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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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In our previous articles in “Getting started with 3D printing series”, we have provided a step-by-step guide to 3d printing from the moment you have chosen the appropriate hardware. We explained how to generate your CAD (Computer-aided design) model for those wanting to design the 3D object themselves, as well as for the users that prefer to download object files from other designers. Once you have managed to create or repair your STL file, you need to feed it into the slicing software. The slicing software converts the STL file into a machine code, the ‘g-code’, which is basically the path per layer that the 3D printer must follow in order to construct the printed object. Software is the second most important thing when it comes to 3D printing. In our last article we provided a detailed selection of the best free slicer software required to prepare and execute a 3D print. Today we will finally discuss about the actual printing and the surface finishing.


Now that you have your ‘g-code’, the 3D printer has its marching orders on exactly how to execute the necessary movements to realize your print. As explained, the g-code enables the printer to see the STL file as a list of coordinates for the print head to follow for depositing material. There are two ways in which this is accomplished. If the 3D printer is linked to your PC, the data stream goes from your PC to the printer via a cable. The main drawback with this method is that the print will fail if the connection breaks off or the PC crashes. If the 3D printer is linked with an SD card, the data stream flows from the SD card to the printer. This is a stand-alone operation and is less prone to fail if the other hardware fails. Make sure you have set up your device properly. Each device has its own prerequisites for how to use it for every new print, such as adding the materials the printer will use. When the moment comes for the actual printing, the whole procedure is mainly automatic. The thickness of layers is about more or less 0,1 mm each. Depending on the size of the object, the 3D printer and the materials employed, the procedure could take from several hours to several days.

How to 3D print and how to smooth your 3D prints


Once you have removed carefully your printed object, you may need to clean your print’s surface. It may happen so that after an object is 3D printed it will require some post-processing, depending on the quality of your printer and of the filament you used. Certain printing techniques require internal supports to be built for overhanging features during construction. These supports must be mechanically removed or dissolved upon completion of the print. Once you remove the support structure and any potential overhang or stringing, your print will be ready, but the surface finishing will probably not be optimal yet. There are several techniques to smoothen the surface of your prints, such as sanding, chemical vapor, coating, painting, etc. The choice of each finishing technique depends largely on part geometry and the material you used. Different methods allow for different textures and appearances.

Smooth your 3D prints


A common finishing technique for the FDM objects is sanding. Sanding is an inexpensive, effective, and proven method to reach a smooth finish. It is consistently the most widely used finishing technique for 3D-printed parts. It’s recommended to be avoided for the tiny parts. Some printable polymers such as ABS, allow the surface finishing to be smoothed and improved using chemical vapor processes. When it comes to coating, it can be both decorative and functional. For instance metal coating gives the appearance of production metal or plated parts and provides a hard, wear-resistant surface with reflective properties. Painting 3D printed parts is a vast world of acrylics, enamels, sprays, and airbrushes. After sanding, you may add an initial coat of primer and inspect the surface again for imperfections. Primer is a special type of paint that adheres strongly to the part and provides a uniform surface for paint to bond with. After the specified drying time, the part is ready for painting. There are several tips for a smooth paint job and it’s always preferable to finish with a clear coat to protect the paint job. Some additive manufacturing techniques are capable of using multiple materials in the course of constructing parts. These techniques are able to print in multiple colors and color combinations simultaneously, and would not necessarily require painting.print in multiple colors and color combinations simultaneously, and would not necessarily require painting.

Painting 3D printed model


We just completed our  “Getting started with 3D printing” series! We hope that our posts inspired more people to get into designing for 3D printing and that they will do a lot of exciting work. 

We will stay committed to our mission, making 3D printing available to everyone. Since you're now ready to start, we will continue our research to provide you with the latest news,tips and tricks on 3D printing. Our next articles will cover a great variety of topics and will be located on our blog page under the category "All you can know". In case you need to freshen up your memory on the basics, our previous "Getting started" series can be found on our blog page or you can download our free ebook for a more expanded version of the series.




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When it comes to getting started with 3D printing, you need to choose the right hardware for you. Tripodmaker has a mission to make 3D printing accessible to everyone. In our previous articles in “Getting started with 3D printing series”, we have offered an overview of the 7 different types of additive manufacturing processes and how to choose the appropriate technology based on your needs. 

By now, you may already have chosen the right 3D printer for yourself. We have explained how to generate your CAD (Computer-aided design) model in order to get started with 3d printing. For those wanting to design the 3D object themselves, we offered a review of free and paid online software. For the users that prefer to download object files from other designers, we offered a selection of websites with 3D models database. Once you have managed to create or repair your STL file, you need to feed it into the slicing software. The slicing software (also called a slicer) converts the STL file into a machine code, the ‘g-code’, which is basically the path per layer that the 3D printer must follow in order to construct the printed object. Software is the second most important thing when it comes to 3D printing. In today’s article we will provide a detailed selection of the best free slicer software required to prepare and execute a 3D print.

