7 Incredibly Useful 3D Prints

3d prints

3D printing is a very exciting prospect, and the possibilities are almost endless in terms of what you can create with your printer. But despite this, a lot of people seem to get stuck in a rut of creating countless ornaments and other useless items.

This doesn’t have to be the case, though: there’s an incredible amount of genuinely practical products that you can print in the comfort of your own home. To give you some inspiration for your next project, here are seven uses for your 3D printer or your 3D printing pen that you might not have thought of.

It’s always a good idea to have a spare key to hand, should you lose the main one for your home/car/office. But, did you know you can print a spare? Simply download a model of the type of key you’re replicating and enter the key code, and you’ll soon have your spare ready to print. We don’t recommend relying on your printed key for everyday use, but it’s a cheap and easy way to always have an emergency spare to hand.
A group of US-based researchers have also recently released an app which lets its users print copies of ‘restricted’ keys, which have traditionally been practically uncopiable. You know, just in case you need to get into a secure place without an invitation. 

Like a little Sci-Fi with your supper? Then these R2D2 salt and pepper shakers have got you covered. These practical little beauties are a lot of fun, and make an excellent talking point on your dinner table. They’d also make a cool gift for a Star Wars fan, if you can resist keeping them for yourself.
Printing is quick and simple and each shaker can be easily assembled from five parts, making it a perfect project for a beginner. 

star wars salt and pepper

Showering is a mundane but necessary daily task that really could do with brightening up a little, and this dinosaur shower head may well be the answer. It might not seem like the most useful item on our list, but it’s definitely a practical option if your shower head needs replacing. It’s also a great way of getting your kids (if you have any) to be more interested in bathing; or at least you can use that as your excuse for why you need to replace your perfectly functional shower head with this one.

shower heads

Printed in one single piece, it’s quick and easy to produce this ferociously fun bathroom accessory. T-Rex will fit on any standard ½” shower head pipe: just screw it on and you’re good to go.

Be a friend to nature and build your own birdhouse or bird feeder. You can get as complex as you want with this project, from intricate houses with multiple parts, to simple feeders crafted from a single printed piece.
Whichever route you choose to go down, it’s a great way to attract more nature to your garden, and a practical way to use your 3D printer. 

bird house

Make sweet music with your very own home made baroque alto recorder. Although it looks like a fairly simple model, it is definitely functional: this instrument can produce tone for two full octaves, and even stretches part way into a third.
Printed in six pieces, the project will take around 13 hours to complete, which gives you plenty of time to brush up on your music reading skills. You could even print other more tricky instruments such as a guitar or a saxophone and start your own 3D printed band.

2. Protective Phone Case

It seem that every cell phone you see has a cracked screen or chunks missing from it, but you can solve this issue and protect your precious phone without even having to leave your house.
Printing a phone case is a great project for beginners, and there are loads of templates available online for every imaginable phone. If you want something more advanced than your standard plastic phone case, you can get as fancy as you want on this project: add a business card holder or a money clip, or customize your case with a stencil of your name. You can be as basic or creative as your skills allow.

camera 3d printed

Cameras are expensive to buy, so why not make your own? No, really. There are models available that allow you to print an entire camera at home, from the lens all the way down to the gears needed to rotate the spools. What’s really cool about these models is that usually the lens and shutter system are modular, so you can swap them out for alternatives without having to reprint an entirely new body.
This isn’t the easiest of printing jobs, but if you’re into your photography (or love saving money), it’s more than worth the effort.

Wrapping it up

With a bit of practice and imagination, there are endless possibilities for your 3D printer. Despite what some people may think, you don’t have to be stuck creating knick-knacks, and you can actually save a lot of time and money creating your own items at home.
What’s your favorite useful thing to 3D print? Let us know in the comments below.

About the author

John Thatch

John Thatcher is a computer science educated artist. He uses technology to solve artist problems. His friends don't like it when he speaks of himself in the third person. But John does it anyway, because he's a rebel.

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