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Practical 3D Printing: 10 Things to Make With a 3D Printer

Practical 3D Printing List

Practical 3D Printing: 10 Things to Make

Our friends at Internet of things blog Hack Things put together a list of 10 practical things to make with a 3D printer. Here’s the practical 3D printing list.

After digging through ThingiverseShapeways and Ponoko, there are plenty of practical, every-day creations to justify the purchase of a 3D printer.

Here are ten practical things to make.

iphone case1) iPhone cases
At the Apple store even a bumper is going to cost you $30. With a 3D printer, you could print a new case design every week. And there are a lot of beautiful designs out there.

handle replacement2) Replacement parts
If you like to fix things, a 3D printer is magic. When a small plastic part breaks, you no longer have to throw the whole product away. This guy’s dishwasher had a broken handle, so he printed a new one.

macro lens3) Smartphone accessories
3D printers have come up with innumerable little ways to get more out of your smartphone, various stands, cord wrappers, sound amplifiers and camera attachments like this cheap and effective macro lens.

camera mount

4) Camera gear
Photographers are willing to spend serious money for the right gear, and manufacturers set prices accordingly. From tripod mounts to lens cap holders, camera buffs can 3D print inexpensive accessories made to fit their kit.

mudguard5) Bicycle accessories
Cyclists are already used to tinkering to get their bike perfectly in tune. A 3D printer opens up whole new opportunities. Create clips to attach to the frame, a carrying handle, or even a whole pedal.

anemometer6) Science
From a tray for washing microscope slides to custom lens mounts, you can 3D print whatever tools you need to do science. Good for the grad student on a budget, or for family science projects. You can even print this anemometer.


7) Wallets and purses
It turns out you can make a great wallet or an interesting purse out of plastic. Like the iPhone case, this really changes the way you think about these kinds of accessories. If you are making them yourself you can experiment with designs you might not buy in the store.

clock8) Clocks
A cheap quartz clock movement and a little 3D printing, and you have a beautiful clock. Pick from many styles.

toothbrush holder

9) Containers
Look around your house and you’ll probably find a lot of small plastic containers. You can print those, and tailor them to their purpose, like this toothbrush holder.

legos10) Legos
If you are a Lego fan (and if you are reading this, you probably are), imagine printing any shape you want and just plugging it directly into the Lego universe. I guess you could even print a Lego-compatible Yoda head.

Hack Things concludes:

Obviously if you want to mass produce something there are more efficient tools than a desktop 3D printer. The same could be said about printing with ink. If you want to publish a bestselling paperback, you don’t do that at home. But no one doubts the value of an inkjet printer.

All the hype aside, for small plastic parts, when you factor in shipping and customization, a home 3D printer actually makes sense today.

Nokia and MakerBot Showcase 3D Printing at Mobile World Congress

Nokia MakerBot 3D Printing MWC

Over 60,000 attendees flocked the Mobile World Congress 2013 conference as it kicked off today in Barcelona. All of the major handset manufacturers, TV suppliers, and mobile operators were there with large booths. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop introduced a new line of mobile phones during his keynote, and there was quite a crowd at the Nokia invite-only booth in Hall 8.

Well, we were there too. And so was 3D printer pioneer MakerBot with several MakerBot Replicator 2s on display.

Nokia MakerBot 3D Printing MWC

In January, Nokia announced a 3D printing development kit, or 3DK, encouraging people to hack their Lumia phone to create their own custom cases.

Today, Nokia showcased their new partnership with MakerBot on a 3D printing community project.

The 3D Printing Development Kit provides a 3D template and case specs for printing shell covers for two of Nokia’s latest smartphones – the Nokia Lumia 820 and the newly announced Nokia Lumia 520. Using the 3DK anyone with a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer can print their own shell. Nokia and Makerbot are demonstrating the exciting possibilities for 3D printing at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 25-28.

“Nokia provided the Lumia 820 specs, and MakerBot optimized them for printing the case on a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer. It’s a really cool shell that fits great,” noted Bre Pettis, CEO of MakerBot. ”You can print in Nokia PLA blue, translucent white, or in any of the other numerous PLA colors. The design has a cool imprint and an oversized Nokia logo on the back.” The Nokia Lumia 3D printing files are available on MakerBot’s Thingiverse.com and will also be optimized for customization through the MakerBot Thingiverse Customizer.

Nokia MakerBot MWC 3D Printing

Nokia is the first major phone company to release 3D templates for its hardware that can be printed on a 3D printer. It not only allows Nokia Lumia owners to personalize their phones, but brings Nokia into a whole new spectrum of innovation in the mobile phone category.

“Nokia’s design DNA is all about self-expression so getting involved in this community project is a natural extension of that philosophy,” said John Kneeland, a Nokia Community & Developer Marketing Manager. “3D printing is in an exciting development phase and we’re keen to help people explore this new technology.”

Mobile World Congress 3D Printing


Nokia’s 3D Printing Kit Lets Customers to Personalize Lumia Phone

Nokia Lumia 3DK 3D Printing

Finnish telecom firm Nokia is embracing 3D printing for to enable mass personalization of its marquee phone, the Lumia Series. The company has launched a 3D printing development kit, or 3DK, and is encouraging people to “hack their phone.”

Nokia published an interview with John Kneeland, a Nokia Community & Developer Marketing Manager based in Silicon Valley, who says, “You want a waterproof, glow-in-the-dark phone with a bottle-opener and a solar charger? Someone can build it for you—or you can print it yourself!”

John, what exactly is the Lumia 820 3D printing community project and what makes it so special?


Nokia’s 3D printing community project is a simple concept with exciting potential. Our Lumia 820 has a removable shell that users can replace with Nokia-made shells in different colors, special ruggedized shells with extra shock and dust protection, and shells that add wireless charging capabilities found in the high-end Lumia 920 to the mid-range 820.


Those are fantastic cases, and a great option for the vast majority of Nokia’s Lumia 820 customers. But in addition to that, we are going to release 3D templates, case specs, recommended materials and best practices—everything someone versed in 3D printing needs to print their own custom Lumia 820 case. We refer to these files and documents collectively as a 3D-printing Development Kit, or 3DK for short. (Editor’s note: They can be found herehere and here.)

In doing this, Nokia has become the first major phone company to begin embracing the 3D printing community and its incredible potential, and continue to be the leading phone company in this exciting field.

I view this as the spiritual successor to the great granddaddy of customizable phones, the Nokia 5110 and its rainbow collection of removable faceplates. To think, it’s been 15 years since the 5110 launched! I still remember using and loving its American cousin, the 5120.

How else is Nokia making use of 3D printing and what opportunities do you specifically see for mobile technology, both now and in the future?

Internally it helps us with rapid prototyping as we, to borrow Stephen Elop’s words, “increase the clock speed of Nokia.” In the future, I envision wildly more modular and customizable phones. Perhaps in addition to our own beautifully-designed phones, we could sell some kind of phone template, and entrepreneurs the world over could build a local business on building phones precisely tailored to the needs of his or her local community. You want a waterproof, glow-in-the-dark phone with a bottle-opener and a solar charger? Someone can build it for you—or you can print it yourself!

Kneeland closes with his thoughts on the 3D printing industry when asked if he believes the hype.

My own view is that the hype is justified, and that 3D printing is indeed A Very Big Deal. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call it the sequel to the Industrial Revolution. However, it’s going to take somewhat longer to arrive than some people anticipate, and that may disappoint people. For now, it’s a bleeding-edge technology for bleeding-edge early adopters—which is exactly where Nokia is aiming its 3D printing community efforts.


Read the full interview at the Nokia community site.