3D printers are super tools to have in your home or workshop, but sometimes you find yourself just printing upgrades for the printer itself and nothing particularly useful in any other setting.
Plus, there’s probably your significant other who’s wondering why you’re spending so much money, and all this time… where are the truly useful 3D prints?
Well, consider this list a giant how-to to impress your SO with your 3D printing skills and make some really cool, useful, and functional 3D prints while you’re at it. When you’re done, check out our huge list of places to find free printable STL files and models.
Oh, and be sure to make it to the end for a bonus of our friend 3d printing a Melodica – a fully working musical instrument!
These prints will really change your life, we guarantee it!
52 Useful 3D prints
We’ve got to start with the classics, so it’s no surprise that tweezers are at the top of this list. These are one of the simplest things that you can design and print, and they make for a really cool beginner 3D print that comes in handy.
Sometimes you need a pair of tweezers and just can’t find them anywhere, so why not print them? You can also scale them to whatever size you need!
A great way to get your partner’s attention, this whistle will help you demonstrate that your $300+ 3D printer is useful for making $1 items 😉
Jokes aside, these whistles are a great demonstration of how you can print super functional items in very little time.
Maybe you’re a gym teacher and your favorite whistle broke, or you need something to call your pet with!
3. Self Watering Planter
We all would love an extra plant in the house but many of us tend to forget to water it regularly. A self watering planter is a really cool solution. You just fill water in it in advance and it will gradually water the plant over time.
You do need to remember to refill the planter every now and then, of course!
Can you buy this in a store? Sure! But printing it at home on your 3D printer? That’s cool!
4. Stackable Battery Holder
Do you have that one drawer in your house that’s full of batteries and knick-knacks? Maybe it’s time to clean up that drawer a little and make your batteries easier to access with this really awesome stackable batter holder.
You pull one battery out and another one is dispensed, ready for you to use whenever you need it. No more fiddling with packaging – 3D print this and just store your unused batteries in it.
5. Labyrinth Puzzle Box
If your family member or friend loves puzzles, this labyrinth puzzle box is an awesome way to give a gift. Just place a note or whatever you want inside, and close the box.
To open it, you’ll have to navigate a maze in order to get both halves separated.
It’s also great for fiddling around when you want something in your hands.
The best part is that it’s not too challenging to print and even a budget 3D printer should be able to handle it well enough.
A clamp is one of the most useful tools you can carry around, and being able to print one on demand is probably the coolest thing ever!
Gluing something together and need to hold it in place? 3D print a clamp!
7. Bag Clip
Who doesn’t love chips, right? But the worst part about opening a huge bag of chips has to be finding a way to reseal the bag so the chips don’t go stale.
Why not go ahead and 3D print a bag clip? This is easily one of the most useful things you can make, period.
Plus, you can just print them on demand! Did you throw a party and now have a lot of chip packets lying around? Why not print some clips?
8. USB and SD card holder
I lose USB drives faster than I lose the data I keep on them, so having a neat little holder to keep my USB drives organized and easily accessible is a huge advantage.
This USB and SD card holder is incredibly easy to 3D print and will save you a lot of headaches caused by rummaging through your drawers looking for your storage!
9. Swiss army style SD card holder
If you’re into photography or any other use case where you need lots of SD cards, I can’t think of anything cooler than this Swiss army style SD card holder. It’s a little challenging to 3D print as the tolerances are very tight, but if you can get it right, it’s a super cool thing to carry around in your pocket or as a keychain.
10. Soldering Jig
Anyone who has soldered will agree that it’s incredibly frustrating to try and hold wires in place as you solder them together. But if you don’t have the room on your desk for a giant soldering arm jig, this neat little gadget does the trick just fine!
The jig holds the wires in place and you just have to flow some solder onto it and voila! As an added plus, it’s very easy to print, and even the most basic 3D printer will be able to handle it.
Carabiners are pretty easily available anywhere, but this 3D printed carabiner is incredibly cool as you can just make one in a jiffy if you’re ever about to leave on a camping trip and don’t have time to stop for a carabiner.
