Chris Dzombak

I got into 3D printing, and it feels like magic

This was going to be a more technical, in-the-weeds post, where I detailed my exact printer, filament, CAD tool, and slicer choices; and where I walked through all the slicer settings I’ve tweaked to get good results on my setup. But that’s not very interesting, and all that stuff is covered by a thousand other sites already. (If you are interested in that, I’ll share at the end of this post a few useful links I’ve bookmarked for myself.)

Instead, the important parts: I got a 3D printer about a month ago, and in this post I’m going to go over some of the things I’ve made.

Coffee Filter Storage Box

This is a storage box for coffee filters. It was inspired by this thing West Elm keeps advertising to me on Instagram, but West Elm’s only works with #1 and #2 coffee filters. Mine goes up to 11 fits #2 and #4 filters. (You can download the design here.)

Coffee Filter Storage Box

I originally bought the 3D printer with the intention of making custom enclosures for various projects. And I have indeed done that, with varying degrees of polish as I learn my way around Tinkercad and Fusion 360.

(As an aside, Fusion 360 is extremely cool. Its parametric/constraint-based design features remind me heavily of Auto Layout — remember Auto Layout? And the timeline feature lets you dive back into your design’s history, make a change, and fast-forward back to the present, seeing that change reflected in every subsequent step. Strong functional vibes.)

The important thing here: this feels like magic! I didn’t expect this feeling at all, but I posted on Mastodon shortly after getting started that I felt like I’d gained a new superpower. And it still feels that way. The ability to go from problem to design to 3D-printed solution in a matter of days is incredible.

This is a record sleeve holder, which props up the cardboard sleeve for whatever record is sitting on our turntable:

Record Holder

That design is available on Thingiverse, too. It’s based on someone else’s design (I simply added some chamfers, which took just a few minutes in Fusion 360). There seems to be a large, healthy community of people sharing interesting and useful 3D-printable models; not just on Thingiverse, there’s also Thangs, Prusa Printers, and probably others.

Which brings me to some of the slightly less practical, but still very cool, things I’ve printed. (Most of the use my printer has seen so far is printing stuff other people have designed.)

There’s a very cool pen and pencil holder (design here):

Pen & Pencil Holder

Geometric rings for Thu (design here):

Geometric Rings

Any number of fidget toys (and I still have more bookmarked to print!): fidget cubes, fidget twisters, and a neat screw that works with right- and left-handed threads.

Moving into the “home decor” theme, I’ve made some animal-themed shadowboxes and printed a cool vase:

Giroid Vase

There are a number of other vase designs I’d like to try, in various colors. And the one pictured above was a little smaller than I expected, so I’m going to try scaling it up too. (The stringing artifacts are because I haven’t quite mastered printing in PETG plastic yet.)

And (saving the best for last!) perhaps the coolest thing I’ve printed is this lithophane moon lamp:

Lithophane Moon Lamp

The moon globe alone took 3 solid days to print! The stand only took half a day.

Perhaps that’s my only complaint: I may have a new superpower, but it’s a slow one.

I’ve been posting most of my 3D printing projects in this Flickr album; you can also find stuff I’ve made on Thingiverse and Prusa. And I’ve posted many of my own designs on Thingiverse.

Some 3D printing bookmarks I’ve found useful: