideas for Your Home
What to Print Each Month:
Heart-shaped Valentine's Day gift box
Easter basket flower vase
Six-pack bottle holder
Uncle Sam straw holder
Beach pail and shovel
Ghost with LED eyes
Turkey-shaped napkin ring
If you could print any of your 3D printing ideas right now, what would it be?
I'll tell you what I would print.
A pair of Crocs.
I know what you're thinking.
Is this guy serious?
What can I say? I love Crocs for wearing around the house and for quick runs to the end of the driveway.
"We are able to 3D print embryoid bodies to produce highly uniform blocks of embryonic stem cells from scratch." - Dr. Wei Sun
At this point, you realize that you can turn almost any of your 3D printer ideas into reality.
So long as there aren't mechanical parts, chemicals, or electronic components, you can 3D print nearly anything.
But wait a moment.
Doesn't that mean people could print weapons?
You see, firearms require both complex mechanical operations and the bullets require chemicals. You can't 3D print that stuff.
Sure, someone could print a knife, but anybody can walk into Walmart and buy a knife so what's the big deal?
Yep, that's right, there isn't one.
But get this.
You could theoretically 3D print yourself a hatchet for the next time you go camping. Or tent pegs. Or even a freakin' tent!
Check out some of these other ideas.
We've all been there.
The holiday season is over, and you're looking at your credit card bill with a mixture of despair and anxiety.
You know you'll spend most of the year paying it off, just so you can rack it up again next Christmas.
With some great 3D printing ideas, you can make your own gifts!
That doesn't stop at Christmas, either.
There's birthdays and weddings and anniversaries.
Think of all the gifts you can print!
If you're gift-giving to kids than there are a million 3D printing ideas to be had.
Check it out.
You can print Lego (or some unauthorized version of it) and action figures and toy tea sets. There's even puzzles and games like Battleship that can be printed.
Let's take a look.
Trust me when I say I know how hard it is to find the perfect birthday gift.
I've been there.
But now that you have a 3D printer, all you need are some 3D printing ideas, and you'll have some birthday gifts whipped up in no time.
Here are some ideas to start you off:
3D printing ideas for birthdays
- Kid's skateboard
- Jewelry box
- Batman mask
- Bottle opener
- Wall decor
- Toy monster truck
- Dollhouse furniture
It begins with a sinking feeling and ends with embarrassment.
Ya, I'm talking about wedding gifts.
Your friend is getting married, and the moment you found out, you panicked.
Tuxedos. Hotels. Wedding gifts. It's so expensive and time-consuming.
We all know the feeling.
There's nothing nice about a wedding and if society decided to do away with them, all the better.
But until then, you'll need some 3D printing ideas to get you through it.
Check these out.
3D printing ideas for weddings
Do you know what's so great about the holidays?
You can get away with giving anything!
And with a 3D printer, your holiday shopping budget just fell through the floor.
Not only can you decorate your tree for next to nothing, but now you can print all your gifts right at home.
Here are some awesome 3D printing ideas for the holidays.
3D printing ideas for holidays
Why stop with gifts?
You can turn your home into a showcase of what a 3D printer is capable of.
There are so many 3D printing ideas for your home that entire books have been written about it.
Just think of the possibilities.
Are you running short on clothes hangars?
No problemo! Print yourself some more.
You'll never need for decorative wall hooks again, and pencil holders are a breeze.
Print yourself a decorative toothbrush holder, and if you get bored with it, print a new one!
Home decor, doorstops, bookmarks, and planters. The list of 3D printing ideas for your home is almost endless.
Do you have young kids?
If so, they're going to LOVE anything you print out.
Get them involved in the fun. They can help choose what to print, load the filament, and watch the magic happen.
Let's take a look.
I know what you're thinking.
You can print yourself a bunch of different shelves.
Box shelves, decor shelves, a key shelf near the door.
You print them out small and join them together into whatever shape you need.
How cool is that?
And you know what else?
You can totally hack some IKEA designs for your own home, such as birch-colored mounting brackets or even wall-mounted storage boxes.
The great thing about having a 3D printer is that when it comes to storage, you've got it handled.
Check this out.
