One of the best things about owning a 3D printer is having the ability to make a seemingly endless supply of unique and personalized items whenever you want. This is especially useful during special occasions when you can skip the stores by making your own 3D printed gifts for your loved ones.
We’re about to take a look at some of the best 3D printed gifts you can make yourself, so if you’re struggling for inspiration for your next anniversary, birthday gift, or Christmas gifts, keep reading!
The Best 3D Printed Gifts in 2023
3D printed gift boxes, jewelry boxes, puzzle boxes, and locking boxes are all great gift ideas on their own, but they can also be used to wrap or package other gifts inside them. A puzzle box with a heartfelt note or piece of jewelry inside is an excellent anniversary or Valentine’s Day gift for a partner.
3D printed jewelry and trinket boxes range from simple to ornate. Some can even be customized by adding names or monograms. Puzzle boxes are one of the most fun 3D printed gift ideas because they not only hold your intended gift, but they also offer the experience of having to solve the puzzle to reach the gift.
Even if you choose to print a simple gift box, it can double as its own 3D printed gift. The present box pictured above is an excellent 3D printed gift idea for any Animal Crossing fan. It’s based on the floating present from the game and makes a great display prop once the holidays are over.
Jewelry is a classic gift option for your partner or parent. Birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day are popular and traditional occasions to gift jewelry, though any occasion works when the recipient is fond of it.
3D printing jewelry is a great way to give your loved ones a unique gift. It is also a more affordable option for jewelry since it is generally quite expensive, and the cheaper options are usually made from low-quality or dangerous materials. Making something yourself is a much safer option. However, there are some things to consider before 3D printing any jewelry.
Jewelry requires a lot of fine details. Traditional FDM 3D printing with materials like PLA or ABS is going to look too unrefined for jewelry in most instances.
Using a resin 3D printer is the preferred method thanks to its higher print resolution. Resin is also a common material used in commercial jewelry, so it won’t seem out of place for your 3D printed Christmas gifts.
3D printing technology is especially popular for making kitchen items like cookie cutters and dough stamps for how easy it is to design and print more interesting offerings than what is usually available commercially.
3D printing also makes it possible to customize cookie cutters and stamps with names or dates, which makes them an excellent choice for a one-of-a-kind gift for birthdays, baby showers, baby’s first Christmas, and anniversaries.
You should always be careful when making (or gifting) anything that will come into contact with food. 3D printed items are usually not food safe, even if they are printed with a food-safe filament.
You can learn more about the potential issues with 3D printed objects and food contact in our article on PLA and food safety. There you can also learn how to seal or treat your prints to combat those issues.
Miniatures & Figurines
3D printed miniatures and figurines (especially for tabletop gaming) are extremely popular 3D printing projects, and they make some of the best 3D printed gifts for anyone interested in gaming. Some of these models are incredibly detailed, so while it is possible to use an FDM printer, you’ll get the best results from using an SLA resin printer.
These figures are meant to be painted (usually with high levels of detail). Depending on the recipients’ interests, these may be something that you can print and gift plain or they may be something you paint and finish yourself before gifting them.
In addition to figurines, terrain tiles and bases are also excellent 3D printed gift ideas for tabletop gamers. Since they can easily print on an FDM 3D printer, they are a great option if you don’t have access to a high-resolution resin printer.
Decorations like planters, vases, lamps, picture frames, and even the aforementioned figurines make excellent 3D printed gifts for almost any occasion. Like with miniatures, you can choose whether or not to finish off these pieces with sanding and painting (and perhaps a plant for the planters) or let them stay unvarnished.
You can also elevate these 3D printed gifts by giving them already filled. Choosing a specific plant for the planter, gifting a 3D printed vase with roses or other flowers already in it, or adding a meaningful picture to a 3D printed picture frame are all ways to make the best 3D printed gifts even better.
Television & Film Props
For fandom-savvy gift recipients, props or cosplay pieces from their favorite tv show or movie series are the best 3D printed gifts. Star Wars, Harry Potter, and the MCU are some of the most common franchises for props, but you can usually find at least a few 3D printed gift ideas available for the lesser popular shows and movies.
Props require a lot of post-processing since they typically need to be sanded and painted to look as close to the original as possible. This can be extremely time-intensive, so consider that when choosing the best gift ideas for your friends and family members (especially if you need to make multiple gifts for the holiday season).
