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10 Best 3D Printed Gadgets to Make Life Easier

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by Bill Porter
Mar 15, 2019

So, you've burned through a reel of filament printing Benchys, calibration cubes, and Baby Groot pencil holders. What now? Why not make life simpler with one of these 3D printed gadgets?

Best 3D Printed Gadgets Rising to the Challenge

3D printed Baker Cube.
3D printed Baker Cube. Source: jasondelane / Thingiverse

After purchasing a 3D printer, the first thing many people ask is, “Now what?” Sure, it’s a great hobby, but shouldn’t you expect some kind of return on your investment? After you’ve learned how 3D printing works and you’ve developed some mastery of your machine, what’s next?

Great satisfaction can be found in utilizing everyday needs as a source of creative inspiration.  When you reach the point that you see every-day challenges as opportunities, you’re ready to delve into the world of 3D printed gadgets.

Gadgets are items — typically mechanical in nature — intended to meet a need or solve an issue. They can be as simple as a single all-in-one piece or a more complex design requiring some post-print assembly. Either way, they are meant to provide solutions to life’s little challenges.

Ready to answer the call but unsure where to begin? Try the following list: 10 sure-fire gadgets, tested and proven to be printable, practical, and generally awesome.

Best 3D Printed Gadgets 1. Paste Pusher Animals

3D print of the Hippo Paste Pusher.
3D print of the Hippo Paste Pusher. Source: Makeplace / Thingiverse

What is it? Our first gadget is a simple tube squeezer. No gears, no rollers, no hand crank. A flat piece that prints quickly without supports. It slides over the crimped end of the tube (whether it be toothpaste, cream, or gel) and is worked toward the cap as the tube’s contents are consumed. In its wake remains a paper-thin, completely flat, completely empty container. For the OCD “gifted” among us, it is truly a dream come true.

Who created it? Makeplace

Who printed it? This is a popular design. At last count, 343 Thingiverse users have printed this.

Where to find it? Thingiverse

Best 3D Printed Gadgets 2. Classic Soap Dish

3D printed soap dish.
3D printed soap dish. Source: Vlbot / Thingiverse

What is it? Let’s face it, no one likes picking up slimy soap. The simple job of lifting the bar to allow for air circulation not only prevents that gross reaction, but also makes your soap last longer. And while soap dish models appear in abundance on any 3D printing website, this one stands out for three reasons:

  1. One piece simplicity. Quickly printed and pressed into use.
  2. Scalability, because some bars are larger than others.
  3. Blunt design that won’t send you screaming into the night when you accidentally step on it in the shower.

Who Created it? Victor Lytsus

Who printed it? Multiple Thingiverse users

Where to find it? Thingiverse

Best 3D Printed Gadgets 3. Center Finder

The perfect shop tool, the center finder.
The perfect shop tool, the center finder. Source: Marius Hornberger / Thingiverse

What is it? A center finder is typically used to locate the exact center of a piece of round or square stock. The center finder is placed against the end of the stock. A pen, pencil, or scribe is then inserted into the longitudinal opening and a line is drawn across the face of the work piece. Rotate the stock 90 degrees and repeat and your center is found at the intersection of the two lines. Perfect for the workshop.

Who created it? YouTuber Marius Hornberger

Who printed it? This simple design has been replicated 7 times by Thingiverse users.

Where to find it? Thingiverse

Best 3D Printed Gadgets 4. 3D Scanner Platform

Hand-cranked 3D scanner platform.
Hand-cranked 3D scanner platform. Source: Dave Clarke / Thingiverse

What is it? The next 3D printed gadget is a hand-crank powered rotating platform for scanning in real-world objects for 3D printing. Made from user printed parts, you need only add a phone and viola!

Who created it? Dave Clarke

Who printed it? 97 reported makes by Thingiverse users

Where to find it? Thingiverse

Best 3D Printed Gadgets 5. Cellphone Dock & Play

Smart phone holder and charger duo.
Smart phone holder and charger duo. Source: Bernard Bout / Thingiverse

What is it? What better way to relax than to listen to some tunes while your phone gets a charge? This phone holder not only provides a charging station, but also uses a passive sound port to direct music toward you.

