One of the struggles of owning a 3D printer is deciding what cool prints to make next. With so many 3D model sharing websites, there are endless 3D print ideas to try.
In this article, we’ll give you our top picks for the coolest 3D printer projects and show you where you can find the models you need.
Top 3D Printing Projects and Ideas in 2021
This two-player elastic football game uses rubber bands to make the player pieces flexible in order to manipulate the small ball across the printed field. The sides of the playing field have an abacus-style point counter for both players and a lever to control the goalie piece on the back.
Mechanical Wall Clock
Clocks are fairly complex and cool in general, but 3D printed clocks like this one by Hairald are especially interesting to look at. This design is fully printed and does not use any electronics or batteries.
The mechanism uses a wind-up method with a hand crank and a hanging weight to move the gears using the force of the falling weight. You can watch a video of this particular clock in action here.
Squid Game - Front Man Mask
Articulating Raspberry Pi Camera Mount
While the best 3D printers come with a built-in camera option for creating time lapse videos and remotely monitoring prints, you can also add this functionality to any 3D printer that does not natively have it.
This articulated camera mount uses a Raspberry Pi controller to bring a fully flexible camera option for remote viewing, time lapse recording, or taking stills of your prints as they are in progress.
Original Simpsons TV
Keep a little ode to the Simpson’s on your shelf or desk with this miniature recreation of the original TV set from the show.
This design uses a Raspberry Pi and other inexpensive components to create a working miniature television screen that plays videos on loop.
Charger Cable Organizer
The only thing more annoying than an unorganized wad of chargers and cables is a tangled unorganized wad of chargers and cables. These printable organizers store your chargers when not in use, keeping them tidy and protected from other cords.
They work like small spools, letting you unwind the charger only as far as you need. When you’re done using the cable, you just twist the lid to wind the cord back up.
Screw Measuring Tool
Nothing slows you down more than a container full of mixed-together mystery screws and bolts. This screw measure tool is easy to print and has all the most common bolt and screw sizes to help you quickly identify the size and type of errant bolts, screws, or nuts.
Rugged Desktop Organizer
Both functional and beautiful, this giroid vase is a fast and easy print project that doesn’t require any supports or serious post-processing work.
If you don’t intend to use it with water (such as when using silk flowers), it’s ready to use right off the build plate. However, if you plan to use it as a traditional vase, it is best to spray it with some sort of sealant to keep the water from leaking through the print layers.
You’ll need to move the zen garden on your office desk, because this printed marble maze is the clear cure for office boredom. Fully printable (aside from the marble, of course) and easy to assemble, this design uses snap-together ball and socket joints on the parts to avoid glue or other adhesives.
Cute Caravan Birdhouse
Camping enthusiasts rejoice: now the wildlife can also enjoy the charm of a vintage camper with these cute caravan birdhouses. You’ll need to 3D print the two colors separately before gluing the 3D prints together for a cute two-toned effect. This build fits on most print bed sizes.
Add a little pop art to your work or living space with the drippy bucket. Printed as three separate pieces, the handle and paint drips both snap onto the main bucket without glue or screws required. It’s the perfect container for pens, dice, or even loose change.
Not only is this fractal vise model extremely cool-looking, it is also an incredibly useful tool once fully assembled.
This project requires quite a bit of hardware, including multiple sizes of bolts and screws, as well as lengths of both smooth and threaded rods. Assembling the vise is also quite time-consuming, but the designer thankfully has a video tutorial outlining the whole process.
This hand-powered squeeze fan is as useful as it is fun. Using the handle pushes the inner gears and turns the propellers. This design is perfect for camping trips, emergency kits, and other scenarios where power or batteries might be hard to come by.
With the pandemic still in full swing, personal protection equipment is as important as ever. This basic face shield was designed by the Prusa research team and gained EU certification as a viable personal protection tool.
Whether you are still looking for protective methods from COVID-19 or work in an industry that requires face shields, this model is fast and easy to print.
Lithophane Moon Lamp
If you think this is a basic miniature car model, think again. Assembled with only a handful of screws, the Landy Mini has a fully functioning suspension system.
