3D Printed Gallery - Applications - Make: 3D Printing (2014)

Make: 3D Printing (2014)

Part VII. Applications

Chapter 16. 3D Printed Gallery

3D printing is being used in a wide array of customized applications, from practical objects to medicine to art. Here’s a sampling of what’s out there.

Eric Chu, Anna Kaziunas France, Goli Mohammadi, Craig Couden, and the Editors of MAKE

Practical Objects

Print what you want, when you want it. These resourceful makers used their desktop 3D printers to overcome everyday problems by creating unique custom solutions that were just what they needed.

Pen Plotter Adapter

Miles Lightwood, Eagle Rock, CA


A friend is a vintage computer junkie and one of his recent purchases was a printer/plotter for his Sharp PC-1500A pocket computer. Although the printer works, the pens, being almost 30 years old, do not. Nor are they still available. So I took out the calipers, busted out OpenSCAD, fired up the MakerBot, and printed one out!


Vintage pen plotter adapter

Figure 16-1. Vintage pen plotter adapter

Tackle Box Clip

Chris Krueger, Arlington Heights, IL


I bought a tackle box to help organize all my electrical components. Unfortunately, it was missing a clip. I fixed my problem by modeling a replacement from photos of the existing clip and caliper measurements. The replacement actually snaps tighter than the original, so I replaced them both!

Repaired tackle box

Figure 16-2. Repaired tackle box

Soda Tab Bender

Sean Michael Ragan, Austin, TX


I have this trick of making chain mail from soda can tabs. The tabs have to be bent first, and the mail looks best if they’re all bent to exactly the same angle. So I designed and printed a custom jaw insert for an off-the-shelf pair of jeweler’s pliers that bends the tabs exactly the same way each time.

Chain mail in progress

Figure 16-3. Chain mail in progress

Router Collar Adapter

Bozo Cardozo, Ketchum, ID


My old Bosch 1611 is a killer router, but it’s 20 years old and almost impossible to find parts for. I couldn’t find a stock pattern collar adapter, so I just designed and printed my own.

Adapting old tools

Figure 16-4. Adapting old tools

Car Luggage Cover Fitting

Miguel Angelo de Oliveira, Hartsdale, NY


When some plastic part breaks in your car, the chances of finding a replacement and then being able to buy it without getting a second mortgage are slim to none. My Thing-O-Matic allowed me to replace a broken plastic fitting in my car’s luggage cover, which saved me from having to buy a whole new one at roughly half the price of my 3D printer kit. I have now helped many others make vacuum cover clips, shower head holders, and many other hard-to-find replacement parts.


Car luggage cover repair solution

Figure 16-5. Car luggage cover repair solution

Car Window Crank

Michael Gregg, Palo Alto, CA


A good friend of mine was interested in 3D printing. We were hanging out one Sunday, and he broke the window crank in his Miata. The auto parts store was not open until Monday, so I whipped this up for him using SolidWorks and my MakerBot.

Replacement window crank

Figure 16-6. Replacement window crank

Bike Light Mount

Gian Pablo, San Francisco, California


I wanted to attach a rear light to my bike, but I have a rack installed, so it couldn’t go on the seat post. The rack already had holes for a license plate, so I made this simple adapter that goes on the rack using the existing holes and has a spring clip that fits the bike light directly, so that I can attach and remove it quickly.

Rear light attachment

Figure 16-7. Rear light attachment

Ice Cream Maker Drill Attachment

Lee Holmes, Seattle, WA


I ordered a KitchenAid stand mixer and its ice cream maker attachment. The ice cream maker attachment arrived on a Monday, but the mixer itself wasn’t going to arrive until the following Thursday. I wanted ice cream on Tuesday. This is my solution: an adapter to drive the ice cream maker with a standard 3/8 drill socket adapter (and a strong drill).


Ice cream when you want it

Figure 16-8. Ice cream when you want it

Doorbell Replacement

George Banovac, Stony Creek, Ontario


Some blockhead came along and broke my mother’s doorbell by excessively pounding on it. Not just once, either. Instead of spending money on buying another doorbell button, I decided to make something stronger, better—not sure about the faster part, but you get the idea. I printed it in natural ABS. I can’t even tell the difference from before; it looks exactly the same, but now it’s stronger—a solid mini-brick instead of a hollow shell. In your face, doorbell murderers!