You can learn more about things like 3D printed helmets and armor in our dedicated guides. And if you aren’t sure whether or not your 3D printer has the right features and capabilities for printing props, you can check out our article on the best 3D printers for cosplay.
3D printed RC models are some of the best gifts you can give since they offer hours of fun and playtime. Commercial RC vehicles can be pretty limited in design and capability, so 3D printing your own RC model is a great way to add a personal touch to a present for a friend or family member.
3D printed RC vehicles are a unique gift idea because you have so many options available to you. Not only can you choose one of several available 3D model sets already available, but you can also design your own for even more of a personal touch. You can modify existing models by scaling them up and down as well and make extremely large-scale RC vehicles that would otherwise be quite expensive to purchase premade.
RC models will require some knowledge of electronics since you will be adding all the inner components yourself. If you aren’t familiar with those concepts, try to choose a 3D model that has detailed assembly instructions available.
When you are looking for the perfect gift idea for friends or family, personalized 3D printed gifts are a great option. You can create all sorts of objects with something personal to them added in by using customizable 3D models or by creating your own. Adding their name, using their photos in a lithophane (as pictured above), or adding some text or design meaningful to them can add just the right amount of personal touch to make it extra meaningful.
Things like a customizable phone case, lithophane lamp, keychain with their name on it, picture frames, or a desk organizer with their name or logo on it are just a few examples of the personal 3D printed gifts you can create for people.
3D Printed Games
Another possibility for a 3D printed gift is making a game. Since you can make the game pieces, board, and case all with your printer, this opens up a lot of possibilities for kids and adults alike. You can make classics like special chess sets, Battleship, Chinese checkers, and more. You can also gift your friend or family member a totally new game that has been designed and posted to one of the sites with free 3D printer files.
If you want to make an already excellent gift even more unique, you can also design your own game, making the gifted person one of the first to get to play it. As long as you keep the idea and game pieces simple, you shouldn’t have too many issues designing it, even if you are a novice at CAD and other 3D modeling software.
When you need a Christmas or birthday gift for one of the kids (or kids at heart) in your life, a 3D printed toy can be a great present. Articulated print-in-place toys, fidget toys, train sets, toy cars, and hobby accessories for things like their dolls, toy kitchens/workbenches/etc. are all great gift ideas for this category.
3D printed gifts aren’t ideal for very young kids who still like to put random objects in their mouths. This isn’t good for many of the same reasons 3D printed objects aren’t safe for food contact (bacterial growth and potential contaminants like heavy metals), but it can also raise safety concerns due to choking.
If you plan to give 3D printed gifts to kids, it might be a good idea to coat them with some sort of food-safe sealant like a food-grade epoxy resin. This will ensure that bacteria can’t form between the layers and any unsafe additives or contaminants from either the hotend or the filament.
Easter isn’t usually a gift-giving occasion to the same extent Christmas and birthdays are, but there are still ways you can add a personal touch to the holiday with 3D printed gifts like eggs, small containers for storing or hiding candy, or small Easter-themed toys.
Egg containers with an internal screw thread (like the one pictured above) are just one example of the many possibilities for making the small treats associated with the holiday more exciting. These 3D printed eggs in particular are an excellent choice because they are pretty enough to be displayed and generic enough that they can be used year-round.
Video Game Items
When you need gift ideas for a video game enthusiast, you should be able to find plenty of possibilities for the best 3D printed gifts. Props, cosplay accessories, toys, decorations, and housewares are just some of the possible gifts you can create with your 3D printer.
Gaming consoles like the Nintendo Switch also have a lot of accessories you can 3D print that are sure to be appreciated by most gamers. Fun storage solutions for cartridges, alternate grips for the joy-cons or controllers, and special docks or stands are some of the more practical gaming gifts you can print.
Making miniature or portable versions of gaming consoles is also a popular project, though that is a little more difficult than printing off a Guardian planter or toy Pokeball. Running an emulator through a Raspberry Pi to make a retro console is one of the more popular Raspberry Pi projects that would undoubtedly delight any gaming nerd you gift it to.
Valentine’s Day Gifts
Valentine’s day is a holiday known for short-lived gift ideas like candies and flowers. If you want to give a gift with more longevity, your 3D printer can help you put a timeless spin on several different traditional Valentine’s gifts.
3D printed gifts like roses and other flowers are a unique way to give your loved one a symbol of the holiday in a way that will last for a long time to come. Geared heart toys, jewelry, and personalized objects with your names on them together are other common 3D printed gift ideas for Valentine’s day.