Though it’s a bit time-consuming to print and assemble, the Landy Mini is a fun and well-designed project that would look great on a desk or shelf in your home or office.
Based on the split-flap displays of the past, this model uses a handful of components and a wireless adapter to make a DIY digital split-flap display that connects to your network. You can program it to work as a clock, calendar, message board, or whatever else you can think of.
Inspired by the Da Vinci Code, this cryptex has a small compartment to hide things like candies, jewelry, or notes inside. You can program the cryptex to open for a specific series of letters, much like a combination lock.
While this is in no way a secure place to store anything valuable (it is printed from plastic, after all), it’s a funny way to keep coworkers out of your sweets, to give someone a gift, or to play a game with your kids.
A stark improvement on the chip clips of old, this clip prints in place with minimal supports. It uses a three-hinge system, so it stays on the bag more securely without slipping off. If you want something that will be quick and easy to print, this is a great option.
Rotating Rings Toy
The mantis clamp is an interesting take on a vise design, using a hand crank and gears to tighten and loosen the clamp. As illustrated in the photo below, that makes it a handy device for holding up small things like electronics components, painting miniatures, and so on.
This fine-detailed Deadpool bust is a great novelty item for any Marvel fan. Printing this model in 3D printer resin on a resin 3D printer maintains the model’s high level of detail, whereas using a metallic filament like CopperFill or BronzeFill on a fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer will give it the appearance of a metal cast statue.
Avocado Seed Floater
Sprouting avocado seeds is a little more delicate than just dropping them in some potting soil and hoping for the best. They need to be partially submerged in water for several days for the pits to start growing a sprout. Luckily, this is easy to control with this 3D printed seed floater.
Drill Depth Stop
When you need a specific stopping point for your drill bit, these printable drill depth stops are an easy and economical way to keep your drill from going too deeply into your material.
The model offers a variety of sizes that correspond with popular drill bit dimensions, so you should be able to find one that suits your needs regardless of which drill bit size you use.
Unlike the other clock we shared in this list, this beautiful design is a fully functional wall clock with added electronic components. This clock has a lot of different pieces to print, thanks to the thin bands of PETG used for the petals. It takes some time to assemble, but the final look is worth the effort.
Cute Skull Lamp
We’d say these skull lamps are a perfect addition to your Halloween decor, but they’re so adorable that you’ll probably want to keep them up year-round. They are easy to print and only take an inexpensive strand of LED lights and a few batteries to assemble them.
Ancient Guardian from Zelda BOTW
Any Nintendo gamers reading this will automatically know what these deceptively innocent-looking articulated robots are, and probably started sweating and hearing dramatic piano music the moment they spotted them.
But if you haven’t been totally traumatized yet by the ancient guardians during your BOTW playthrough, these models are a must-print item. The legs are fully articulated and print in place, so you can just pop the entire figure off the build plate and immediately start your campaign to bring down Hyrule.
If you haven’t gotten enough Bulbasaur from Bulbasaur planters, low-poly figurines, or Pokemon chess sets, you’re in luck. This ornamental Bulbasaur model is one in a set of three decorative Pokemon models that you can print for free.
Since the model uses a lot of Victorian filigree elements, it looks fantastic with a metallic finish, especially with a patina. They acquired that look in the photo below using paint, but metal-filled filaments or cold casting the model in resin are two other possibilities for making this model look its best.
3D Printable Drone
For a functional mini-drone, this design works well and is a lot of fun to use. Designed around a battery case for a single lithium battery, it is not going to be very powerful. However, it does work and it is a good beginner project for those wanting to learn how to 3D print and build more capable drones.
Back Loaded Horn Speaker
This little printed speaker transforms into a powerful Bluetooth speaker with a little assembly and about $20 in components. Even better, the designer includes a wiring diagram and full assembly instructions along with the free STL, so even if you are new to this type of project, you can easily follow along.
Among Us Crew/Body/Ghost/Imposter
If you need bearings for one of your projects or you just want to give your printer a nice torture test to check its calibration, these print-in-place bearings are the answer. Designed in five common sizes, these models should have all the options you need for most projects.
