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Coolest Print-in-Place Models to 3D Print in 2020

Picture of Henry Haefliger
by Henry Haefliger
Mar 20, 2020
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3D models with moving parts are simply super cool. Choose the coolest from our list and 3D print your own print-in-place models!

Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

No Assembly Required

A print-in-place robotic gripper
A print-in-place robotic gripper (Source: Instructables)

Print-in-place models are fun and special 3D prints because they use various hinges, links, and joints to create moving parts that are printed in a single task.

Many print-in-place models can achieve an impressive amount of detail and still maintain a high degree of mobility. With this style, you can even print models that unfold to be larger than the size of your build plate!

We’ve gathered a list of some of the best print-in-place models currently out there, so read on and take your pick! We always encourage our readers to get out there and print, but, if you want to outsource any potential stress from 3D printing, try Craftcloud, the 3D printing and price comparison service from All3DP.

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Tips for Printing

Printing a print-in-place model
Printing a print-in-place model (Source: Shapeways)

Before we get to what you can print, we’ll first give you some tips for 3D printing print-in-place models successfully.

Not surprisingly, a model with moving pieces can be a bit more challenging to print than just a regular model. You’ll need to pay greater attention to the particulars when preparing:

  • Printer nozzle: Make sure you’re fully aware of your printer’s specifications. Your nozzle size should correspond to the detail you need in the part’s hinges.
  • Model scale: While it’s great to shrink models for a test print or just to have a mini version, it’s essential that you don’t make the model too small or the parts might get stuck together.
  • Supports: Pay attention to the temperature of your extruder. If you heat it too much, your printer might struggle with overhangs and links. You should also check where your slicer puts support material, as it might block a model’s joints.

And now, let’s get to the fun stuff: the models!

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Category #1: Animals

Flexi raptors will be climbing all over your house
Flexi raptors will be climbing all over your house (Source: Cavedog via Thingiverse)

Add a little more life to your biologically-inspired prints! Here are some of the coolest animal-themed print-in-place designs.

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Octopus

Cute mini octopuses that fit in your hand
Cute mini octopuses that fit in your hand (Source: McGybeer via Thingiverse)

Get a handful of these adorable aquatic animals!

You’ll be amazed by the legs on this little octopus. It has an incredible amount of flexibility for something printed in rigid filament.

Be careful with the scaling: Because of the small joints on the tentacles, we don’t recommend printing at less than 50% of the model’s original size.

Who designed it? Javi Rodríguez (McGybeer)

Who printed it? This object was printed by over 1,000 users! Many of them had trouble with the legs detaching mid-print, especially on scaled-down versions. This could be fixed by adding some kind of adhesive to the bed.

Where can you find it? Thingiverse

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Lizard

Articulated lizards for all your amphibian needs
Articulated lizards for all your reptilian needs (Source: McGybeer via Thingiverse)

Another fantastic model by the same designer as above. The rounded joints of this lizard allow its body and legs to simulate crawling. Soon, you’ll have these creatures climbing all over your walls.

Who designed it? Javi Rodríguez (McGybeer)

Who printed it? Over 500 users have printed these lizards. Most prints seem successful, including the scaled-down ones (80%) and the larger versions.

Where can you find it? Thingiverse

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Raptor

Image of: 3. Raptor
Raptors are coming for your bananas (Source: Cavedog via Thingiverse)

This awesome dinosaur is sure to please any Cretaceous enthusiast. Not only can it move in a range of ways, but its clawed arms also allow it to hang on to the edges of objects. Now you can have little raptors crawling all over your office! We challenge you to print a whole family.

Who designed it? Eric Bruns (Cavedog)

Who printed it? Over 150 users have printed these awesome creatures. Some commented that their printers were having a hard time with the tail, although this was fixed by slowing down print speeds.

Where can you find it? Thingiverse

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Animal Collection

Image of: 4. Animal Collection
This bunny is part of a collection of similarly-designed animals (Source: Katherine_Marguerite via MyMiniFactory)

This item is unique on the list as it isn’t just a single model, but rather a collection of commonly designed animals. After you’ve printed all of these little creatures, you’ll have a whole barnyard!

Who designed them? Kate Philips (Katherine_Marguerite)

Who printed them? The pictured model was downloaded over 50 times, but we didn’t see any makers posting their bunnies or other barnyard critters. The design seems pretty straightforward, though, so don’t worry about being the first!

Where can you find them? MyMiniFactory

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Category #2: Fidgets

Fidget cubes for all
Fidget cubes for all (Source: mathgrrl via Thingiverse)

Whether you’re waiting for a website to load or simply need something to keep your hands busy while binging Netflix, these little toys are sure to keep you occupied!

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Fidget Cube

Print a bowl-full of fidget cubes
Print a bowl-full of fidget cubes (Source: mathgrrl via Thingiverse)

Watch this cube fold and unfold into infinity. Mesmerize yourself further by gluing on pictures and watching them come together and separate. You could even give these out as party treats!

Who designed it? Laura Taalman (mathgrrl)

Who printed it? 68 users printed this. Some had trouble with the hinges fusing from overhangs collapsing. Decreasing the nozzle temperature should help with the bridging.

Where can you find it? Thingiverse

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Gyroscope Maze

This gyroscope maze will keep you busy for hours
This gyroscope maze will keep you busy for hours... probably (Source: JustinSDK via Thingiverse)

The interlocking rings in this compact toy provide endless activity for your fingers. Not only is this one of the most entertaining fidgets, it’s also small enough to easily carry in your pocket.

Add this portability to the endless combinations of mazes you can make with it, and you’ve got yourself the perfect toy.