They’re also very useful as keychains, and this part happens to be designed so well that it is remarkably powerful.
I wouldn’t recommend using it on your skydiving parachute, though…
12. Vacuum Toolheads
Another neat way to score points with your SO, these customizable 3D printed vacuum toolheads will help you get into those annoying nooks and crannies that collect dust but are impossible to reach.
Places like that small gap between the armoire and the bedside drawers that happen to be a graveyard for coins, for example!
The cool thing about these toolheads is that they are fully customizable and you can make any shape that you need for your particular use.
13. Cable management hive
With all the devices we have these days, it’s no surprise that we’re totally inundated with cables of all shapes and sizes. What’s more, cables have a nasty habit of tangling themselves up if left in a drawer for too long!
This super useful cable management hive lets you organize your cables in a neat and accessible way. You can place it right side up or upside down, or even flat on the table.
14. Sunglasses Visor Clip
This is a feature we wish all cars had, but it seems the manufacturers have not gotten the drift yet. Just 3D print this neat little visor clip that you can attach to your sun visor and you have a really functional little device to hold your sunglasses in place!
So next time you’re driving west on an afternoon after work, you can wear your sunglasses, and the moment you turn away and need to put your glasses away, you can just clip it to the visor instead of throwing them on the passenger seat.
15. Sweep Stand for Photography
Have you ever wondered how photographers manage to get those really cool white backgrounds, especially if they don’t have any studio equipment? Now you can turn your office desk into a photo studio with this neat little sweep stand.
Just attach a piece of white paper(or any other color for the background you need) and place the object in front, and click away.
This stand is really easy to 3D print and any printer can handle it like a champ.
15. Jig for keeping cables in corners
This handy little 3D print helps you route cables along your walls. It’s easy to attach cables to walls, but they always tend to bulge out a little on the corners as it’s difficult to get them in that right angle position.
Just 3D print this little device that fits neatly into your corner and run your wires through it for incredibly neat cable management in your home!
16. Shopping bag handle
We all like to minimize the number of trips from the car to home after grocery shopping, but carrying so many heavy bags can really dig into your fingers.
This neat little handle distributes the weight of the bag across a large surface area so it doesn’t dig into your hands as much, and it will seem a lot more like carrying a small suitcase!
17. Tape dispenser
This tape dispenser helps turn any roll of tape into a lean mean packaging machine. It’s also very useful if your dispenser broke and you need another one.
18. Drilling guide and dust collector
I always put down a mat or something before I drill any holes in the wall, but even then, some dust manages to find it’s way onto the carpet never to be seen again, even if you use the most powerful vacuum in the world.
This neat 3D print is a two-in-one lifesaver that helps guide your drill straight and collects dust in a little tray.
How cool is that!
19. Business card case
Even though most people have online portfolios, there’s still an air of professionalism with a good ol’ business card that hasn’t lost its charm.
How about a really neat business card case to carry your cards in? Not only will you be able to impress your clients with your already-cool card, but you’ll have a really awesome holder to show off as well!
Lithophanes are perhaps my favorite 3D printed gift idea. Lithophanes work by converting a photograph into a 3D printable file. Once you print the final product and hold it up into light, the picture magically appears in grayscale glory.
You can print flat lithophanes as well as round ones that you can place a light inside of.
21. Puzzle Cube
This puzzle cube is a really neat design and worth keeping on your desk for those times when you’d like to fidget around, or give someone in your office something to fidget with.
It’s fairly easy to print but very challenging to put together until you get the hang of it!
22. Pen holder
While we’re on the topic of office stuff, this pen holder is a really nice addition to any desk. It’s got a neat coral design and has lots of slots for plenty of writing instruments.
It’s a rather long print, so if you want your 3D printer to pull an all-nighter, this is the print to do it with.
23. Chess set
How cool is a customized chess set? Not only would it make for a really neat addition to your own collection, but it’s an incredibly personalized and thoughtful gift for the chess lover in your family and friends.
This is a challenging 3D print as there are many parts: will you print them all in one go, or do them separately?
Plus, you can scale up each part as much as you like, so if you had the patience and the space, you could even make a huge one foot+ chesspiece on a big enough printer!
