Printed Gift Ideas: 10 Things To Create on Your 3D Printer
2022 Dec 16th
Homemade gifts range from a first grader’s laminated snowflake cutout ornament to exquisite, handcrafted jewelry. When you take the time and care to create a gift with your own hands, the recipient will cherish it and appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Technical advances have expanded the definition of “homemade” to include things made with computer assistance, including 3D printed items. We’ve got printed gift ideas! These 10 things to create on your 3D printer will delight your friends and family during the holidays, for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, or just to show your love and appreciation.
Before you get started on any of these projects, consider the materials you’ll use. Most of the patterns you can download will come with instructions, including the recommended type of filament.
Depending on what you’re making, consider whether the filament you use is safe for food contact, nontoxic enough to use for toys, or available in the color you want. Some projects may require a durable 3D printing material that’s both strong and flexible. Items used outdoors may need UV-resistant filament.
Before choosing from gift ideas to create on your 3D printer, think about your gift recipient’s interests, tastes, and lifestyle. While carabiners and tent poles would be great for an outdoor enthusiast, a bookworm may prefer a bookmark or a stand for a tablet to use when reading e-books.
Gamers may love 3D printed cities or landscapes that correspond to their favorite virtual worlds, and superhero fans love miniatures of their favorite comic book and film characters. Music lovers are always into experimenting with new sounds, and you can find models for lesser-known instruments like Russian balalaikas or Chinese jinghus.
There are so many models for various types of objects available online that you can find plans for nearly anything that would make a great gift. Browse around and bookmark links to plans and designs that pique your interest.
We gleaned these suggestions from 3D printing maker sources like Thingiverse, My Mini Factory, Pinshape, 3Dfindit, and more. There are numerous sites that offer designers the opportunity to upload their files for others to freely use and even modify. Here are some of our favorite creative ideas we found.
Planters and Vases
Seed-starting pots, vases in a variety of shapes, and planters for desktop or windowsill greenery are a great selection for the friend or family member with a green thumb. Choose from a variety of sizes and styles.
These handy blocks eliminate the need for multiple measuring spoons that clutter your favorite cook’s drawer. They look decorative on a countertop, too, so keeping them out and within reach enhances a kitchen’s decor.
Let’s face it—those plastic spoons and forks that restaurants drop into your takeout bag are wasteful and not usually recyclable. Create a colorful set of reusable utensils that tuck into a purse or insulated (and also reusable) lunch bag or cooler.
You can now print functional musical instruments with your home 3D printer, from pennywhistles to violins and guitars. Some projects are simple, like the ocarina, while others, like the guitar or electric violin, take more skill. But as they say, practice makes perfect! There are models for flutes, trumpets, and drums available. You could create everything you need for a band!
You can print a set of customized coasters for your family and friends. Whether it’s a crest or character from their favorite show or just their name, you can print it on your 3D printer. If you want to add an extra touch, pick up a can of metallic spray paint to give it a special finish.
Phone Speaker Amplifiers
Sometimes, people want to share their favorite tunes or playlists live with friends at a picnic, around the pool, or at a backyard bonfire. In these cases, a phone speaker amplifier can substitute for a Bluetooth speaker that will need charging sooner than your phone. Its looks are unique, with mini gramophone-type horns on either side. It makes for a great conversation starter!
Cosplay Costume Pieces
If you need a sword that looks cool but won’t injure anyone or a brooch to hold a plaid on your shoulder, 3D printing patterns can make your costume complete. Print belt buckles, medals, masks, or even prosthetics to affix to noses, brows, or ears. You can even become a pointy-eared holiday helper with 3D printed ears!
For the coach who needs their players’ attention or the person who feels safer with an emergency whistle, you can print a functional whistle in a variety of colors. Match the coach’s team colors or print a safety whistle in an easy-to-find bright color for emergencies.
Now you can print necklaces, earrings, and bracelets in a variety of designs to complement any outfit. From chandelier-style earrings to cuff bracelets, you can find a design that will appeal to your partner, friend, parent, or sibling.
Who said wallets must be made of leather? Your 3D printer can create a wallet complete with credit card slots. One credit card holder design even includes an “ejector” button that pushes the card out for easy retrieval.
Printers and Pens
If you have a friend who is creative and into the visual arts, why not give them the means to make their own 3D printed objects? If they already have a printer, give them a spool or two of printing filament. 3D printing enthusiasts may also appreciate accessories like adhesive that affixes the print to the print bed to keep it stable and prevent warping.
For the person who isn’t familiar with 3D printing, start them with a 3D printing pen. This is a fun way to play with the 3D printing process and build interest in the medium.
Finding the right gift for everyone on your list can be frustrating and time consuming. But if you make gifts with your 3D printer, you’ll have fun and can learn some new skills in the process.