Following the suggestion we made above about gifting a 3D printed planter or vase with a plant or flowers already in it also works well for a Valentine’s Day gift.
If you need any help getting into the holiday spirit, you can try your hand at making any of the countless 3D printed Christmas gifts available on any of the 3D model sharing sites like Thingiverse or My Mini Factory. You’ll find models of everything from tree toppers, ornaments, advent calendars, stocking hooks, and more.
Making your own Christmas decorations (or gifting them to someone else) is an easy way to add a personal touch to the holidays. Whether it’s through a personalized ornament or choosing a nerdy tree topper over a traditional option, you can make almost anything you need for the holidays with your 3D printer.
Finding a good housewarming gift can be difficult, especially when you don’t want to use the generic options available in stores. Making a 3D printed gift yourself not only adds a personal touch to the special occasion, it means you can tailor it specifically to the recipient’s tastes and interests.
Decorations like 3D printed lamps, vases, planters, and props all work well as a housewarming gift. You could also 3D print an interesting key ring hanger to put by their door as a thoughtful gift for the occasion. Keys are often used as a representation of someone’s home, so giving them a place to hang up their keys in their new home is a great way to recognize the new phase of their life.
Spooky Halloween Items
Halloween is a holiday that many people love to go all out for. They turn their homes and yards into spooky (or even downright horrifying) scenes with all sorts of props and decorations, make or buy elaborate costumes to dress up in, and buy plenty of treats and toys for kids to binge on.
You can use your 3D printer to make Halloween even more memorable and unique by 3D printing spooky props, making your own costume with custom accessories and pieces, and making custom treat containers to give out candy and toys.
3D printed props are great for large-scale decorating projects where you need several big decorations like tombstones, realistic skeletons, or hands like the ones pictured above.
Making them yourself as 3D printed gifts is often cheaper and the end results are usually higher quality than Halloween decorations you find in the store, but it is quite time-consuming.
Kit cards are a fun and well-loved 3D printing project that started as a way for makers to create their own business cards in a way that shows off the uniqueness of 3D printing. They are thin models that share the dimensions of a business card and easily fit in your wallet.
The kit cards are usually small model kits that need to be carefully removed from the card and assembled. The finished model can be anything from model planes to realistic dinosaur skeletons to fidget toys. Not only are they easy to print, but they also make excellent gifts when you need something small for several people.
Kids in particular love putting them together. This makes them a great stocking stuffer, Halloween or easter treat, or prize for other special occasions. Some of the models even let you customize text on the cards. This means you can add a name or a meaningful message to them, making them one of the best 3D printed gifts that are personalized and easy to make.
If you need a gift for a book lover, bookends are a great option. Not only do they help keep their bookshelves tidy, but they also serve as another decoration to showcase their style and interests to guests. 3D printing a set and even designing some yourself is fairly easy since most of the models are just flat extrusions.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing the print settings for your bookends is that they are meant to hold up fairly heavy objects. Increasing the infill and even adding weighted objects into the infill holes during printing are just a few ways to make them heavier.
Phone and Tablet Stands
Another excellent option for 3D printed gifts is stands for tablets and phones. They are an especially good choice if the person in mind uses their phone or tablet a lot. There are numerous different models available on model sharing sites that range from compact and folding to large and decorative.
One thing you need to consider when choosing a model for a tablet or phone stand is whether it is fully 3D printed or if it needs additional hardware and tools. The adjustable models are usually the ones that need outside parts and hardware (though there are fully 3D printed options available) to help them move.
If you’re 3D printing it as a last-minute gift, the fully printed versions are the easiest options.
Like the book ends, they are meant to support an object much heavier than themselves and sometimes need extra stability. Adding more infill to the print or adding weighted objects to the inside of the print are two ways to add more density to the print. This helps ensure it won’t tip over once a tablet or phone is placed on it.
Making your own 3D printed gifts for friends and family is an easy way to make your holidays more meaningful. Whether it’s for a birthday or anniversary, or a mainstream holiday like Christmas, Easter, or Mother’s/Father’s Day, DIY gifts give you more flexibility to give everyone something they’ll love than when buying something from the store.
No matter if you are looking for 3D printed Star Wars gifts, jigsaw puzzles, or a customizable phone case, this gift guide should have given you more ideas that are not only fun but also practical.
What did you think of our list of the best 3D printed gift ideas? Let us know in the comments!