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useful things to 3D print

10 Best things to 3d print

3D printing creates plenty of professional opportunities for architects, engineers, product developers and more. However, it can also create lots of objects for day to day use. What are the 10 best things to 3d print? A great side effect of owning a 3D printer or having access to one, is that there are already a lot of product designs available online to download for free. That means you can simply print it with little to no effort, instead of going to the store and spending money. Careful out there: there are a lot of useless and amateurish creations. That's why we made a list of stuff that's actually useful, fun and print-worthy. 


These small cable and electricity accessories make cheap and quick prints. Although the original items are not that pricey, some of them can cost up to and over € 10. Add some shipping fees or a trip to the store, and your 3D printer wins on both speed and budget.


Phone cases can be printed in just an hour or two, at only a few cents per piece. Why not try a different one every day? Other accessories like phone docks, car vent clips or phone stands are also useful gadgets that can be printed at a stunning 1/10 of the retail price.  


Tired of keeping your pens in a mug? It's your lucky day! There are plenty of product designs available online, ranging from stylish to creative, to spruce up your office space. From simple pen holders to stationary like tape dispensers, rulers, paperclips etc..., the cost to print these objects can beat retail price anytime by 1/3. 


Never fear an emergency: you can always print tools. If a plastic wrench is durable enough for astronauts, imagine what it can do for you. Not in the least: save a few bucks. Not all tools have to be tough though, like golden ratio calipers and other measuring tools. Again, definitely worth it to print.


Piggy banks today come in more shapes and sizes as they ever did, thanks to 3D printing. Take a look on Thingiverse and be amazed by all the possibilities. The downside can be the printing time and cost for the larger ones. The cost of bigger volumes can match the cost of the purchase of a piggy bank in the store. Still, the ones you print will always be more unique.


Let's not forget the little ones. With 3D printing a child's imagination will run wild. A new creative lego piece, a bowling set, accessories for other toys like Sphero, board games, etc..., will make your 3D printer run 24/7. Don't worry about the running costs: they won't be that dramatic. Find an overview of complete costs in our infographic on our blog here.


Not too crazy about the Christmas decorations in stores or online? 3D printing can be your red-nosed friend here. Ornaments, lighting, napkin rings, the entire Christmas spirit can be printed. The possibilities are so endless, you'll be staring at different styles every year. Watch our use case with some truly inspiring Christmas decorations here. 


Having some sweet visitors over who brought flowers? But forgot the vase? Have one printed during their stay. Other home accessories are both cheaper to print and unique in design as well. So next time you're at the store, you'll think twice about buying candle holders, expensive bottle stands and designer chess sets.


Finding the right lighting that matches your taste can be tricky. The really nice ones are so overpriced that just a bulb hanging from your ceiling suddenly doesn't look that shabby. Not when owning a 3D printer. There are some stunning designs available for free and at the cost of an Ikea lamp (or cheaper) you will have a designer lampshade to amaze your friends and family. 


At Tripodmaker, we firmly believe you should not print all your furniture. But a small chair for the little ones can be a good start at a reasonable cost. Step 2 would be to try some of the great Ikea hacks out there. If your printer still has some free time, which we hardly believe at this point, you could try a chair set or some modular connectors to create storage, shelves and drawers. Mmm. Maybe it's time to get a second printer?

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We got a tremendous amount of questions regarding the total cost of owning and running a 3D printer. Based on a timespan of 3 years we created this infographic to make a visual documentation of this data. Beside the obvious material and electricity 3D printer running costs we included maintenance, labour and device cost to get a realistic overview of the complete investment. 

3D printer running costs
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3D Hubs is an international printing service that introduces the public to nearby 3D printers. If you’ve purchased a 3D printer, this is a great way to partially earn it back or at least cover your costs. It may seem like a challenge - as over 30.000 printers are already listed - but with these inside tricks about pricing, visual appeal and online visibility, you might come out a winner after reading this article.


Expecting to receive an order within minutes of setting up your hub, is kind of unrealistic. You’ll first have to make your hub visually appealing. Go ahead and upload some pictures of your best 3D prints yet, and use a header image showcasing your brand. Feel free to add your business homepage in the visual. Because depending on which business you’re in, 3D Hubs might just help you win over potential clients.

Your ultimate goal may be to earn money, but in order to do so, it is equally important to use 3D Hubs as a branding tool - an extension to your business or private portfolio. Look at it as another online platform to be present on.

how to make money on 3D hubs TIP 1


The first orders will be the trickiest. After printing the required ‘Marvin’ figure to be able to register, you’ll get one decent review - given by 3D Hubs itself. It’s better than nothing, but it’s still just one. Experienced buyers on 3D hubs know this and already have their trusted printers to order from. The first customers you’ll get, are likely to be new to the system and could very well be content with just one review.

But to get those first orders - and reviews - quicker, consider these tricks:

  1. Lower your prices temporarily – Check surrounding hubs’ prices with a random STL file, and then lower your price accordingly.
  2. Call on your friends – You probably have friends or colleagues asking you to print something all the time anyway. Put it to use, and let them order through your hub. You could of course avoid the 3D Hubs fee altogether by printing it directly for the person… But for your hub rating an extra order will make all the difference. We’d advice you to limit this to smaller prints (like a phone case, keyhanger etc) as the fees will be much lower.

Combining these 2 tricks will certainly secure those first orders.

how to make money on 3D hubs TIP 2


The more than 30.000 printers listed should not worry you at all. Many 3D Hubs shoppers like to browse local hubs. As many of them are new to 3D printing or are busy exploring different kinds of printers, they might prefer a local pickup to see the machine or even meet your business.

