3D Printed Gadgets: Helpful Prints & Gizmos For All Uses
At 3DSourced we’ve covered everything 3D printing and 3D since 2017. Our team has interviewed the most innovative 3D printing experts, tested and reviewed more than 20 of the most popular 3D printers and 3D scanners to give our honest recommendations, and written more than 500 3D printing guides over the last 5 years.
The use of 3D printing for mechanical engineering projects has evolved a lot as more affordable printers become more and more capable of complex and intricate parts and pieces, making for some awesome 3D printed gadget possibilities.
3D printing inventions made from clockwork-like mechanisms are just a couple of the things we can do with more precise prints and parts, and of course this means that, with enough planning and patience, we can even 3D print gadgets.
Gadget, of course, is a pretty vague term. It can refer to analog machinery, digital devices, or just about any object that uses one or more compatible parts to serve a purpose.
What this means is gadgets can be incredibly simple or extremely complicated depending on their desired use. Gadgets can simplify our lives, make chores easier, or even just provide entertainment. Whatever the reason, 3D printing your own gadgets is rewarding and fun, if a little hard work.
So here we’re going to look at some 3D printed gadget and gizmo files for all skill levels, from the basic and easy to the complex and tricky. So fear not, no matter your experience or know-how, there’s going to be something here for you.
3D Printed Gadgets for Beginners
If you haven’t the mind for mechanical engineering, or are simply trying to find your footing in the field, everyone needs a starting point.
Many of the files we’ll look at here are one-part gizmos, so for those of you without the experience to make more complicated things, they’ll be quick and simple 3D printed gadgets to make life that little bit easier.
Auto Coin Sorter
- Download: youngcat
- Price: Free
As someone whose wallet doesn’t have a coin pocket, almost every surface of my apartment is littered with loose change that I’m frankly too lazy to gather or sort.
The auto coin sorter is a neat little 3D printed invention that does exactly what the name implies, sort coins into various slots depending on their size and weight. It’s a simple print that needs few supports and zero experience to get right.
Now I know you must be thinking that an automatic coin sorter isn’t exactly a universally useful tool given the many types of currency used around the world. But don’t worry, no matter where you live, the link above will take you to a 3D printed invention that will sort whichever kind of money you use.
The files included in the link above include coin sorters for American dollars, Canadian dollars, euro, Swiss francs, and Thai Baht.
If your country still isn’t on this list, then there’s no need to fret. The designer has been kind enough to link to third-party creators who’ve designed their own versions for dozens of other currencies, including Australian dollars, Great British pounds, Danish crowns, Russian rubles, and many more.
This is a simple 3D printed gadget that’s sure to help declutter your home by freeing it of loose pocket change. The fun part about it is, there’s always more than you think when you tally it all up, so this invention may even allow you to treat yourself a little.
Nespresso Cap Dispenser
- Download: SZOTYISHAKER
- Price: Free
Nespresso has changed the way millions of people take their morning (or in my case, all day) coffee. But even in the most organized of kitchens, the pods can be hard to keep track of.
If you happen to live in a household of multiple caffeine addicts, then you’ll likely know the irritation of the pods you want sometimes not being where you left them.
This 3D printed invention is a really useful, and aesthetically pleasing, addition to any kitchen as it’s simple, sleek, and fits in with any décor. All you have to do is load the coffee pods into the top and watch as they’re dispensed nicely underneath, automatically restocking when you remove a pod from the chute.
If, like me, you like different flavored coffee to go with your mood, then I suggest 3D printing this useful gadget multiple times and in different colors to help keep your coffee pods organized and the different varieties easily found.
Black works well for Americano, while white is ideal for vanilla, for example. Or you could simply print one and leave it up to chance which flavor you’ll get!
However you decide to use it, there’s no denying this useful invention is a useful gadget for coffee drinkers everywhere.
- Download: Miras
- Price: Free
Analog speakers are volume-boosting devices that don’t need electricity. If you’ve ever wanted to play music on your phone during a blackout or simply as a way to save energy, then this is a useful gadget to 3D print.
It’s a simple design that doesn’t involve much effort and can be 3D printed and used with little to no experience.
All you have to do is place your phone into the slot speaker first and listen to whatever tunes or videos you like. The most amount of effort you’ll need to put into this 3D printed gadget is altering the size of the slot to match your phone.
Intermediate 3D Printed Gadgets
If you’ve already got some experience in 3D printing and gadget construction, then you might be looking for something a little more complicated than the basic examples we’ve discussed above.
While not particularly challenging, these 3D printed gadgets for intermediate users are a little more exciting. Though they involve more work than the beginner examples, the results are some neat little gizmos that are both fun and helpful.
- Download: GeorgeZSL
- Price: Free
No that’s not a typo. The Squezze Fan is a handheld cooling fan designed to be an electricity-free way to keep the heat at bay during those warm summer months.
While it requires no supports and is very easy to assemble, I’ve included this handheld fan as an intermediate 3D printed gadget because it’s made up of a few different parts that all need to be of a precise size in order to work together and produce the desired effect.