24. Car seat trash bag holders
Road trips are fun but really messy, as we tend to generate a lot of trash! There’s food wrappers, paper cups, and napkins, not to mention so much more nasty stuff you throw out during a long ride in the car.
These trash bag holders are super useful 3D prints that you can attach to the back of the driver and passenger seat to easily hang up a trash bag.
25. Turbine Faucet
Leaving the faucet on for even a short time uses a shockingly large amount of water. This turbine faucet is meant to increase the force and volume of the water by mixing air into it – this way, you get the same feeling when you wash your hands or brush your teeth, but you use significantly less water.
How awesome is that?
26. One handed bottle opener
How many times have you wanted to grab a cold drink from the fridge but could not for the life of you find a bottle opener in your kitchen drawer?
This neat one-handed bottle opener is the solution to your problems!
27. Eyeglasses stand
I have a pretty high prescription and it’s never fun to fumble around the bedside table looking for my glasses in the morning. This really cool eyeglass stand is a great solution to hang your specs for easy storage and access in the morning.
It has a very elegant design and makes for great decor as well.
28. Digital Sundial
This has to be one of the coolest designs I have ever seen. It may not be as “useful” as the other 3D prints we’ve listed here but damn it is COOL.
Depending on the time of day and the way the sun’s rays enter the sundial, a shadow of the time (an approximation) is cast on the surface below it.
This is just an amazing design that has had a lot of hard work and effort put into it!
Word of warning: Leaving a PLA sundial out in the heat will cause it to deform. Print this in ABS or PETG.
29. Toothpaste pusher
Do you and your SO have differing philosophies as to how toothpaste should be pushed out of a tube? One of you probably squeezes from the bottom up, and the other probably grabs and squeezes wherever convenient.
These toothpaste pushers will help bring order into chaos – just slide the pusher up as you go along to extract as much toothpaste as you need.
30. Screw-on citrus juicer
This 3D print is brilliant – if you don’t want to invest in a proper juicer or you have a hankering for fresh citrus juice and Amazon won’t deliver until the day after, just print one of these and screw it on to a bottle and start juicing!
Make sure to clean it really, really well, as 3D prints are slightly porous and sugars from the juice can get stuck in the pores.
31. Bladeless Fan
If you’re up for a bit of a project and don’t want to drop $200 on a bladeless fan, why not 3D print one of your own? The mechanism is fairly straightforward, and assembling this little bladeless fan is very easy.
It’s also a fun project to do with the kids.
32. Coffee clip
Buying freshly roasted coffee is awesome, but all roasters seem to have their own fancy ways of resealing the bag, and pouring beans out of the bag is rather difficult.
This ingenious design clips on top of your coffee bag and has a screw-on cap that lets your pour coffee beans out with ease and reseal the bag once you’re done to preserve freshness.
33. Can handle
Sometimes you just want to drink from a can and a mug at the same time. Not to worry, this 3D printed can handle can clip onto your can and make it feel like you’re drinking from a big mug instead!
34. Nintendo Switch Grips
I love my Nintendo Switch, but it’s not always very easy to play on for extended periods of time as it tends to slip out of my hands. These 3D printed grips make the Nintendo Switch much easier to hold.
35. Switch Safety
This switch protector is incredibly brilliant and simple that you can 3D print on pretty much any 3D printer. This switch protector helps prevent accidentally turning the switch on by making you move the clip before flipping the switch on.
36. QR Code Coaster
One of the best ways to show off your tech-savviness is by printing these QR code coasters. You’ll need to generate a custom QR code for your WiFi, of course, but then just print away!
For those of us who don’t have a dual 3D printer, you can just print in black and place the code on a light background for your friends’ phones to pick the QR code up.
37. Peep hole cover
There’s this paranoia that I have (and I’m sure that some of you have as well) that people can peep in through your peep hole as well.
Well, worry no more! Fix your peep hole paranoia with this really awesome peep hole cover. Just close it when you’re not using it, and when the doorbell rings, open, peep, and close!