Who designed it? Justin Lin (JustinSDK)

Who printed it? Makers printed this fidget more than 10 times. Some commented that their printers had problems with layers overlapping, which could be fixed by not scaling down the model.

Where can you find it? Thingiverse

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Gear Bearing

Let the rotating begin
Let the rotating begin (Source: emmett via Thingiverse)

This little set of rotating gears is another perfect portable fidget. The smooth-spinning gears are easily tucked away and there to keep you entertained.

Who designed it? Emmett Lalish (emmett)

Who printed it? Over 800 people have printed this popular fidget. Some users couldn’t get the gears to “break free” from the outer ring, although this is likely only an issue for those who tried to shrink the model.

Where can you find it? Thingiverse

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Category #3: Gadgets

Image of: Category #3: Gadgets
Deliciously functional! (Source: Keegan via Pinshape)

Here are a few prints to satisfy curious minds!

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Robotic Man

Keep extra snacks on hand with this robotic man
Keep extra snacks on hand with this robotic man (Source: Designs 82 via Cults3D)

This articulated humanoid robot could be the perfect toy for a child (or an adult!). It resembles an action figure in movement and appearance, but with one small difference: You can print it in a single piece. Try placing him in different poses!

Who designed it? Designs 82

Who printed it? While this model has been downloaded over 100 times, we couldn’t find any maker posts. Be the first and let us know!

Where can you find it? Cults

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Gear Keychain

Gear up for this awesome keychain
Gear up for this awesome keychain (Source: kasinatorhh via Thingiverse)

Add some spice to your keychain with this cool little toy. It’ll keep you entertained during your morning commute or any time you’re just standing around.

Who designed it? Karsten Gleu (kasinatorhh)

Who printed it? This keychain has been printed more than 10 times. While users seem to find it a bit tricky, using PLA and being extra careful with the temperature seems to make it work.

Where can you find it? Thingiverse

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Iris Box

Perfect for storing all your little odds and ends
Perfect for storing all your little odds and ends (Source: Frank26080115 via Pinshape)

This clever container is the ideal place for storing your small items. With a single twisting movement, you can open and close this box.

Who designed it? Frank26080115

Who printed it? We see 4 makers who have posted their boxes. The turning mechanism can be a little hard to move at times, which is why you need to chose your filament carefully and keep an eye on it expanding and retracting.

Where can you find it? Pinshape

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Category #4: Decorations

Careful of putting your finger near this chompy skull
Careful of putting your finger near this chompy skull (Source: Clockspring via Myminifactory)

Why settle for simply making things look nicer when you can also make them look cooler?

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Blooming Flower

Open and close this awesome flower
Open and close this awesome flower (Source: jhuttula via Pinshape)

This organic decoration will certainly be a nice addition to your home. With one twist, you can watch the flower bloom, and, with another, fold it back up.

Who designed it? jhuttula

Who printed it? With over 1,000 views, though no maker posts, this cool blooming flower is begging for someone to print it!

Where can you find it? Pinshape

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Wristband

Wear this on your wrist with pride
Wear this on your wrist with pride (Source: jake8898 via MyMiniFactory)

This simple wearable design could be a nice accessory for a watch band or as a base for another DIY project. Whatever you use it for, you can be sure you’ll get a good fit with this adjustable strap.

Who designed it? Jacob N. (jake8898)

Who printed it? Almost 200 people have downloaded this model, though no users have posted their makes yet.

Where can you find it? MyMiniFactory

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Skull

Two chompy skulls with nothing to eat
Two chompy skulls with nothing to eat (Source: Clockspring via MyMiniFactory)

Add some spook to your Halloween decorations or everyday life with this printed skull. The chattering teeth are sure to creep out any unsuspecting trick-or-treaters or regular visitors.

Who designed it? Clockspring

Who printed it? We can’t tell exactly how many people printed this, but everyone seems happy with their results.

Where can you find it? MyMiniFactory

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Category #4: Tools & Parts

Add some custom parts to your toolbox with these parametric hinges
Add some custom parts to your toolbox with these parametric hinges (Source: rohingosling via Thingiverse)

It’s always useful to be able to print out a spare part or add to your collection. Here’re a few with moving parts!

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Clamp

Clamp it down
Clamp it down (Source: Clockspring via MyMiniFactory)

Though a pain to set up, clamps just make so many things so much easier. This quick print is great for holding parts together, whether it’s while they’re bonding or while you’re working on them.

Who designed it? Clockspring

Who printed it? While no makers have uploaded their models, we’re confident that this one is a winner.

Where can you find it? MyMiniFactory

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Ball Bearing

A fully-assembled ball bearing
A fully-assembled ball bearing (Source: barspin via Thingiverse)

For small 3D printing projects or DIY woodworking, these bearings can really improve your rotating parts. Make sure you don’t overestimate the strength of your filament!

Who designed it? Daniel Noree (barspin)

Who printed it? 79 users have printed this. Some users had problems with the balls bonding to the two rings, but that can usually be fixed by lowering printing speeds.

Where can you find it? Thingiverse

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Coolest Print-in-Place 3D Models

Parametric Hinge

Parametric hinges in all sizes
Parametric hinges in all sizes (Source: rohingosling via Thingiverse)

These simple and sturdy parts go beyond just the regular fix. You can fully customize both sides of the hinge with different numbers of screw holes and multiple connections.

Who designed it? Rohin Gosling (rohingosling)

Who printed it? This handy tool has over 20 makes. Some users have reported bonding in the joints due to the overhangs collapsing.

Where can you find it? Thingiverse

(Lead image source: Fab3D via Adafruit)

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License: The text of "Coolest Print-in-Place Models to 3D Print in 2020" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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