A Few Cents can Buy Custom Made Fun with a 3D Printer
Did you know that 3D printed toys are really quite cheap? Sure, your printer cost several hundred dollars (or more), but a roll of brightly colored plastic filament can be picked up for around $17.
Weighing 13 grams, you could crank out 153 of these 2 inch tall tops from a standard roll of PLA printer filament. *
*Yes, yes, 3D printing uses the metric system and filament is measured by the grams and meters. Don’t make me measure that thing in centimetres or my head might explode.
3D Printing is a Modern Family Hobby
3D printing is the perfect hobby your whole family can enjoy. Sure, it requires a bit of adult supervision, but so does teaching your kid to cook or use a Dremel on their Pinewood Derby car.
No Need for Design Skills
You don’t need to know how to design 3D prints to start making toys and gadgets! Many designers share their creations for free on sites like Thingiverse, MyMiniFactory, Cults…and even NASA!
But if you are ready to tackle design, start with Tinkercad! It’s a free online program developed for students by the pros at AutoCad.
Make Sure You Print Toys for Your Child’s Age
Please remember that most files you’ll find online were created by other 3D enthusiasts, not professional toy makers. A lot of toys I’ve seen online have small parts or easily broken pieces. If your kid isn’t ready for regular sized LEGOs, they’re not ready for your home made 3D creations.
But if your kids are elementary aged and up and want to learn practical STEM skills and computerized art they’ll love 3D printing!
The Best 3D Printed Toys
Want to 3D print something fun and (sorta) useful? Try making some of these cool toy designs!
Just like the popular Jedi saber you can find in stores, this toy sword has a collapsible tube for the blade. The amazing part? Some of the designs print all at one time! Others print in 2 or 3 parts so you can make the hilt a different color. He has swords for knights, ninjas, pirates and jedi.
This "Springo" pineapple was created by YouTuber Devin Montes for his Make Anything fans. The pineapple is a 3D scan of an actual fruit! He then carefully sprialized it in Fusion 360 and printed. This is an advanced print as you need to be careful of the tolerances and physically slice the layers of the spring apart. We printed ours in two parts, using gold and green filaments. Check out Devon's MyMiniFactory page for lots of different Springo files you can download for free.
There's a whole series of these "surprise egg" toys and each one is awesome. The wheels roll and the dumpster lifts! The toy truck and egg each print separately, but as ONE PIECE so there's no need for supports. There are nine free designs and two premium hollow Easter Egg designs.
You'll need a super level bed to print these high flyers! They print flat, then fold into shape, with a separate hook that you glue in place for your rubber band. Click over to Thingiverse for a YouTube showing these gliders in flight.
It's tea time! This perfect toy tea set prints without supports like MAGIC. You can open the pot and fill with water, or just use your imagination. Can scale up or down to fit your kid's favorite tea party friends. (Read more on food safe printing here.)
You know how much we LOVE catapults around here! This 3D printed catapult prints all in ONE piece and will last for a few hundred throws. It has amazing range for such a tiny catapult! The designer made his in ABS, but we had great luck with using regular PLA.
Here's a complete set of sand box toys from the company that brought you Benchy, the Benchmarking Boat. Ok, sure, you could grab these at the Dollar Store...but isn't it more fun to print your own? I think it would be fun to scale these down for kitchen table play!
This is the most amazing doll house project you'll see! The designer has recreated his OWN HOUSE, complete with scanned furniture. If you're looking to print some interesting pieces for your own kid's doll house, this is a one stop shop.