3D printing seems like a daunting task at first. If you have no experience in using a 3D printer, you could already feel overwhelmed before you even plug it in – goodness knows I did.
To me, 3D printing was a sci-fi concept, something I’d never thought I’d get to do in my lifetime, and I had zero idea where or how to begin. But here I am, writing about them for a living. And if someone as formerly technologically illiterate as me can grasp it, anyone can.
If you’re in the same boat I was, then you’ll be happy to know that there are a lot of 3D printer projects for beginners out there that are simple to make and still really cool.
Here we’re going to look at some of the easiest 3D printer project ideas for total novices, so no matter how new to 3D printing you are, you should have no trouble with any of these.
Keep in mind that this is a list of projects ideal for beginners to 3D printing, not a beginner’s guide to 3D printing.
If you’d like a little extra advice before you get started, you can check out our top 7 3D printing tips for beginners here. But I will still include some helpful tips to help even the most inexperienced of printers get started.
Hints and Tips
Maybe you have some experience in 3D printing, maybe you’ve done your research, or maybe you’re staring down a $200+ piece of tech and have absolutely no idea where to start.
Here are a few hints and tips to help you get printing with confidence.
Know Your Hardware
Now no one is asking you to know exactly how a 3D printer works or about how or why each individual part functions, but it is important to know what the main pieces of your 3D printer do.
Knowing how extruders and motors work and how to manage them is a great way to get you used to your machine and will also help you keep safe when using them.
Making sure you don’t touch heated parts too soon and knowing how to properly shut the printer down when not in use will help you stay safe and your machine in good working condition.
Your 3D printer will come with safety guides and summaries of what the parts do. Be sure to read and note these carefully to avoid tears in the future.
Tweaking your settings like infills, extruder temperatures and the like will help you get an idea of what everything does. Don’t worry if things are a little mangled at the start or if things don’t work out the way you think they should.
Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Continuing from above, anyone getting started will have a few hiccups along the way.
It takes some prodigious skill to get everything right on the first try, so if your minifigure is warped or your toy car is more brittle than it should be, don’t let that discourage you!
With enough time, experience, and learning, you’ll be printing with the pros.
And even then you’ll probably still have the odd misfire. The waste of time and materials is frustrating, sure, but it’s perfectly fine, I promise.
These are just some simple advice steps but are important for making sure you stay safe and willing to keep up your enthusiasm even despite the odd failed print.
Pokémon 3D Prints for Beginners
For me (and at least eight of my friends and colleagues,) getting started in 3D printing by making Pokémon was a simple and fun way to learn.
I’m not just recommending Pokémon as an easy 3D printing introduction just because I happen to love the franchise. Pokémon make a great first step because even in the most basic forms, their shapes are still easily recognizable.
What makes them particularly easy is that Pokémon are often printed in one big part instead of several interconnecting parts. But you can always make them more complicated as you get comfortable with your printing skills.
Specifically, the best Pokémon to 3D print as a beginner are the low-poly models, which can be printed with minimal hassle and still look really cool.
Low poly Pokémon are as simple as it gets, taking no editing or particularly specific settings to get right.
If you want something more than a statue, there are a few cool Pokémon Quest-inspired articulated Pokémon you can check out too.
These are all very easy 3D prints and will help you get used to different settings and infills as you experiment with the models.
Once you get more comfortable, you can even make your own adjustments to get you used to editing software and print management.
Pokémon aren’t the only easy 3D prints that come in the low-poly form.
If you’re not a fan of the Pocket Monsters franchise or just want to do something different, low poly animals are an equally good way to get started with 3D printing.
They can also be printed as one piece and with no experience, and come in a lot of different forms as well.
There are so many low poly animals that any beginner can 3D print, I couldn’t possibly get to all of them now. Needless to say, if you have a favorite animal, you’ll have no trouble finding one you can print with ease.
Once you get used to the one-piece designs, you can start to branch out with projects like this low poly fox.
It’s designed with pieces to be printed individually in different colors to make an excellent multicolored statue that can be made with a single-color printer.
