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3D Printing Examples & Ideas

Once you have a 3D Printer, what can you do with it?

Here is a wide range of examples. Most of these you can print yourself.

3D Printed Wing Ribs

Tom Stanton shows how he used a 3D printer to print wing ribs for his model aircraft. Combined with foam sheets, packing tape and a lightweight wooden spar, they hold a true aerofoil shape and perform amazingly well.

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Red Eyed Treefrog

Red Eyed Treefrog is an example of the varied ways a 3D printer can be used in subjects as diverse as Biology and Art.

It was created "so you can decorate a garden pound without the noise, or check the calibration of your printer in the most cute way!"

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Mount Saint Helens 3D Topo Map

Here's an example of a 3D printed topo map of Mt. St. Helens from

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Amazing Bubble Wands

This collection of bubble wands can be printed and used for students of all ages. Younger students can have fun while learning about bubbles. Older students with access to a 3D printer can learn to create their own bubble wands.

Some of the questions covered in the included tutorial include...

  • What are bubbles?
  • Why are they only spheres?
  • Why do they pop?
  • Why do bubbles stick together?
  • Where do bubbles get their colors?
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Flexi Rex

This model is an exemplar of many different 3D prining concepts.

  • When the model is well designed, you can print a multi-part articulated item all-at-once with even an inexpensive 3D printer.
  • The concepts of open source and iterative design allow one person to come up with a good idea and others to build on it and create even better versions.

    There are over 40 different versions of Flexi Rex posted on Thingiverse.

And it's a lot of fun to play with.

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PLA Spring Motor Demonstrator 2

The PLA Spring Motor Demonstrator was originally designed as a "proof of concept" tool to test whether a 3D printed PLA spring could power a gear train and possibly move a vehicle. The test was successful and a number of 3D printed PLA spring powered vehicles followed. This version has a 1 (drive) to 125 (driven) gear ratio in three gear stages.

It is a fairly easy to print and assemble, and makes a fun classroom demo.

You can use this as a springboard to challenge your STEM students to design their own 3D printed motorized creations.

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Volume Blocks

Here's a two-part project, which can be taken on together or as separate parts. The main part is a series of 3D objects for use in learning and practicing volume equations. The second is a short course detailing how the objects were made so that students can make their own for use in class.

Combined, these make up a good primer for students in learning and understanding 3D space and engineering. The objects are provided in both Metric and Imperial units. The walk through, lesson plan and solutions are included as PDFs.

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Stackable Sheep

You can do a lot of things with Stackable Sheep.

Yes, you can stack them. You can also:

  • Use the large and small versions to talk about families or genetic inheritance.
  • Print a bunch and use them in place of jelly beans in your next statistics lecture.
  • Print one for each student or pair of students and have them paint or decorate them.

Let us know what ideas you and your students come up with.

3D printed gyro cube sphere

This video shows not only the sphere being printed, but also the steps needed after the print to get everything to work. As you can see, 3D printing is still a work in progress.

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Air Spinner

Not only is this a fun print that shows how you can print moving mechanisms in place, but it's practical too.

Someone discovered you can spin the Air Spinner up by blowing on it, and it can be used by speech therapists to help special needs kids get better at breath support and control.

Mendocino Motor

This is an example of using a 3D printer to create the connectors and other parts needed to assemble an item, in this case a simple solar powered motor. You can find details on the motor at Thingiverse/thing:17860

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'Germz' are a super small print that can be used as handy little clips for all sorts of applications. It's also a great wat to confirm that your printer is set up and tuned or "dialed in" correctly.

We've featured this print in our convention booths. It shows how a simple item with moving parts can be printed all-at-once using a simple 3D printer. They are also fun to have around and encourage student engagement.

What other simple devices can your students dream up and print?

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3D Printed Kitten Wheelchair


Meet Peggy. When this little kitty was rescued, they found the lower portion of her rear legs were gone. The author was asked to design a wheelchair for Peggy to keep her mobile and keep her rear legs off the floor (as they can easily get infections) until she reaches the ripe age of 1 when she can get some prosthetics fitted.

Take a look at the process and the results.

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3D Printed Geneva Drive

The Geneva Drive is an elegant mechanism used to convert rotary motion into intermittent motion. The link includes a YouTube video as well as the STL 3D printer files and complete directions.

A great introduction into how an item that would be complex and time consuming to create traditionally can be printed in just a few hours or less.

Printing Magnets

We know about 3D printing with plastic, but what about printing magnetic fields? This video by Destin Sandlin looks at how Polymagnet has come up with a way of printing magnetic fields to order. How about printing a child proof spring latch, with no springs? Or your logo as a magnetic field?

The Polymagnets segment starts 2 1/2 minutes into the video. The link below has more information on Polymagnet and where you can purchase your own "spring latch".

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The MultiFab Next Generation 3D-printer

MIT gives us a glimpse into the future of 3D printing technology with an inexpensive printer that can print 10 materials at once, no assembly required.

Combining multiple materials, an integrated 3D scanner, and self-calibrating, self-correcting software, the MultiFab gets us closer to the goal of finished products right out of the machine. Includes a short introductory video.

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Ideas and inspiration for the K-12 community.

© 1996 - 2019 Dr. Bonnie Tenenbaum -- coding and hosting by Lodestone Systems