In the near future, 3D printers will be as essential in a house as having a smartphone or wireless internet. What can you make with a 3D printer at home, you ask? Try these 30 cool and useful ideas to start with.
What Can You Make With a 3D Printer That Is Useful?
A 3D printer's range of applications goes beyond simple technology. Apart from helping with your gadgets, you can make non-digital objects and tools with 3D printers at home. Whether you use a resin-based or filament-based 3D printer, these free 3D creations are easy to make.
This collection of 3D printing projects spans a range of useful scenarios. You'll get some common household items and accessories for gadgets, as well as a few funky and creative tools you never knew you wanted. And of course, there are a few tools to deal with COVID-19.
1. Sturdy Smartphone or Tablet Stand
This simple stand fits myriad smartphone and tablet sizes. Several experienced users have tested it, and Thingiverse (a public repository of 3D projects) has verified it. It's no surprise that it was designed by 3D printing hero Sonia Verdu.
You can use it as a stand, plug it to a charger while on the stand, and even hang the stand on a wall. Given the number of video calls you need to do these days, it's one of the most useful things you can make with a 3D printer at home, for home or work life.
2. Phone Amp or Loudspeaker to Boost Volume
No Bluetooth speakers needed, you can boost your phone's volume with a DIY amplifier. If you often complain about your phone's speaker volume not being loud enough to fill a room, this project is for you.
It's both a smartphone stand as well as a loudspeaker or amplifier. Plus, since it doesn't need Bluetooth, you save battery life.
3. Mini Raspberry Pi Notebook
How would you like to turn your $35 Raspberry Pi into a mini handheld laptop? All you need is a Pi and the PiTFT screen module to make a tiny notebook computer. Print out the case, fit everything in as instructed in this video, and you're good to go.
While the original was made with a Pi2, it works with the new Pi4 too. It's one of the coolest Raspberry Pi projects for 3D printing at home.
4. Touchscreen Raspberry Pi
If a compact, touchscreen Raspberry Pi device is more your taste than the notebook above, the Touch Pi is what you need. Grab a Pi, the 7-inch element14 touchscreen, an Adafruit Powerboost 1000c, and a 6000mAh lithium polymer battery.
Fit it all into this two-part case and you have a portable touchscreen Linux computer!
5. Lightning Cable Savers
The most common problem with iPhone chargers and other USB cables is how they end up fraying. It's super frustrating, and new cables are expensive. Instead, 3D print these cable savers at home to protect both ends.
It's one of the best ways to prevent iPhone cables from fraying.
6. Earphones Case
Much like Lightning USB cables, your earphone cables get tangled and destroyed. It all comes down to good cable management. This spooled earphones holder will keep your in-ear headphones tangle-free and in good shape, while honoring their compact nature.
7. USB Cable Holder
Most of us have a mess of USB cables lying on your desk or around the house. Instead, slot them into this simple USB cable holder, which you can fit onto a wall to clear up desk clutter, or keep on a desk just to stay organized.
These simple utilities are what make 3D printers so awesome.
8. Desk Cable Holder
Mount this nifty utility to the side of your desk to manage all the cables running to it. When you disconnect a USB or charging cable, it's not going to fall down to the floor any more.
The slot is narrow enough that it holds all types of common cables, and even a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. It's an excellent tool to 3D print at home.
9. Cable Spools
Spooling wires is one of the essentials of good cable management. It's also a neat way to keep a wire plugged in at shorter than its full length, but extend it when you need to. Make yourself a few simple cable spools and see how your mess of wires disappears.
Oh yeah, you can scale it up as needed, so it will work with anything from a simple USB cable to a large appliance.
9. AC Adapter Organizer
Like USB cables, AC adapters also make a big mess, especially for devices that you don't use often. And those big plugs take up more space than they should in storage too.
The AC Adapter Organizer is a smart way to put them all in one place, and avoids the mess of tangled wires in a drawer.
10. Parametric Battery Dispenser
You need simple AA or AAA batteries for most things in your house. Where is it when you need it? Print out these dispensers for AA or AAA sized batteries and hang them somewhere convenient.
Just keep the dispenser filled and you'll never run out when you most need it.
11. AA to C Battery Converter
Some electronics still need those big fat C batteries, but you probably don't have any at home. Don't worry, you just need a simple AA battery and this converter. That's right, the only difference between the two is the size, which this converter fixes.
It's one of those ingenious ways to use a 3D printer at home to solve simple problems.
The BladeKey is the key organizer you always wanted but didn't know where to find. How do you find a key organizer that fits your keys perfectly? Make it yourself!
The BladeKey is customizable in length, breadth and width, so that all your keys are perfectly housed in this compact case. Swivel them out one at a time. No more jangling, no more messy mound of metal in your pocket.
While you can download the original STL files on Thingiverse, go through all the videos on the project page to learn how people have further customized this. It'll make your job easier.
Even if you already have an awesome keychain, this can make a neat gift for the holidays. In fact, take a look at some of these other Christmas ideas you can 3D print at home.
13. Strong Flex Door Carabiner
Carabiners are one of the most useful tools to have in your home. They can organize thousands of things in any room, from the garage to your bathroom. Whenever you need one, just 3D print the strong flex door carabiner, which has been measured to have a force of 236 Newtons.