Doorbell fix

Figure 16-9. Doorbell fix

3D Products Now on the Market

All kinds of makers, artists, designers, and startups are taking advantage of the boom in 3D printing services to sell an amazing variety of custom-made or customizable objects.

Nervous System


Nervous System is an experimental design studio whose focus is on exploring algorithmic design. Taking inspiration from nature, they develop interactive tools that can be used to generate an infinite range of designs.

Currently available products include predesigned tableware, lamps, puzzles, and jewelry. Customers can also participate in the creation process by creating their own on-demand printed designs through the Radiolaria and Cell Cycle jewelry creation web-based applications.

Morph Bangle created with the Cell Cycle app and printed in sterling silver, available from Shapeways: http://shpws.me/pjLL

Figure 16-10. Morph Bangle created with the Cell Cycle app and printed in sterling silver, available from Shapeways: http://shpws.me/pjLL

Tofty’s EDC Items


Specializing in useful every-day-carry (EDC) items, Tofty’s multitools have many features and integrate prybars, bit drivers, nail-lifting tools, bottle openers, and metric hex drivers. He also sells flashlights and functional tritium lantern jewelry.

Single-piece prybar, available from Shapeways: http://shpws.me/llzP

Figure 16-11. Single-piece prybar, available from Shapeways: http://shpws.me/llzP

Continuum Fashion


Continuum Fashion’s Strvct nylon shoes are strong, lightweight, and made to order. After printing, they’re fitted with a patent leather inner sole and coated with rubber on the bottom for traction. The designers also made headlines with their 3D-printed bikini. This fashion label also provides creation apps for their other on-demand custom fabric clothing lines CONSTRVCT, and the D.dress.

3D-printed shoe from the “strvct” collection

Figure 16-12. 3D-printed shoe from the “strvct” collection



ModiBot is a figure-based build system that enables you to create your own toys by mixing and matching parts from the ever-expanding ModiBot part system. You can design and build your own fantastical creatures and characters by ordering the parts via Shapeways or downloading them and printing them yourself.

ModiBot Angel at World Maker Faire

Figure 16-13. ModiBot Angel at World Maker Faire

Joaquin Baldwin


The award-winning creator of a number of short animated films, Joaquin Baldwin currently works at Disney Animation Studios by day and in his spare time designs 3D-printable objects that are “a bit of everything nerdy,” from geeky gadgets to videogame-related sculptures and bizarre concept models, like his Bacon Mobius Strip or Caffeine Molecule Mug.

Caffeine Molecule Mug, available from Shapeways: http://shpws.me/op7I

Figure 16-14. Caffeine Molecule Mug, available from Shapeways: http://shpws.me/op7I

Protos Eyewear


San Francisco–based Protos Eyewear, creators of the 8-Bit Sunglasses, recently completed a successful crowdfunding campaign for custom 3D-printed eyewear. They have developed interactive software that enables the user to alter the shape of the glasses to flatter their facial structure using uploaded images.

8-Bit Sunglasses

Figure 16-15. 8-Bit Sunglasses

Freakin’ Sweet Knots


Created by a programmer who likes to tie knots, Freakin’ Sweet Knots was born though John Allwine’s experimental process of creating an engagement ring for his wife. During the process it occurred to me that I could write an app that could generate 3D models of similar rings so they could be 3D printed.

You can create your own knot ring through the Freakin’ Sweet Knots app (http://knots.freakinsweetapps.com), which uploads directly to Shapeways.

Joyce’s Tapered Ring, available from Shapeways: http://shpws.me/olJo

Figure 16-16. Joyce’s Tapered Ring, available from Shapeways: http://shpws.me/olJo



Polychemy is a Singapore-based online designer boutique that makes a variety of 3D-printed products, from jewelry to mobile phone covers, and works with prominent 3D print artists to help sell their work.

Their iPhone cases are printed in a strong, flexible nylon plastic called polyamide, and you can have your name custom-printed into the case.


iPhone case printed in red Polyamide plastic

Figure 16-17. iPhone case printed in red Polyamide plastic

3D Printing in Medicine

From bioprinting to prosthetics, the medical community is embracing 3D printing in a multitude of innovative ways.