If you’re already confident in your printer’s dimensional accuracy, then you’ll have no problem 3D printing and assembling this device, which is ideal for heat waves or tropical vacations.
As well as not needing supports, there’s also no need to buy any other pieces to get this gadget working, as it’s a piece of entirely 3D printed tech. Every necessary part is included in the files above, so you won’t be hit with any more expenses like nuts or bolts beyond the very low cost of the files themselves.
- Download: HOOFBAUGH
- Price: Free
‘Waste not, want not’ has been a mantra of many a frugal household for quite some time. And for those of you looking to save money wherever possible, toothpaste can be an irritating waste.
Over time, the small amount you can just never get out of the tube adds up and wastes money. While you could roll the tube yourself or even cut off the cap, it always seems like there’s a little left.
This useful 3D printed invention is designed to tightly roll up just about any size of toothpaste tube to make sure you get every last drop out of every one you buy, brining costs down and producing less waste.
You will need to assemble the 3 pieces yourself after printing, and make sure they can handle the kind of pressure needed to really squeeze those high-density polyethylene tubes to their limit.
- Download: Minkix
- Price: Free
Potato chips are a great snack, but sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs and we don’t always want to finish the whole thing. While rolling them up and putting them face down always seems like a good way to store an already open bag, the fact of the matter is we’ve all been disappointed by too-soft chips one too many times.
This bag clip, complete with screw cap, is a 3D printed invention designed to fit on any bag of snacks that won’t last the night if already opened. If sealed tightly, it will keep the contents fresh and ready to be enjoyed another day.
Not only does this gadget cut down on food waste, it also helps keep your precious snacks safe from household pets, and reduces the risk of vermin like rats from being attracted to your home.
Advanced 3D Printed Gadgets
For those of you with a lot more success and know-how under your belts, then you’re likely ready to tackle some of the more complex and advanced 3D printed gadget files out there.
These devices require more printing, some wiring, and a lot of instruction-following to get right. The outcomes are great if done properly, and the work is well worth it.
So here are our picks for 3D printed tech for those of you who want to flex your engineering knowledge.
Smartphone Steering Wheel
- Download: MindScraper
- Price: Free
Mobile gaming has reached a point thought basically impossible to most people just a decade ago. Arguably consoles in their own right, mobile gaming has become a genre all its own. From classic games like snake and chess to much larger ventures like Always Sometimes Monsters and Pokémon Go, cell phones are a great way to pass the time and have some fun while doing it.
Racing games in particular are popular as mobile apps, many of which use a steering wheel on the HUD which the player controls by moving it with their fingertips, turning the virtual car as needed.
This 3D printed invention utilizes that style of game by using a miniature homemade steering wheel which, when turned, touches the screen to make the car move accordingly. It’s a tricky print that may take a few tries, but it’s a great way to get the most out of any driving or racing game you have that uses this popular gameplay mechanic.
Just be sure to wrap the parts interacting with the touchscreen in a soft metal so as not to risk scratching your phone. The designer has used aluminum, but you can use any non-abrasive metals to do the job.
SMARS Modular Robot
- Download: Kevin Thomas
- Price: Free
3D printed tech has come a long way in recent years to the point where even household printers can help with robotics projects. While there are many to choose from, I’ve selected the SMARS Modular Robot as a good example.
SMARS (Screwless/Screwed Modular Assemblable Robotic System) is an educational tool designed as a partially 3D printed introduction to robotics. In this case, as a remote-controlled car.
3D printed RC cars and planes are some of the coolest examples of 3D gadgets for entertainment, but they’re far from simple. You will need to do the wiring and programming yourself, as well as programming a controller system, to get it to move remotely.
This is a perfect piece of 3D printed tech to get anyone interested in robotics. But if you’re already knowledgeable in such fields, then you may just find this to be a fun side project or a way to introduce young ones in your life to mechanical and electrical engineering as well as basic programming.
Portable Raspberry Pi Game Console
- Download: LASSAALK
- Price: Free
Raspberry Pi projects provide some of the coolest and most innovative devices and purposes that anyone interested in computers and coding can bring to life. As an owner of just about every game console ever made, I couldn’t help but talk about this 3D printed invention that acts as what is basically a Raspberry Pi-powered Game Boy.
Including an analog thumb stick, familiar-looking buttons, and nostalgic outer casing, this is a 3D printed gadget that any videogame fan will definitely want to make. While you will need to take some special care in printing the case so it all fits together, you shouldn’t have too much trouble making this portable game machine work if you’re handy enough with a computer.
Programming the Raspberry Pi to play the games you want and respond to the 3D printed buttons’ input will be the most challenging part of putting this gadget together, but the result is a virtually limitless portable console that will provide countless hours of entertainment on the go.
Bonus: Homer Simpson’s Invention
- Download: naahuel
- Price: Free
During a stress dream about financial trouble, Homer Simpson saw himself as the inventor of a device that would erase his money woes for good through its massive success. Of course, the timeless joke being that even he never found out what it was in any capacity despite his dream self’s best efforts.
While not a 3D printed gadget per se, this 3D printed ‘invention’ is a fun nod to a classic Simpsons gag, one of which every American will want. Or in some cases, three or four.