14. Bag Clip
Say it with me, folks, you can never have too many bag clips. If your printer is quiet and you're wondering what you can do with it, just set it to print more of these bag clips. It prints in four parts but is easy to assemble. It comes in longer 85mm and 125mm lengths too, for different types of bags.
15. Citrus Juicer
If you've never been able to justify the cost of a citrus juicer to yourself, treat yourself to one by 3D printing it at home. It's one of those little kitchen tools that makes life easier.
Once printed, make sure you wash it and scrub once with alcohol just to be safe. It's a simple project for beginners to get started with 3D printing.
16. Screw-On Bottle Juicer
The next level of citrus juicers is this 3D printed screw-on juicer. Screw it to the top of a standard PET bottle (the mouth is a standard size tested across many countries).
Then use the juicer to twist an orange or any citrus fruit directly into the bottle. Super cool!
17. The Universal Bottle Opener
The universal bottle opener is one of best things you can do with your 3D printer at home. It unscrews or opens all kinds of bottles with minimal effort, and is especially useful when a screw-top bottle-cap is too tight.
You can even open cans with it.
18. Toothpaste Tube Squeezer
You don't want to waste those few bits of toothpaste left in the tube, but man, it's difficult to squeeze out those last drops. Instead, print out this tube squeezer so it does the job for you.
It'll fit most toothpaste tubes, and even has a lock to prevent the tube from unrolling.
19. Self-Mounting Soap Dish
A soap dish is handy to have. A soap dish that sticks to your wall without any drilling is a must-have. This 3D-printed soap dish uses two medium-sized suction cups to attach itself to your bathroom wall.
Absolutely brilliant, and you can just print another at any time.
20. Combination Safe
It's best to lock away important keys and USB drives when expecting company. This simple five-digit combination safe is the easiest way to get the job done. Now you don't have to worry about your nephew pocketing your work flash drive as a "prank".
Be sure to check out the maker's page for related projects like a mini combination safe, a safe for the visually impaired, and a double combination safe.
21. 8-Bit Video Game Coasters
Buying coasters is for suckers. 3D printed coasters come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so pick what you like, such as the video game coasters linked above. Plus, it's a good starting point for someone wanting to mess around with their own CAD drawings.
If you prefer circular coasters rather than square ones, check this other project of gaming coasters.
22. Measuring Spoons
It's so incredibly frustrating when you lose one item from your measuring cup set. While 1/2 and 1 tablespoon pieces are easy to find in stores as single pieces, the rest aren't. Just print your own instead, so your set is complete again.
23. Beautiful Tape Dispenser
The best-looking tape dispenser you've ever had is something you can't buy at the store. This beautiful Tentacle Tape Dispenser is one of the coolest things you can 3D print at home.
Isn't it awesome? You can print it out as a serrated version or a version where you fit your own blade.
24. Plastic Bag Handle
Oh man, this is the greatest invention since sliced bread. Post-shopping plastic bags cut into every inch of your hand's flesh as you carry them. Get rid of the pain with these nifty ergonomic plastic bag handles.
They're form-fitted for your fingers to evenly distribute the weight and feel comfortable even for heavy bags. Forgot one or misplaced it? No worries, just 3D print another one at home.
25. Self-Watering Planter
Forgot to water your plants or herbs? No problem. The self-watering planter will take care of it. Fill it up once a week and it takes care of the watering for you, so that your absent-minded mistake doesn't harm your plant.
26. Echo 3-Tone Loud Whistle
What's the loudest whistle you can 3D print at home? Meet the Echo, which comes in micro size and full size models. It can hit 129 decibels, which is some serious volume from a tiny gizmo.
Best cover your ears, and whatever you do, make sure the kids don't get their hands on this.
27. 3D Ball-Jointed Frog Doll
Ball-jointed dolls, where every limb and part is flexible akin to the human body, are quite expensive in toy stores. But you can make it for a fraction of the price, and impress your kids.
The 3D ball-jointed frog doll is among the more difficult projects here. So it's not ideal for beginners to assemble, but after a few tries, you should be able to get it right. If you like this, also check out the Articulated Lizard v2.
28. COVID-19 Multipurpose Tool
The COVID-19 multipurpose tool is a nifty accessory to reduce the number of things you touch. With this, you can press elevator buttons, open different types of doors, and even pry open a car handle.
Keep in mind that the tool itself should be disinfected periodically.
29. Superhero Face Mask Ear Saver
One user created a range of ear-savers for face mask wearers. Put this at the back of your head and your mask's straps can loop in this rather than on your ears. The designs include major superheroes from both DC and Marvel, as well as other logos like NFL teams and cars.
30. Face Shield
The most-printed object in 2020 is the face shield. You'll find a large range of designs online, both on Thingiverse and with a simple Google search. Most of them are free to download too, so find any that works best for you.
The one we've chosen is useful for both adults and kids, and uses a velcro strap at the back.
The Best Affordable 3D Printers
Unlike when they launched, 3D printers don't cost a bomb any more. That's what makes it so feasible to do 3D printing at home and create things specific to your needs. In fact, you can get a 3D printer for less than $500 to start your projects. Once you're proficient enough, you might want to look at the more expensive printers.