Keychains are fun ways to express yourself and things you like because we carry them around with us pretty much everywhere we go.
Because they need to be light and fairly small, keychains are great 3D printing projects for complete beginners, and can gradually become more complicated as you get more used to 3D printing.
Some 3D printed keychains are deceptively simple. This miniature map of the U.S. with separated state lines looks a lot harder than it is, and is a great project that even a beginner can be proud of.
Once you’ve got the hang of these simple shapes, you’ll be able to branch out and make some even cooler 3D printed keychains before you know it!
Snap cards, also known as kit cards, are small models that come as individual pieces attached to a card to be snapped off and assembled. Like any miniature model, they can be extremely complicated or very easy 3D prints.
But the complexity often comes down to the design, meaning the printing process is usually very easy and ideal for beginners who want something a little more fun to mess with post-print than a simple ‘print and display’ project.
If you’re a Star Wars fan, there are a ton of kit cards for you. The Millennium Falcon, Imperial Shuttle, and even the seldom-seen Landspeeder are all available as easy 3D prints that any Star Wars fan can have fun putting together and playing with.
If you’re still following the canon like I gave up doing a while back, then you might be happy to know that more modern designs like The Mandalorian’s Razor Crest is also a cool kit card to 3D print.
When you think of 3D printing for beginners, you probably think of simple decorative projects with little substance beyond looking nice, but this is far from the truth.
There are plenty of easy toy 3D prints that anyone can make and have fun with, regardless of 3D printing experience.
The micro catapult is one of my favorites.
It doesn’t need much material and requires no extra hardware or parts to assemble. Despite its simplicity, it can launch small paper balls around 6 feet, perfect for getting on your least favorite colleague’s nerves.
Articulated toys are easier to make than you’d think, too.
This Loki alligator is a cute little wiggly toy that works well as a keychain too. You can also print out these fun articulated fish, as well as some funky prints like this shark or even a model of the cartoon classic Earthworm Jim (who else remembers that cool dude?)
These prints don’t need any supports or additional hardware to connect and move well, and are a lot easier to print than they look. So there’s no reason even beginner 3D printers shouldn’t dive in!
More traditional toys like this airplane and these simple toy cars are easy 3D prints that you can be proud of as you either play with them yourself or watch any little ones in your life have fun with your own creations.
You can even have a go at printing this balloon-powered car for some extra fun!
As you delve further into your 3D printing adventure, you’ll soon find toys to be some of the most fun things you can make. And once you get tired of the easier stuff, our list of the best 3D printed toys will be waiting for you!
Phone and Tablet Stands
When I got my first 3D printer, a friend of mine asked me to make him a business card holder.
While I never got around to it, it did make me think that making holders and stands might be some easy project to help me get started.
As someone who up until then had been using a stuffed cat toy to prop up my phone at night, this revelation was very welcome.
Because 3D printed phone stands only need the most basic of shapes, the only real tweaking or designing you’ll have to do is changing the size to match your device.
This will not only give you a good beginner 3D printing project but also help you get used to file editing before printing in a way that isn’t too complex.
While you can make some simple stands like these, don’t be afraid to go down some more creative routes.
This corded landline holder looks pretty cool and will fit well on any desk, and this ‘McFly’ design is just a pair of small 3D printed shoes to keep your phone upright whether you’re watching a video or on a call.
Tablet holders are the same, they can be simple projects that do the job well enough or creative prints that still don’t take much for some cool results.
3D Printing Projects For Beginners FAQs
Other articles you may be interested in:
- Top 8 Best 3D Printers For Beginners
- 13 Great 3D Printing Projects To Try At Home
- 3D printing projects for engineers
- The 34 Coolest & Most Useful Things To 3D Print
- 25 Useful 3D Printed Tools You Can Print Today
- 3D Printed Items That Sell
- 8 Big Ideas for Small 3D Prints
- Top 3 DIY Filament Dry Box Projects You Can Make at Home
- 12 of the Best 3D Printer Apps