So don’t expect to ship overseas, as orders will likely come from your own country. You might receive some orders from surrounding countries, but only if your pricing is competitive with shipping included.

how to make money on 3D hubs TIP 3


- Compare yourself to other hubs and know your competitive advantages

Setting the right price can get tricky. The best way to do this, is to upload a STL file and research the lowest prices on surrounding hubs.

Depending on how professional the hub with the lowest price looks like (in terms of branding/pictures/print quality) and what you have to compete against (build volume/resolution/printer type), be sure to set your price the same or slightly lower.

In case the hub with the lowest price can’t compete with most of your features (large build volume/more materials or colours/better surface finish/branding), take it further and set your price even higher.



Earn money with 3D hubs TIP 4

- Print resolution vs. pricing

Hubs tend to set different prices for different layer heights. Prices for high resolution prints (0.1 mm) are often very expensive. Our Prisma software works volumetric and the layer height only has a very small impact on print duration, which is a great advantage. To set the same price for any resolution or maintaining only a few cents difference in between, may outbid a competing hub and win you an order.

The most common prices come in at around € 0.25 per cm3 with a startup cost between € 4 to € 8 for medium resolution.

For instance: a spool of PLA 750g at € 25 costs € 0.04 per cm3. So counting the hub fee/electricity cost/labour, the margins are still worth your effort.

Keep in mind the printing time vs the price. Setting a lower price might result in getting bigger objects to print and thus longer print times. So be sure to communicate the printing time as clear as possible, as it might exceed the delivery time set.

how to make money on 3D hubs TIP 4


As we all know by now: sharing is caring. Joining 3D hubs means you get to share this amazing 3D printing technology with people who would either like to try it themselves, or who don’t use it routineously. Online sharing has become a part of us, so do share your accomplishments and use them as content on your social channels. Add a ‘3D print through our hub’ Call To Action in your email signature and perhaps mention it on your business card.

how to make money on 3D hubs TIP 5


3D Hubs is a great way to earn extra cash, but it can also be seen as an extension of your brand’s portfolio. Besides the earnings, you will be able to create an interaction with potential clients. In your next package to send out, why not slip in a flyer or a promotion for your main business? In the end, you can surely expect to cover the material and electricity costs, and partially regain the purchase cost of your device. But the main benefit will always be the visibility you’ll gain in a stylish and contemporary network.

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how 3d printing works

This evening, I came across this cool infographic of Naomi Paton. If you are on the verge of explaining to somebody how 3D printing works, you might save yourself some time and forwarding him/her this blog-post. Ok, it features a 3D printer design of an obvious competitor, but hey, it’s about the content =)

Also consider checking their website. I definitely need to view their 10 Amazing TED Talks About science and technology. Something maybe for the weekend



how 3d printing works infographic


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Software is the second most importent thing when it comes down to 3D printing. To end, I will tell you what the most importent thing is in 3D printing. But first, my attempt to bundle some info on this best free 3d printer software topic.


When it comes down to get started with 3D printing, you first need hardware. This could be tricky, or you could consider a TripodMaker ;-). However, I had the biggest difficulty in finding the right software during the Era when I was playing with my RepRap prusa i1 and i2. There is no such thing as the best software set. I will try to provide you with a brief overview so you can decide what fits you best.



A 3D printer can not cope directly with files from a CAD program. 3D or CAD files need to be processed before they become printable. This process is called slicing. The slicer (software) is the first tool we use when 3D printing.

A slicer uses commonly used .STL files to create .Gcode files. Gcode files contain instructions for the 3D printer on where, when, and how fast to make movements. However, Gcode programming is not very suitable for CAD and 3D design. This is where the slicer and the .STL file comes into use.

The .STL file is a 3D model file that can be exported by all common CAD and 3D modeling software. The slicer software then slices the .STL 3D model into layers and print paths to create a 3D printable .Gcode file.There are several slicer programs out there, but I found these 2 the most suited for my needs:

1) Slic3r
2) Kisslicer
3) Cura

Keep in mind that slicer settings are not always as straightforward as you think. It is always some trial and error before you can get started with printing. With your TripodMaker, predefined settings are available.


Slic3r is an original project of Alessandro Ranellucci (aka. Sound). The program is under constant refinement from Alessandro and other contributors. By the time of writing, the current version is 1.0.0RC2.

+ Easy setup
+Works Stand-alone
+Compatible with several Hosting programs
+Supports multi-model printing
+Can split and save STL files
+Can handle big STL files
- No integrated tool path viewer after slicing.


In my opinion this is the best slicer that is out there right now. It might be not as good looking but is performs great. It has a Free version for single printer-head printers. The paid Pro Version has multi printer-head support and multi-model printing.

+ Best surface finish
+ Easy setup
+ Works Stand-alone
+ Compatible with several Hosting programs
+ Integrated tool path viewing
- Supports only multi-model printing in payed version
- Can't split and save STL files
- Can’t handle super big STL files


 A host is a software program on your computer that communicates with your 3D printer. It makes sure that you don’t have to type the Gcode “command-line style” to control your printer head around the printer surface and its temperature.

The Gcode is pushed to the printer through a USB connection. For single moves during calibration, this is really handy.

Next to the navigation part,  you can monitor temperature and position of your hot-end during print.

Make sure you install the right drivers to be able to connect your printer to your computer.

Two free available host programs are

1)Printrun (info and download)
2)Repetier Host (info and download).

While Printrun is is only a host program, Repetier Host integrates also Slic3r software and previewing modes.


Easy control of the printer with navigation cross
2D representation of status during print
Compatible with all kinds of slicers


Easy control of the printer
Integrated Slic3r functionality (Slic3r and Cura)
3D representation of Slicing result
Compatible with all kinds of slicers
Can be configured for Delta printers like the TripodMaker.