3D objects, laptop, and 3D printer on a table

Top 3D Printer Projects to Sharpen Your Skills and Build Your 3D Printer Portfolio

3D printing is one of the great advances in manufacturing technology in recent times. The mass production industry changed radically with this technique, and projects with this system have a lot of value in the market. According to Statista, the worldwide market for 3D printing products and services was valued at around $12.6 billion in 2020.

If you are a 3D printing artist or technician, this guide is for you. After you learn SolidWorks and other software, you will need to demonstrate your skills. If you’re interested in starting a career in 3D printing, then these portfolio projects will play a key role in getting hired. Read on to learn how you can show off your skills with the best 3D printer projects below.

5 Skills That 3D Printer Projects Can Help You Practice

To correctly apply 3D printing techniques, you must study and develop different skills. Creating projects for a portfolio helps you practice the various skills required to succeed in a career in 3D printing. You can make awesome projects and contribute to the 3D printing community if you build up your skills.

  • 3D Engineering. With this skill, you will be able to redefine and adjust product details of models to turn them into market-ready products. Like a 3D printer, your job is to transform ideas into digital versions that can be printed. This skill is suitable for making medical models.
  • Designing with 3D CAD. In this field, you must design, repair, and modify 3D CAD data, also known as three-dimensional computer-aided design. This technology works for product design and technical documentation, replacing manual drafting with an automated process.
  • Finishing. This skill also represents a key phase of the 3D printing process. The basic tasks are assembling, painting, sanding, and enhancing a 3D model. Here, you must correctly smooth the surface of a newly printed object. 3D printers use tools like acetone cloud chambers, multi-axis enamel jets, and agitating chemical baths.
  • Scheduling. It is essential that you know how to manage multiple materials, shipments, machines, and orders if you’re selling 3D-printed materials. In this way, the 3D printing process will have a satisfactory result on assembly lines for subsequent product promotions.
  • Maintenance. The technical handling capacity of the printing machines is essential in this job. The basic tasks involved in this skill are calibrating, repairing, and testing 3D printers.

Best 3D Printer Project Ideas for Beginners 

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The best way to start your career path in the world of 3D printing is through entry-level practice. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the best 3D printing ideas for beginner projects that you can create. You will see basic concepts and techniques that are fundamental to understanding this style of work.

Self-Watering Planter

3D Printer Skills Practiced: Finishing

This idea is very practical, especially if you have plants in your home. The self-watering planter consists of a two-piece print that is low-maintenance and works as an office decoration. You have to print two parts, add your favorite plant, and fill the tank with water. It’s a great project for beginners.

Sliding Gate Bolts

3D Printer Skills Practiced: 3D Engineering

As an entry-level artist, you can work on useful and simple projects to start testing your skills. This project is a four-piece padlock with a strong grip latch. The resistance of this sliding gate bolt will depend on your printing abilities, and you can engineer the design according to where you’re going to be using and placing the lock.

Tent / Hose Spike

3D Printer Skills Practiced: 3D CAD

This project is a fastener for tents, cables, or hoses. A 3D-printed spike is a very practical object for different purposes. The key is to mold the pointed shape properly so the spike can stay in the ground while holding onto a rope or hose. You may have to create some 3D printing prototypes before you get the shape right.

One-Handed Page Holder

3D Printer Skills Practiced: 3D Engineering

The one-handed page holder is ideal for book lovers. It serves as a straightforward tool for more comfortable reading. You will shape it to the middle of an open book with a hole in the middle for your finger. The key is to properly shape and smooth the ends of the holder so it can hold onto the pages.

Jar Handle

3D Printer Skills Practiced: Finishing

Making jugs and cups is a unique project for beginners. This is a great way to learn about the techniques for 3D printing. By mastering this project, you can convert any glass jar or cup into your new favorite mug. This handle is an ergonomic, easy-to-hold item that you can design according to the shape and size of your jar or cup.

Best Intermediate 3D Printer Project Ideas

Creativity and constant practice are the tools to increase your professional level. Remember that an intermediate-level 3D printer uses more advanced models and optimization of older products. This is a list of the best 3D printing ideas for middle-level artists.

Your Favorite City or Landmark

3D Printer Skills Practiced: 3D CAD

Creating manmade or natural monuments through scale 3D projects is a definitive test to enhance your talent. You can use a real-life place like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite Park, or even your favorite local mountain. You can learn geographical information systems (GIS) or a program like MeshMixer to help you out.

Customized Parts for a 3D Printer

3D Printer Skills Practiced: Finishing

If you want to cut costs or get creative in 3D printing production, you can make custom parts for your 3D printer. You can do this by changing the hot end to an all-3D printing metal hot end. Also, you need to swap out the Acme lead screws, which print at a higher resolution than M5 threaded rods.

