3D printing technologies have matured quite a bit in recent years, and the industry is much different than it was 10 years ago, especially when talking about consumer and hobbyist-focused products.
Luckily, marketing and media hype has quieted down in recent years, moving away from claims that it wouldn’t be long until there was a 3D printer in every home and business.
While 3D printing has not upheaved entire industries, it does still provide many benefits.
For me, now seemed like a good time to purchase a 3D printer, as it aligns with a lot of the types of parts I’m seeking to make for various personal and professional needs.
I have been following 3D printing tech for quite a few years, and have also tried to keep tabs on the types of parts and components that could be made on a desktop printer.
While there is still a huge gap between what can be achieved via tech engineered for commercial and industrial users, and more affordable machines better suited for consumer, hobbyist, and individual users, 3D printing appears to be easier and more affordable than ever before.
A 3D printer isn’t the type of tool that you buy and then figure out what to use it for. Well, it can be, but for myself I kept a mental list of all the things I wanted one for. Now, the tech seems easier to use than before, easing my concern that I couldn’t make 3D printed parts without first committing countless hours to 3D printing as a hobby.
I’m still assembling my printer kit, and so it might end up consuming an inordinate amount of time, but I’m optimistic that it won’t.
While 3D printers are still popularly used to create decorative items, there is an increasing library of functional items that you can make, in addition to any custom parts that you might design yourself.
I was tempted to answer the title question about what you can do with a 3D printer by simply republishing one of our past posts on the topic, but it seemed like a better idea to create an updatable post – here – that can be pointed to whenever the question comes up again in the future.
I hope to add to this post in the future, and am also very eager for reader contributions. Judging from recent comments, quite a few readers also own 3D printers and have been designing and printing their own parts for personal and even professional needs.
Here are some prior ToolGuyd posts with examples of what you can do with a 3D printer:
(The first image is of a 3D-printed helping-hands base with modular hose assembly.)