Article by Richard Grisafi
I’ve had my Solidoodle 2 for just over a year now. Although I have a few other machines this one is my overall favorite because it’s the most versatile. People often ask me “What can you make with it?” so I figured I’d do a post about the top 10 coolest things I would like to make if I just purchased a 3D Printer.
To make this list the item has to be open, freely available, and able to print on the average 3D printer. While I think it’s fantastic that someone printed a castle out of concrete or real edible cookies, it’s not something you can do with off-the-shelf equipment today. Most if not all of these require other readily available hardware (Screws, threaded rod, electronics) however none require proprietary equipment. All designs are available on Thingiverse
10. The Plotclock – by Johannes (joo)
I thought this was such an incredibly unique clock and since they don’t sell anything like this you can bet that no one else has one. I could spend several minutes just watching it draw the time. The original Plotclock was made with laser cut components but it’s also available at Thingiverse in 3D Printer Friendly .STL format.
9. XL-RCM 10.0 PIXXY Pocket Drone / FPV Quadcopter – by David Lim (3dxl)
This is the smallest 3D printed quadcopter available at the time it was released. It weights about 40 grams and costs less than $100 to build. There are plenty of other quadcopters that have been open source however I chose this one because it is likely the cheapest and fastest to build. Those are two qualities I really appreciate.
8. Open Source Action Figure with 70 Points of Articulation – by Jason Welsh (jasonwelsh)
I’m not a big action figure guy. Even as a child I was never really into it. However even I can appreciate the detail and hard work that went into creating this. This figure, aka “Dexter”, stands at just over 18 inches tall which means you’re not going to finish printing this today – unless you happen to have 10 printers. This is the only item on this page that can be made without purchasing other hardware. The joints are held together with spikes made from PLA. The creator shows you how to make the spikes in a video. Very creative.
7. ESRA Talking Robot by RobodysseyBrian (RobodysseyBrian)
This is incredibly fun to do and I really want one. I found it especially interesting how he got the lips to move. I wouldn’t have thought of that myself but it really works. Keep in mind you’ll need 3 servos as well as a bunch of other hardware.
Also available are ESRA 3D Printed Arms and Neck
6. RepRapPro Tricolor Mendel by RepRap (RepRap)
What fun would having a 3D Printer be if you couldn’t print another 3D Printer. This is the RepRapPro Mendel. It has the ability to print in three different colors and a build volume of 210mm x 190mm x 140mm (8.27in x 7.48in x 5.51in). If you have a friend that needs a 3D Printer or just want to upgrade yours this is a great way to do it at a relatively low cost. Just keep in mind that you’ll need extra hardware since it’s not 100% 3D Printable.
Also see the Most Recent Build Instructions
5. OpenRC 1:10 4WD Truggy Concept Car by Daniel Noree (barspin)
While I’m not sure this is overly unique this made the list because I can really respect the quality of the design. This is a very beautiful RC car which is mostly 3D Printed.
4. Armdudroid – Open Source Arduino and Android Controlled Robot Arm by Luisma Whatakuai (whatakuai)
I’m not entirely sure I’m pronouncing this correctly but it’s certainly cool and admittedly I’m a sucker for robot designs. This fully functional arm uses an Arduino Uno, a sensor shield, 5 total servos and a Lipo battery in addition to the 3D Printed components. You will also need to download the Arduino code and Android App. The creator claims it is going to work with iPhone, Windows Mobile, and PC/MAC so follow this project if you are interested in those platforms.
The Arduino code and instructions are available at http://www.armdudroid.com/
3. 3D Printable Laser Cutter by Peter_ (peter_)
Now that you have a 3D Printer, maybe it’s time to print the components for a laser cutter. The 3D printer and laser cutter are rapidly becoming united technologies. I have both and although I enjoy the ability to print objects sometimes I need the accuracy of a laser cutter. This is the first release of the design which features a 1 sq meter cut area. It obviously needs lots of hardware as well as extruded aluminum for the build. The creator claims it’s 5-10% of the cost of a similar commercial unit so if you’re in the market for a laser cutter then this is worth looking into.
2. Spherebot by Boris Landoni (BorisLandoni)
Ever try stuffing a Christmas ornament in your printer? Me neither. If you build one of these you’ll be able to print onto round objects like Christmas balls, eggs, and basically anything else that’s small and spherical. If you’ve ever heard of the Eggbot by Mad Scientist Labs this is basically a 3D Printable Clone. I own an Eggbot so trust me, it’s a fun toy.
1. inMoov by Gael Langevin (hairygael)
I’ve saved the best for last. If you haven’t already heard of it, this is inMoov a 3D printable life-sized robot. This is a project that started in January of 2012 and although it’s not complete, the creator is continually updating it and adding new parts. The entire torso, head and arms are available for download. This is obviously not for the faint-of-heart and even with all the components and instructions it’s going to take you likely weeks to print. If you do nothing else today, please check it out because it’s a beautiful project with a high quality original design. You don’t have to be a mechanical engineer like myself to appreciate this but you will likely appreciate it even more if you are.
Please note that it’s made from many different parts and a search of “inMoov” on Thingiverse will provide you with all or at least most of the components. All components are free for non-commercial use so unless you’re trying to make money with this there is no need to worry about a lawsuit.
I hope you have enjoyed the article feel free to leave me a message in the comments or contact me