Revolutionary Replacements


Researchers at Wake Forest University’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine in North Carolina have created a one-of-a-kind 3D printer designed to print replacement tissues and organs.

Data from CT or MRI scans is used to first create a 3D model. Living cells and biomaterials that hold the cells together are then printed into 3D shapes and implanted in the body, where they continue to develop using the body’s natural regenerative processes. The team has successfully engineered a miniature kidney implanted in a steer and aims to 3D print similar versions for humans.

3D printed replacement tissues and organs

Figure 16-18. 3D printed replacement tissues and organs

Beauty and the Beak


After a poacher in Alaska shot off her upper beak, Beauty the Bald Eagle was found emaciated, unable to eat, drink, or preen her feathers, her tongue and sinuses exposed. Despite recommendations that she be euthanized, raptor specialist Jane Cantwell of Birds of Prey Northwest refused to give up. She teamed up with Nate Calvin, founder of Kinetic Engineering Group. Despite having no previous prosthetics experience, Calvin designed a replacement by making a mold of the remaining beak, scanning it, modifying it in SolidWorks, and creating a temporary 3D printed beak in a nylon composite. A titanium baseplate was affixed to Beauty’s remaining upper beak to act as a guide for the final printed titanium beak.

Beauty the Bald Eagle—before and after her titanium 3D printed beak implant.

Figure 16-19. Beauty the Bald Eagle—before and after her titanium 3D printed beak implant.

Magic Arms


Using hinged metal bars and resistive rubber bands, the Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX) gives patients with underdeveloped arms a wide range of arm motion.

The original WREX, made from machined parts, fit children as young as six, but for two-year-old Emma Lavelle, researchers discovered they could 3D print smaller, lighter parts. Printed using a Stratasys Dimension 3D printer, the ABS plastic exoskeleton allows for easy customization and fine-tuning for the 15 children now using it.

WREX Magic Arms

Figure 16-20. WREX Magic Arms

Tissue Engineering


San Diego-based innovators Organovo have engineered several custom, commercial NovoGen MMX Bioprinters, capable of printing tissue structures.

The machines feature dual extruders: one that prints a water-soluble gel that acts as the scaffolding, and another that fills the armature with a bio-ink of living cells (each drop containing 10K to 30K cells) that naturally flow together and fuse. The fundamental nature of biological materials is to self-organize, and after an incubation period, the cells continue to develop and grow without the gel component. The team has been able to print a 1 mm-diameter, 5 cm-long blood vessel in 30 minutes.

Organovo’s NovoGen MMX Bioprinter.

Figure 16-21. Organovo’s NovoGen MMX Bioprinter.

Designer Prosthetics


Bucking the typical one-style-suites-all model of conventional prosthetics, San Francisco-based Bespoke Innovations makes custom coverings, called Fairings, that surround an existing prosthetic leg, recreating the user’s natural leg shape through 3D scanning, designing, and printing.

Conceived by industrial designer Scott Summit and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kenneth Trauner, Bespoke Fairings are designed in collaboration with the patient, aiming to reflect the individual by offering a number of material and pattern options, including leather, chrome plating, and tattoos.

Bespoke Fairings prosthetic leg covering.

Figure 16-22. Bespoke Fairings prosthetic leg covering.

Jaws of Innovation


A Dutch woman in her 80s was fitted with a 3D-printed jawbone after having her infected mandible removed. Belgian company LayerWise modeled the replacement from a CT scan of the original bone.

Using selective laser sintering, the replacement was made of titanium and covered with a bioceramic coating. The replacement weighed just over an ounce more than the original, and the woman was reportedly speaking within hours after surgery.

3D-printed jawbone

Figure 16-23. 3D-printed jawbone

Not Your Average Chem Set


Researchers at the University of Glasgow have developed a way to synthesize custom labware on a much smaller scale.

Using a low-cost 3D printer and open source CAD software, researchers printed customized vessels, called “reactionware,” out of polymer gel laced with chemical reagents that foster chemical reactions (think of an Erlenmeyer flask infused with chemicals for that day’s lab experiment). It could eventually lead to pharmacists making small, customized batches of medicines for individual patients.

Printing reactionware

Figure 16-24. Printing reactionware

Novel and Artistic Prints

These creative makers created some of the most unique and memorable 3D printed objects to date and most of them are printable on a desktop 3D printer.

