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3D printer

3D Printers: Cool Things You Can Make Now

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Some recent media articles have blurred the lines between what 3D printers can do today v. what they might be capable of doing in the future. To help clear up some of the confusion, let’s take a look at some of the cool things you can make right now:

Birdhouses

This is a burgeoning field for home hobbyists. Designs range from practical nesting sites to sleek, organic shapes and elaborate renditions of Victorian mansions, Craftsman cottages or castle towers.

Busts & Figurines

From right-scaled dolls for dollhouses to elaborate figures for display, makers are crafting highly detailed figurines. They range from figurines with accurate period costumes to selfies created from full-body digital scans. Teachers, students and history buffs make figures to populate elaborate dioramas capturing particular periods or events, while others are producing lifelike busts of family, friends and famous figures.

Custom Components

This is a broad arena filled with items both functional and frivolous. Ingenious DIYers are printing everything from custom bike-carrying handles to chip clips, parts containers and replacement knobs for vintage appliances, cars and radios.

Gadget Accessories

People love their digital devices and many are translating that love into gadget accessories. Examples include cases and bumper bands for cell phones, compact cell phone recharging stations, tablet kickstands ranging from practical props to extraordinary sculptures, and carefully configured holders that amplify phone speakers to boost and improve sound quality.

Game Pieces

Board games are popular with children and adults alike, and 3D printers are expanding the possibilities. Examples abound from traditional and custom chess pieces to comprehensive war re-enactment game sets. Civil War sets replicate the Union and Confederate armies and armaments. World War II buffs produce made-to-scale airplanes, bombers, battle ships, destroyers, tanks, trucks, Jeeps and more. Creative hobbyists have designed custom pieces for their own unique games or transformed body scans of family members into chess pieces or game characters.

Flying Contraptions

This is a diverse and fascinating field. Aficionados are crafting powered and unpowered scale models of airplanes old and new, constructing innovative gliders with optimized aerodynamics, and developing experimental designs for sail planes and futuristic flying bots powered by multiple propellers.

Models

Model makers have embraced 3D printers with enthusiasm. Some use the technology to produce replacement parts for traditional models, while others print prepared and custom models piece by piece. Examples include airplanes, animal and human skeletons and skulls, automobiles, dinosaurs, fossil replicas, interlocking geometrics, locomotives, trucks, ships, and much more.

This list is by no means comprehensive, and in fact, it barely scratches the surface. If you’re intrigued by the technology and have wondered what you could do with it, these possibilities might strike a creative spark.

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