3D printers might sound like an incredibly niche bit of tech to have in your home. But the reality may surprise you. These printers, which were first sold commercially in 1984, are becoming more popular as their price tags recede. As specialist they might sound, 3D printers hold a surprising plethora of uses outside of designers creating prototypes. Why buy a household object online when you could just… print it? And then decorate it yourself?
In 2018, two million consumer 3D printers were sold worldwide. The 3D printing market, including printers used in businesses, is set to double in size every three years; the annual growth forecasted by analysts varies between 18.2% and 27.2%.
For individual use, getting your hands on a 3D printer has also never been easier. Amazon Prime ship a range of printers starting at £100 and climbing to £800 – many of these are delivered to your doorstep the next day.
While the initial cost of a 3D printer is pricy, running it uses far less energy than you might have thought. These printers use about 50 watts of energy per hour, whereas incandescent light bulbs use between 30 to 60 watts.
There are also lots of free templates on the web that detail the specifications for different designs, allowing you to print Yoda statues without spending ages on the metrics.
Here are five simple ideas for using a 3D printer to make everyday objects that will improve your home. The following creations can be made using an Anycubic I3 Mega printer.
Whether they are twitchers or not, lockdown has encouraged more people to stop and notice the birds. Move over Twitter, there’s a new tweeter in town. The best way by far to spot birds from your window is to provide them with food.
This bird feeder is sure to entice feathered friends to your garden or even just outside your home. It’s small enough to keep out pigeons and squirrels and also comes with drainage holes for when it rains. If you spray the feeder with primer first, you’ll be able to use acrylic paint to spruce up its look – this applies to all of the objects printed in plastic.
As this feeder is quite intricate, bear in mind that it could take up to two days to print.
There are so many different doorstop designs on Thingiverse it’s hard to know where to start. Standard designs are mixed in with whacky alternatives such as Hodor-engraved door stops, holey cheese and fox-shaped stoppers. All of these are free, with the option to tip the creators.
Don’t settle for loud banging doors with a mind of their own; don’t settle for a generic doorstop: choose one of the many creative designs to spice up your home.
Soap dishes add a touch of elegance to a bathroom. As you’ve probably guessed by now, there is a range of different soap container styles that you wouldn’t find in Ikea. This rabbit soap dish is adorable and this useful dish clips to the rail of your shower for maximum comfort. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Last, but by no means not least, is the kitchen staple: bottle openers. There’s nothing worse than forgetting this essential gadget when at a picnic. As more people will be socialising outdoors this summer, how about printing this small, handy bottle opener that attaches to your keys? You’ll never have to wrench open a beer with a coin again.
If you want to drink without moving from the sofa, this wall-mounted opener could be a real life-saver. Finally, this gun-shaped “shooting” device makes opening drinks into a fun game. Open the lid and aim it at a target to see who can score the highest. It’s easy to print, too.