When it comes to picking the right gift, it’s the thought that counts. But it doesn’t hurt to get something the recipient will actually enjoy too. Whether you’re excited about trying 3D printing, or you’re a pro and you’re thinking about new ways to use your skills, you might want to consider 3D-printed gifts.
This can offer a remarkable opportunity for personalization, something psychologists say helps give us a sense of control. So why not choose a gift that communicates how much you care and provides a bit of emotional security too? (1)
That said, in this article are six 3D-printed gift ideas you should consider.
If you’ve got a friend or family member who loves to play board games or tabletop role playing games (TTRPG), 3D printing can unlock a whole range of cool, unique gift ideas. You could make a set of custom game pieces for their favorite Eurogame—something that’s sure to get your gaming group talking at the next session.
If they’re into playing Dungeons & Dragons or another TTRPG, you could also 3D print tokens or miniatures. While some people enjoy spending the many hours—and many, many dollars—it takes to build and painted miniatures, a 3D printed one could be a great gift. Plus, if they like it, you could add to their collection when the next gift-giving occasion comes around.
If you want to make something truly personal, 3D printing could be the ticket. Personalized items make great gifts because they show you’ve thought carefully about what you want to give the gift’s recipient. Research has shown a wide range of reasons that people list for wanting personalized gifts, including everything from seeking a unique item to identity expression and an increased sense of ownership. (2)
Whether you end up personalizing a set of bookends, a pencil holder, or a cookie cutter, you can include an important date, the name of the recipient, or whatever other details would make the gift truly special.
Here’s a specific example of a personalized gift that could mean the world to someone, even if it seems small: a personalized keychain. If your friend or family member has a unique name, they may never have the chance to buy the kind of souvenir that so many people take for granted. You could print them their very own personalized license plate keychain or whatever other pattern you take a liking to and let them know you thought of them in a way that they’ll carry with them.
Sometimes you might have a great gift idea, but price gets in the way. Say you’re partner loves Star Wars, and you know they’d love something lightsaber-related like the special one revealed in the first season of The Mandalorian (no spoilers here). While you might not be able to match the glowing blade, you could easily find a pattern for the hilt of a specific lightsaber and print that without breaking the bank.
If you want to give a gift inspired by the Marvel or DC films, you could choose a friend’s favorite character and 3D print a model of them. Whatever the film or franchise, there’s likely a pattern out there that could work.
5. Remote-controlled models
While this may take a bit more skill, it could be a fun choice for the right person. A remote-controlled (RC) model is a great application for 3D printing and can provide endless fun for the recipient, whether they’re a kid or a hobbyist. If you know someone who has a passion for RC planes, maybe you could help them craft their next one. Or if you’ve got the chops, consider printing an RC car for your niece or nephew or for your own kids.
6. Phone cases and device stands
This is a fun way to add a bit of flair to your desk and to give someone something they’ll use all the time. There are a whole range of patterns for custom phone cases that can be 3D printed. Plus, you could also print a stand for their device so you can easily FaceTime or video chat them. Even if someone has had the same phone or tablet for years, a new case or stand could make it feel new and all for a great price.
3D printing is fun because of the capacity it offers for personalization. If you’re thinking about 3D printing a gift for someone, consider their hobbies and what they do every day, and you’ll be sure to find something that they’d appreciate. So whether you’re printing a gift or a box to put it in, 3D printing can help you can pick out something just right for your friend, partner, or family member.
- “Consumer control and customization in online environments: an investigation into the psychology of consumer choice and its impact on media enjoyment, attitude, and behavioral intention”, Source: https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/18054
- “Why Would People Purchase Personalized Products Online? An Exploratory Study”, Source: http://jitm.ubalt.edu/XXVIII-4/article2.pdf