HP TECH TAKES
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Top 5 Uses for Home 3D Printers
June 23, 2018
Even though 3D printing has technically been around since the 1980s, there’s still something mind-bogglingly special about the ability to produce physical objects with the touch of a few buttons.
We’ve come a long way from printing grainy photos and Word documents.
Today, we’re living a reality straight from the realm of science fiction. Innovators and entrepreneurs across industries have developed the seemingly impossible with printed ears and prosthetic limbs, rocket parts, and even affordable homes with this technology.
3D printing is for more than just the tech savvy entrepreneur
Printing in the third dimension isn’t just for cutting-edge industries, though. Many of the best 3D printers have become accessible, affordable and easy to use. The most current HP 3D printer for business, for example, is 50 percent cheaper and ten times faster than its initial predecessor with a print quality you have to see to believe.
3D printer projects go way beyond trinkets or objects that simply show off the technology’s capabilities. There are many practical uses that can improve your home and how you live in it.
1. Keep your cords and devices in order
When we think about an at-home 3D printer, it’s often in terms of its technology and its boundary-pushing potential. However, there are some practical ways to get more use out of the machine by printing items that support your other household devices.
One of the best uses for your 3D printer is to create items that help organize all those pesky cords, from chargers to cables, around the home.
One example is a USB cable holder, which can help you avoid the tangles that pop up whenever it’s time to charge a device. You can also print desk cable holders that help keep everything contained on your desk and lightning cable savers that can be used to wrap cords to save them from fraying.
2. 3D print your kitchen
The kitchen can be used for inspiration beyond what you’re cooking for dinner.
While you’ll want to look into the food safety of materials before printing a new set of dishes or cutlery, there really is no limit to the 3D-printed additions to your kitchen. There are patterns for everything from a hook to keep your yogurt cups closed, to the multi-measurement baker’s cube.
There are also the little items that get lost that you can always use more of, such as bag clips and bottle openers. And don’t forget about the critical pieces of your cooking arsenal either, such as measuring spoons.
When you start searching for ideas and getting into 3D printing, you’ll find that there are many items you can print for your kitchen.
3. Give your plants a new place to lay down roots
Another beauty of home 3D printing lies in its ability to bring together the various elements of your decor.
One such example is combining your indoor plants with your latest printed creations. Planters are one of the more fool-proof designs you can print, because they often require less technical know-how than items like appliance parts or door hinges.
With a 3D printer, you can create an upcycled jar greenhouse by simply taking a glass jar you’ve cleaned and turning it into a mini greenhouse for your plants.
Or you can make sure your plants are getting enough water with a whimsical self-watering planter, which is waterproof and easy to use. Just plant an herb (or whatever you like), add water, and the sealed container will ensure that your plant stays properly hydrated.
4. Save a trip to the hardware store
Home 3D printers are great for creating novelties that charm and delight, but they’re also useful for generating the types of items you tend forget to pick up at the hardware store. While tiny 3D-printed power tools may not be the most practical use of your materials, there are plenty of simple and printable home repair solutions at your disposal.
For example, you can print your own door hinges that come with multiple holes for a fool-proof installation process.
You can also print hooks and hangers, like customizable u-hooks, to easily hang up everything from coats and hats, to purses and scarves. If you’re looking for something with a little more pizazz, try modular hex drawers. These can be printed and stacked for a custom design that organizes all those knickknacks you don’t know what to do with.
5. Experiment with your own designs
Although there are existing 3D printer designs you can download and print, at-home creatives and hobbyists can experiment and create their own products. The HP Sprout Pro AiO is a great starting place for creatives and makers to begin their 3D printing journey.
If you know how to use computer-aided design (CAD) software for 3D printing, you can design your own prototypes and print to your heart’s content. People have used home 3D printers to create new parts for their drones, pieces of jewelry, and even miniature versions of themselves.
While there’s definitely a learning curve for computer-aided design (CAD) software, start small and design something like a pen holder or a bottle opener. Just like with anything, practicing will help you get the hang of it, and soon enough you’ll start thinking about what’s next.
With a program like Tinkercad, for example, you can design simple toys and trinkets, making this a good introduction for anyone who’s new to 3D printing.
What’s next for home 3D printing?
Artists and innovators alike are pushing the boundaries of what an at-home 3D printer can do, whether it’s providing a fun piece of décor or allowing home cooks to print off that one measuring spoon size they can’t find.
As this technology becomes even more affordable, faster, and easier to use, it’s only a matter of time before the 3D printer takes its rightful place beside other useful pieces of technology in your home.
From industrial prototyping to printing materials innovation, HP® has been busy in the realm of 3D printing. If you’d like to learn more about HP 3D printing and what we’re doing in this space, be sure to check out the latest innovations that we and our technology partners are pursuing.
About the Author: Dan Marzullo is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dan produces strategic marketing content for startups, digital agencies, and established brands. His work can be found in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, YFS Magazine, and many other media outlets.