Both functional and decorative, this 3D printing project is the perfect solution for storing your helmet while also showing it off. The model is easy to print and allows for printing the sphere whole with supports or in two pieces without supports (to glue together after).
When regular furniture gets too boring, choose some that appears to defy physics instead. This small table ties the bottom and top parts together with string, and the tension keeps the table parts upright. While the designer used blue string, a clear string is ideal because it’s harder to see and makes the table really look like it’s floating.
Hydroponic Self-Watering Seeds Starter
Another model for the gardening-challenged, these cute self-watering planters will keep your plants watered and nourished even if you don’t. The planter comes in five different poses, with some sitting flat and others dangling their legs over a ledge, you can get really creative in staging your planter people on your desk, table, or shelf.
Need a place to store your miniature work documents? What about your doll-sized stacks of money? This print-in-place briefcase does exactly what it says: it prints a miniature briefcase in one piece with fully functioning hinges and latches straight off the build plate.
This model (and other print-in-place projects) are a good way to test your printer’s calibration and to see where it’s having issues.
Yet another print-in-place project on the list. These adorable canines have articulated hinges in their body that gives them a wider range of flexibility. While they are mainly for decorative (or playful) purposes, these little dogs are quite popular with kids.
Hexagonal LED Panels
DIY printed light fixtures are one of the easiest ways to customize your decor, and these hexagonal LED panels are one of the best options we’ve seen.
Each hexagon light is printed and assembled separately before being fit together, which leaves plenty of room for creativity. Each light panel could have a different LED color, or work through a controller to loop through certain behaviors like blinking, twinkling, or transitioning through the RGB spectrum.
Mechanical Quick Grab/Release Phone Stand
Slim Credit Card Wallet
When you want the bare essentials to keep your pockets from being weighed down, a card wallet is an essential accessory. This particular one is fully printed and comes with the added bonus of an ejector button to help you easily remove your cards when you need them.
A modern take on the old concept of measuring cups, these cubes are a fun way to incorporate the different measurement sizes into one piece. However, we don’t recommend using them for liquids in the kitchen since the small gaps between layers in 3D prints are not watertight.
One of the more iconic Marvel props in the 3D printing community, Thor’s hammer is easy to print and looks great on display. While it has a lot of fine details that would be best captured with a resin 3D printer, it will be challenging to print it at full scale on most consumer resin printers.
One of the best things about having a 3D printer is the ability to use it to produce additional printers or machines. This CNC machine is a perfect example of that. It uses 3D printed joints to assemble the rails, motors, and carving tool into a fully functional CNC.
Raspberry Pi 4 Case
In case you missed it, this list is full of projects and ideas that use Raspberry Pi boards as the controller. Being small, cheap, and surprisingly flexible in its capabilities, the Pi lends itself extremely well to 3D printing.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that you can find dozens of models for Raspberry Pi cases on most of the project sharing websites. This one has one of the more attractive and functional designs available.
Enclosures are often a necessity for printing ABS and other high-temperature filaments successfully, but DIY and budget printers rarely have them incorporated into their design. Fully enclosed 3D printers do exist, but they come at a price. Thankfully, enclosures are not overly difficult to make yourself, especially when upcycling existing furniture like this build.
This project gives you all the pieces needed to turn an IKEA Lack table into a functional 3D printing enclosure and filament station. While it is specifically designed for Prusa 3D printers, any printer that fits on a Lack table should work with this project.
Fidget Infinity Cube
While fidget toys are always a popular category for 3D printing, these fidget cubes are especially interesting. Using a hinge design, you can fold and unfold the cubes in multiple directions.
This model prints flat and requires no assembly after printing. Since the hinges print in place, this project may take some experimentation with printer settings and calibration before it is printed successfully. The designer includes a test print with the model files so you can quickly try out different print settings without printing the full model.
Addams Family Thing
Yet another spooky prop on the list, the Thing from the Addams Family is a great item to add to your Halloween decor. This is a model with a high level of detail (especially around the knuckles and nail beds) that would do well with resin printing.
Those were 51 of the coolest free 3D printing models! Did you like our picks? Have you printed any of these models before? Let us know in the comment section down below!