Just like you can fill your home with shelving, you can also fill it with plants and flowers.
Some of the best 3D printing ideas you'll come across online are planters.
These are awesome, too.
You can get a Nefertiti head planter or a bunch of stacked cubes where you can plant small herbs.
Talking about herbs, make yourself a little kitchen herb garden.
One idea is to make a key-hook planter combination. Why not be greeted by a bit of joy when you come home?
Do you garden?
If so, you can supplement your planters with some awesome gardening tools.
Spades, watering cans, and even knee pads can all be printed.
Want to know a secret?
I'll tell you.
You don't need to buy most stuff for your kitchen anymore.
Sure, the big things such as pots and pans will need to come from a store.
You don't want to put a 3D-printed pot on a hot surface, trust me.
But everything else?
Like cups. You can print a lot of cups.
Ice cube trays and popsicle molds are another cool idea.
You can print a garlic press, a melon baller, and a citrus juicer.
But if you want to get really fancy, why not print an entire sushi-making set?
Sometimes you want some decor in your kitchen. In that case, would a new backsplash interest you?
You can print everything but the kitchen sink!
3D Printing Trends for 2019 and Beyond
Do you want to know where 3D printing will go in the future?
You don't have to search far, because today's trends are already showing the way forward.
Metal is where it's going.
Right now a metal binding printer costs upwards of $500,000.
But thanks to new machines coming out HP, that price is dropping to $100,000.
They're still industrial, but as popularity grows for 3D printing ideas, so too will demand for affordable metal printers.
"It will change the entire paradigm of how we see innovation and manufacturing in America." - Bre Pettis
But wait, there's more.
You see, another growing segment is the demand for organic materials.
At MIT, scientists created genetically-programmed cells with a 3D printer which can be worn as a tattoo. It changes color, and even changes shape!
As that technology evolves, we'll see more and more organic materials enter the world of 3D printing.
But do you want to know what's really exciting?
It's the financial opportunities 3D printing comes with.
As I said earlier, diversified, de-centralized manufacturing is set to disrupt the economy like never before.
You stand to make some money printing out parts at home.
Right now those are fairly simple, such as plastic drywall anchors or small hinges for a toy manufacturer.
But they'll pay you for it. And this sector is only going to grow.
And guess who was in on the ground floor?
That's right. You were!
Pros and Cons of 3D Printing
You might be wondering "Is there anything 3D printers CAN'T do?"
They are pretty awesome, but you already knew that.
However, they come with some cons too.
Never mind the fact that you can't print mechanical objects or electronic microchips, although that would be awesome.
3D printing is costly.
Buying a good SLA printer will cost you up to $2,000.
And all that filament gets pricey too.
On the flip side, you get to save so much money on gifts, decoring your home, and of course, Christmas.
Sometimes I think 3D printing was invented solely with the holidays in mind.
"We have developed the technology to 3D print a light source from scratch." - Daniel Stolyarov
But I'm going off track.
There are plenty of good things about 3D printing, and there are a ton of great 3D printing ideas out there to start you off.
But it's not all roses and rainbows.
That's because 3D printing comes with some negatives too.
Let's get to it.
As you can see, there is an equal number of pros and cons when looking at 3D printing.
On a larger scale, the benefits far outweigh the negative impacts.
Just think of where medical science can take us thanks to 3D printing.
But with the double threat of automation and diversified manufacturing hovering over our heads, we're going to need to think of some solutions to the job situation, and soon.
Because soon enough there won't be a need for workers.
And we can partially thank 3D printing for that.
Is It for You?
Well, what do you think?
Do any of these 3D printing ideas appeal to you?
Or is this even something that you would be interested in?
Right now the technology is still in its early stages.
We've all seen the Hollywood movies where they use a 3D printer to reconstruct an entire person out of one strand of DNA.
Well, as it stands right now, 3D printing is heading in that direction.
Of course, it's far away over the horizon right now.
But get this.
You don't need to print a human into existence to enjoy 3D printing at home.
There's enough around you today to inspire you.
Doorstops, spatulas, sunglasses, and even hair clips can be easily printed.
So what do you think? Are you going to give it a whirl?
Let us know in the comments!