Orihon (Accordion Book)

Tom Burtonwood


A book of textures and reliefs made up of six 3D scans of works from the MET, the Art Institute of Chicago, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Field Museum of Natural History. Inspired by a call for submissions from the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College that called for both print-on-demand and photographic books.


Figure 16-25. Orihon

InMoov Humanoid Robot

Gael Langevin “hairygael”


InMoov is the open source life-sized humanoid robot that you can print on a desktop 3D printer (!) and animate. In addition to the printable files, Gael also provides assembly instructions and diagrams to help you get started: http://www.inmoov.fr

Life size humanoid robot

Figure 16-26. Life size humanoid robot

The Makerlele - MK1

Brent J. Rosenburgh “ErikJDurwoodII”


A fully desktop 3D printable (and playable) ukulele that uses an acoustic transducer focus and projects the sound through the body to create a fuller tone. Just print, add bolts and strings, tune it up, and take it for a spin.


Figure 16-27. Makerlele

Head of a Horse of Selene

Cosmo Wenman



This work is a scanned recreation of the famous Parthenon sculpture of the horses who drew the chariot of Selene, the moon goddess. Cosmo’s recreation of the Head of a Horse of Selene was printed in PLA on a MakerBot Replicator 3D printer and is the same size and scale as the original sculpture. Finished in “Epic Bronze” using his Alternate Reality Patinas, it is a new take on a beloved work of antiquity.

Head of a Horse of Selene

Figure 16-28. Head of a Horse of Selene

Orbicular Lamp Series

Nervous System


Part of the Hyphae lighting collection from Nervous System, the Orbicular lamp is based on how veins form in leaves. These complex and unconventional geometries are created using a novel computer simulation process. Each lamp in the collection is a one-of-a-kind design 3D printed in nylon plastic. Lit by eco-friendly LEDs, they cast dramatic shadows on the walls and ceiling.

Orbicular lamp

Figure 16-29. Orbicular lamp

Automatic Transmission Model

Emmett Lalish “emmett”


Have you ever wondered how an automatic transmission works? Emmett Lalish did, so he found out and designed this working desktop model. With six forward speeds (and one reverse speed), this model is a great teaching tool.

Working automatic transmission model

Figure 16-30. Working automatic transmission model

Marble Run

Adam Fontenault and Chris Boynton


This marble run has over 2,000 individual pieces printed from ABS snapped together and has five separate forking paths that carry each marble on its journey. There are two of these colossal displays, one at the MakerBot NYC store and one in the MakerBot offices.

MakerBot Marble Run

Figure 16-31. MakerBot Marble Run

Dita’s Gown

Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti



A fully articulated, completely customized 3D-printed gown based on the Fibonacci sequence, designed to be worn by Dita Von Teese, the queen of burlesque. The dress was designed by Michael Schmidt, 3D modeled by architect Francis Bitonti, and printed in nylon by Shapeways. After printing, the garment was assembled from 17 different pieces, dyed black, and lacquered, and over 13,000 Swarovski crystals were attached to create a “glowing” effect.

Dita’s Gown - Albert Sanchez Photography

Figure 16-32. Dita’s Gown - Albert Sanchez Photography

Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures Cover

Michael Zoellner aka “emnullfuenf”


A printable model of Joy Division’s iconic Unknown Pleasures cover representing pulsar PSR B1919+21 waveforms. Unable to find a vector graphic or 3D model of the cover art, Michael Zoellner ended up hand-tracing the waves, exporting as a DXF, and then extruding them in OpenSCAD.

3D printed Unknown Pleasures cover

Figure 16-33. 3D printed Unknown Pleasures cover

Digital Grotesque

Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger




Digital Grotesque is an elaborate room designed through customized algorithms that is entirely 3D printed out of sandstone. The sandstone was infiltrated with resin to increase the structural stability and close the pores, then coated with pigment, alcohol, and shellac.

Digital Grotesque

Figure 16-34. Digital Grotesque

Eric Chu is a MAKE Labs Alumnus, an engineering student, yo-yo hacker, robot builder, and fried rice aficionado.

Anna Kaziunas France is the Digital Fabrication Editor at Maker Media.

Goli Mohammadi is a Senior Editor at MAKE who has worked on MAKE magazine since the first issue.

Craig Couden is an Editorial Assistant with Maker Media.