Tripodmaker's prisma slicer

Once you have created or obtained your STL file, you need to feed the STL file into the slicing software. If you remember, almost all additive manufacturing processes work by creating stacked layers that are a cross section of the part you want. To build the part you must slice the geometry in software. This is hard work, but the intersection with a triangle is very easy. This makes creating the path for each layer so much simpler. So, the slicing software (also called a slicer) converts the STL file into a machine code, the ‘g-code’, which is basically the path per layer that the 3D printer must follow in order to construct the printed object. “G-code” is the common name for the most widely used numerical control programming language in which people tell computerized machine tools how to make something. The "how" is defined by instructions on where to move, how fast to move, and what path to move. The slicing software can either be open source or specifically designed for your printer model. An open source slicing software provides greater flexibility with the settings and you might have to tweak those for your specific printer model. A closed source slicing software is easier to use because there are less settings to adjust, and its default settings are adapted for the specific 3D printer in question. Here is a list of the best free slicing programs: 




Prisma is a cloud-based slicer platform that is perfectly configured for the Tripodmaker professional 3D printer. It comes pre-set with the appropriate dimensions of the Tripodmaker's print bed and it includes specific settings which allow you to start right away. The slicer settings of Prisma are quite simple. For instance, in terms of printing speed, you can choose between normal and high. The infill settings are limited to hollow, normal, strong and solid. The Library tab offers a practical feature, the possibility to store all your previously used 3D models and to display them with a preview image. To sum it up, Prisma’s main focus is to make 3D printing easy, especially for someone new to slicing. 100% adapted to the Tripodmaker 3D printer, it still offers the user a certain freedom and guarantees at the same time optimal performance and print success.

Prisma slicer on mac



Slic3r is an open source slicer software. The code and the algorithms are not based on any other previous work and aim for readability and maintainability. Slic3r, being a true non-profit community project, allowed the community to experiment with several original new features that have become common thereafter such as multiple extruders, brim, micro-layering, bridge detection, command line slicing, variable layer heights, sequential printing (one object at time), honeycomb infill, mesh cutting, object splitting into parts, AMF support, avoid crossing perimeters, distinct extrusion widths, and much more. All of these features were first introduced in Slic3r and are now part of the commercial software out there. The current version of the 3D printing software includes multiple views so users can better preview how their models will 3D print. Some of its many advantages are its easy setup and the compatibility with several Hosting programs. It supports multi-model printing, can split and save STL files and can also handle big STL files.

tripodmaker slicing tools



KISSlicer is a fast, easy-to-use, cross-platform program that takes 3D files (STL) and generates path information (g-code) for a 3D Printer.  The free version has all the features needed for the 3D printing enthusiast who uses a single-head machine.  The pro version essentially adds multi-head and multi-model printing. It is compatible with several Hosting programs. In our opinion this is one of the best slicer that is out there right now. This fast slicing software will save you a great deal of time and energy. It offers adjustable printer speed, smart multi-head temperature control and can handle overlapping meshes. Thanks to its adaptive sparse infill and its adaptive support it can also help you save material. It offers high quality prints and the best surface finishing. With minimal settings and easy preview it’s perfect for those getting started with 3D printing. Just keep in mind that it only supports multi-model printing in its payed version, it can't split and save STL files and can’t handle very big STL files either.

kissslicer tripodmaker



Cura is the standard slicer software for all Ultimaker 3D printers, but it can also be used with most other 3D printers. It’s fully open source and can be extended via a plugin system. For people new to 3D printing it will do everything you need it to and for experts there’s a world of advanced settings to tinker with. This 3D printing software allows you to manage the most important 3D print settings in a clear interface. Start in “Basic” mode to rapidly learn how to use it, where you can choose reconfigured printer quality settings. When you need more precise control over the print quality settings, switch to over “Expert” mode. You can also use Cura as 3D printer host software for direct control over your machine. Keep in mind that the 3D printer needs to be connected to the PC during the process. The biggest drawback for Cura, if any, is that when you get a rare slicing bug you would better get around it than wait for a fix!



There is no best hosting program as some people claim. The best thing is to get a couple of them and use them for different functionalities. We believe it is not interesting to print complete objects through your hosting software by “streaming” the “g-code” to your printer. The data can’t move fast enough from your computer to your printer. This could therefore result in poor quality of your printed object. We suggest that you save your “g-code” files on an SD-card. In this way, you are able to transfer your “g-code” file in one operation to your printer, through a USB connection or on an SD-card. It’s the best way to avoid streaming issues and your entire “g-code” file will be saved on your printer’s memory. There are quite a few hosting software but we propose our two favorites (both free):



The Repetier-Host is a simple to use host software, which is compatible with most 3D printer firmware around. It can be configured for Delta printers like the TripodMaker too. You can add and position your STL files on the simulated print-bed and slice them. For slicing you can use the integrated Slic3r and Cura functionality. Repetier Host actually merges the 2 slicers in one software and allows you to link your computer to your printer to easily monitor temperature, progress and to manually control your printer. Just use "Slice & Load" and the job gets delegated to the slicer, showing its output in the log window. In the G-Code editor you can change or analyze your code. The host runs on Windows XP or higher, Linux, and Mac OS X. You also get a 3D representation of the slicing result.  




Printrun is a 3D printing host software suite which talks to your printer and handles the printing process. It allows you to control the printer with a navigation cross. Printrun has become the default control software for more than half of the 3D printers used by enthusiasts due to its powerful yet simple to use interface called Pronterface. It is pre-packaged with Slic3r and is able to control all RepRap and Makerbot based 3D printers. Compatible with all kinds of slicers, it is entirely open source and freely available for download. It offers a 2D representation of the status during printing.