38. Faucet handle
Older homes tend to have these classical faucet knobs that can be a pain to turn especially if your hands are sticky or dirty. These articulated faucet handles are incredibly useful 3D prints that you can use to open your faucets with ease.
How cool would it be to 3D print your own furniture! These lampshades may look complex but they’re very easy to print. Turn your boring hanging bulbs into exciting pieces of home decor with these 3d printed lampshades.
Remember to use these with LED bulbs as tungsten bulbs can get hot enough to deform PLA.
40. Battery adaptor
Interestingly enough, AA and C batteries produce the same amount of voltage, so you can use AA batteries in place of C batteries as long as you can get the battery to snap in place.
These incredibly practical 3D printed battery converters can help you use older appliances with smaller batteries.
41. Hot/cold water mixer
Many countries have two separate faucets for hot and cold water, so you have to choose between burning yourself or getting frostbite.
This mixer lets you use both taps together and get nice warm water every time.
Note that this particular model was custom designed for this tap, so you would need to adjust the measurements to fit your tap.
42. Air vent dryer for shoes
This air vent shoe dryer is not entirely 3D printed, as it requires 1 1/2″ PVC pipes too, but the idea is just brilliant. The mount is 3D printed, which fits on the air vent. Then you insert PVC pipes to route the airflow, and you can fit any wet stuff on the pipes to help dry them out quicker.
43. Custom clipboard
If you have to juggle a lot of things for work, this customized clipboard is a really cool idea! Just grab a regular clipboard and screw on your custom brackets, and you’ve got this awesome 3D printed clipboard ready to go.
44. Headphone holder
This 3D printed headphone holder is super cool. It’s more for decoration rather than functionality, but it makes for a really cool addition to an office space to hang headphones from.
45. Credit card quarter holder
When I was a kid, I always needed a wallet that had a little coin pouch thanks to all the change I’d end up with. Now my wallets don’t have change pouches, but it’s incredibly inconvenient to carry change!
This customized quarter holder is really awesome as quarters can snap into it and you can slide it into the card slot in your wallet.
What a useful 3D print!
46. Furniture arrangement tester
This one requires a lot of design work on your hand, but it saves you a lot of back pain from rearranging your furniture multiple times before getting a setting that you like.
Make a scale model of your room and furniture and move the pieces around to visualize how they’ll look before committing to an arrangement!
47. Jug for bagged milk
If you live in Canada where you buy milk in bags instead of cartons, this really neat jug is a great way to get out of a pinch if you can’t find your jug and need milk!
48. Sander bricks
Sandpaper is incredibly finicky to use without any support, so these 3D printed sanding blocks are super practical and useful 3D prints.
You’ll get a really strong grip and be able to use sandpaper much more effectively.
49. Window switch cover
There’s nothing more annoying than driving only to suddenly have someone (a pet or a child) roll the window down! These switch covers block the window switch from access.
50. Seasoning holder
To make better use of your kitchen cabinet space and make your spices more accessible, this seasoning holder can save the day!
51. Kitchen drawer organizer
My kitchen drawer organizer always slides to the back of the drawer. But with this you can print it to the exact size and needs of your drawer.
Of course, if you’d rather just buy one here’s a list of great kitchen drawer organizers that our friends at Culinary Ambition wrote.
52. A 3d Printed Mechanical Keyboard
When you’re ready to up your keyboard game you can print a custom mechanical keyboard case. And when you’re ready to fill it with components, be sure to check out how to build a custom mechanical keyboard.
Bonus 1: A 3d printed melodica
A melodica is a cross between a wind instrument and a piano. I’ve never seen one but my friend over at Melodica World made an entire, working, 3d printed musical instrument.
When he sent it to me I literally wrote back “holy [crap], that’s so cool I have to share it!”
Check it out, enjoy, and check out his site to learn more about this strange and wonderful instrument.
These are just 50 out of hundreds of potentially useful 3D prints that are out there. These just happened to be our favorites, and I’ve personally printed more than 30 of these and put them to good use.
If you need to convince someone of the utility of a 3D printer, remember to share this page!
PS – If you need a printer, check out these superb budget 3D printers.