Who created it? Bernard Bout of Melbourne, Australia

Who printed it? 4 Thingiverse users have reported successful prints of this design.

Where to find it? This design is ready for immediate download on Thingiverse. If your taste leans more toward 21st century neo-minimalism, check out this basic charger base instead.

Best 3D Printed Gadgets 6. The Bakercube

The Bakercube kitchen measuring magician.
The Bakercube kitchen measuring magician. Source: Iomma / Thingiverse

What is it? The bakercube, an all-in-one measuring cup. Still trying to convince your significant other that all of those rolls of printer filament are an investment in the future? Tempt them with this kitchen wonder. It provides a single measurement source for every standard unit needed in basic food prep.

Who created it? Iomma of Rock Springs, Wyoming

Who printed it? Thingiverse reports 216 successful makes.

Where to find it? The STL file can be found on Thingiverse.

If you don’t really need a bakercube, at least go to YouTube and watch the hilariously informative test video.

Best 3D Printed Gadgets 7. The Butter Buddy

3D printer Butter Buddy in action.
3D printer Butter Buddy in action. Source: AdamStage / Thingiverse

What is it? Perfect gadget for the epicurious, the butter buddy protects stored butter from offending aromas lurking in the fridge. No more rancid flavor from a stick of butter whose bare end was left exposed to the air. The greatest as-never-seen-on-TV gadget yet.

Who created it? Adam Stager

Who printed it? 3 Thingiverse users have reported successful prints of the Butter Buddy.

Where to find it? Thingiverse

p.s. you might want to consider printing with a food safe filament if it’ll be in direct contact with your butter!

Best 3D Printed Gadgets 8. Scalable Printed Hinges

Hinges printed to order in various sizes.
Hinges printed to order in various sizes. Source: Rohin Gosling / Thingiverse

What is it? This parametric hinge file lets you make custom project hinges specific to your need. These scalable items are especially useful to modelers or anyone else needing a light live hinge, providing multiples or custom one-off units for any purpose.

Who created it? Rohin Gosling of Johannesburg, SA

Who Printed it? 17 Thingiverse users have successfully printed this design.

Where to find it? Thingiverse

Best 3D Printed Gadgets 9. The Bag Clip with Screw-On Cap

Next level chip clip with a screw-on cap.
Next level chip clip with a screw-on cap. Source: Phillip Seeliger / Thingiverse

What is it? While a bag clip is nothing new, one with a pour spout and convenient screw-on cap is, like the bag’s contents, totally fresh. Great for powdered, granular or other pour-able products.

Who created it? Phillip Seeliger, a computer science student from Germany

Who printed it? Thingiverse reports 8 users have printed this design.

Where to find it? Thingiverse

Best 3D Printed Gadgets 10. The Hive

Artwork with utility, Hive hex containers storage system.
Artwork with utility, Hive hex containers storage system. Source: Dan O'Connell / Thingiverse

What is it? The Hive is a container design that produces interlocking modular containers. Both beautiful and functional, Hive storage containers can be printed in any quantity and expanded as your storage/organization need grows.

Who created it? Dan O’Connell of the US

Who printed it? 98 Thingiverse makers have printed hives.

Where to find it? STL files and notes can be found on Thingiverse.

Best 3D Printed Gadgets A Never-Ending Supply

Two different designs of the Paste Pusher Animals.
Two different designs of the Paste Pusher Animals. Source: AlVaPa / Thingiverse

Every day, creative makers are offering up their best solutions for the 3D printing world to sample. Some of their awesome creations actually fill a need or solve real problems. Others are a little silly but still fun to print. Try a few from this list of 3D printed gadgets, then try spotting inspiration for your best creation.  And who knows? Maybe your design will make our next 10 Best list. Just be ready with an answer the next time someone asks you, “What is a 3D printer good for?

Feature image source: Various Thingiverse users

License: The text of "10 Best 3D Printed Gadgets to Make Life Easier" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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