The Most Interesting, Non-Obvious Things You Can Make At Home On A 3D Printer

The Micro 3D PrinterKickstarter/M3DThe Micro 3D Printer

The go-to line is that desktop 3D printers represent “the democratization of manufacturing.”

If you have a printer of your own, there’s nearly no limit to what you can make. You don’t even need to be technically skilled in electronics or design.

People around the world are constantly uploading the digital files necessary to replicate their creations to a site that’s especially popular among the 3D printing community: MakerBot’s Thingiverse. While MakerBot sells its own line of 3D printers, there’s no need for you to own one of their printers specifically in order to use these files. Any printer that can read the files will do.

Here are some of the most impressive, interesting, or non-obvious applications of print-it-yourself manufacturing you can find on Thingiverse.

A simple and elegant custom chess set.

Start your own vending machine business! This 3D printed candy dispenser accepts real money.

The detail on this action figure is stunning. It has 70 points of articulation. Look at the hands and fingers.

At the other end of the spectrum, here's a robot toy.

Some 3D printing hobbyists might make musical instruments. Here's a working ocarina.

You can think bigger, too. Here a guy has made a working violin.

If you've got an engineer's mind, you might go to work on building a quadcopter (equipped with a video camera!).

Here's a silly clock robot that writes the time, erases it, and updates it every minute.

On the more practical 'why didn't I think of that?' side of things, here's a makeshift lid for your bag of coffee.

And from the 'I definitely never would have thought of that' category, here's a water fountain for your cat.

Can't be bothered to buy a lawn sprinkler? Make your own.

This lock-and-key set actually functions.

And it's a snap to print up a new folding wallet.

Designers can run wild with this technology. Here's an elaborate design for a box for your knick-knacks.

This elephant toy is darling.

Break a heel? Just print entirely new shoes.

Not that anyone wears chainmail anymore, but a printer can readily make more of the stuff.

Google has an obsessive eye on the future.

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