3D Models from NASA

3D Printer Skills Practiced: 3D Engineering

If you’re interested in aerospace science, take a look at NASA 3D models. The US space agency shares several printable 3D models directly on its website. For example, one model is a wrench that NASA designed on Earth and sent to a 3D printer in space. This is one of the most interesting 3D printer ideas out there.

Puzzles or Movable Assemblies

3D Printer Skills Practiced: 3D Engineering

Puzzles can be more complex projects than you think because coordination and cuts must be precise to achieve perfect results. Keep the scales in mind because 3D models are different from classic puzzles. You can customize a puzzle and even use it as a gift for a friend, and some people make heart puzzles for their partners.

Custom Accessories

3D Printer Skills Practiced: Scheduling

Many custom 3D printed accessories have useful functions. This is the best way to boost your talent and get functional items. Some custom accessories you can make include a sun visor holder, pencil holder, handle for a DSLR camera, paperweights, a box, electronic pieces, and even a musical instrument.

Advanced 3D Printer Project Ideas

An advanced artist uses more specific techniques for project details. In this section, you will see the most attractive ideas in the development of advanced tasks. With this degree of complexity, you will become a professional 3D printer with prototypes of a high quality standard. Below is a list of the best 3D printing ideas for advanced projects.

3D-Printed Speakers

3D Printer Skills Practiced: 3D CAD, 3D Engineering

Precision is the fundamental key that guarantees the success of building these speakers. Make sure to apply measurement systems and test each assembly to come up with a useful prototype. Use a basic speaker system and create a 3D-printed design to cover and enhance it. A 3D printing veteran will be able to finish this project with ease.

Medieval Castle

3D Printer Skills Practiced: Finishing

Your portfolio of projects will truly shine if you are looking for projects that combine art techniques, small details, assembly, and recreation. These scale projects reflect patience and talent. A medieval castle would be a great sample for your portfolio, and you can use your creativity as much as you’d like.

Motorized Marble Machine

3D Printer Skills Practiced: 3D CAD

This idea consists of the resistant composition of all the parts of a marble machine. In its 3D printing version, you must create circular shapes to hold a marble as it rolls through the system. In addition, you will print a base wide enough to fit all the components of the machine. You will test your 3D printer design functions with this advanced project.

3D-Printed Prosthetics

3D Printer Skills Practiced: Finishing, 3D CAD

3D prosthetics may be one of the most important advances in this field. Many organizations and companies in the health industry work to offer these types of projects to people in need. Practicing for medical careers can lead you to a job helping others. You can build prosthetic hands, legs, feet, and more, and you can work directly with patients.

Desk Paper Tray

3D Printer Skills Practiced: 3D CAD

For this project, you need to adjust three trays and print the supports correctly. This is a useful idea for offices, home studios, and library staff. Also, you can optimize your portfolio and get useful products that you can give away or use for yourself.

Next Steps: Start Organizing Your 3D Printer Portfolio

3D printer creating an object
Your 3D printing portfolio will be key if you want to start a career in tech and get a job in 3D printing.

Being a professional 3D printer takes time, patience, and dedication. Before you apply for jobs, you must also learn how to present your content to showcase your skills in the mass-production industry. Follow these tips to help you build your professional portfolio.

Submit Prototypes

Prototypes are the most common elements for industrial use in 3D printing. Develop your portfolio with precise 3D-printed versions. Your designs must have a digital file backup and exact measurements. Rapid prototyping works as a proof of concept on your desktop 3D printer. In this way, you can more easily expose your projects to interested parties.

Develop and Explain Scale Models

Creating models and replicas at scale shows off your experience as a 3D professional printer. Follow this suggestion so that you can showcase your architectural vision or latest product design. This model is functional for a client presentation or LCD in the real world. A common option is a three-foot-long model for trade shows in aerospace or another field.

Production Runs

The mass production industry is looking for 3D printers with good manufacturing capabilities for innovative projects. If you know how to print a large quantity of the same models for several products, you will be a key element for the company’s growth. The purpose of this tip is to deploy a project with dozens or hundreds of installations.

3D Printer Projects FAQ

What is the process of 3D printing projects?

The 3D printing process follows a few different steps, which include vat photopolymerization, inkjet technology, binder jetting, powder bed fusion, material extrusion, directed energy deposition, and sheet lamination.

What are the most common problems with a 3D printer?

The most common problems with 3D printers include if the printer works but does not print, if the nozzle is too close to the print bed, or excessive extrusion. Other drawbacks are incomplete and messy fill, buckling of the material, a mess in the first layer, or the print being warped and melted.

What technology is used in 3D printing?

The technology used in 3D printing is fused deposition modeling (FDM), which is also known as fused filament fabrication (FFF). This 3D printing technology uses a process called material extrusion.

What are the benefits of using 3D printing?

The benefits of 3D printing include saving money on tool costs, reducing waste with additive manufacturing, and reducing weight with complex part designs.

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