Artificial kidneys, prosthetic limbs, jewelry and art concepts — 3D printing is capable of producing highly complex and customizable products faster and cheaper than handmade or mechanical modes of production.
But for every striking artwork or life-saving piece of equipment there are piles and piles of doodads. Here's a list of seven silly 3D printing projects that'll make you laugh, scratch your head, or maybe — who knows? — you'll be inspired to create some silly 3D printed products of your own.
Fake smartphone winder
Fake Smartphone Winder
Putting this plastic winder key into your phone's audio jack is supposed to make it look like your phone is a wind-up. "Try to convince your friends you have the greenest smartphone on the market!" the product description urges. For $5.31, though, the designer may just be winding the customers up. You can check out this product at Shapeways.
Elasto Plastic is an experimental material offered through Shapeways' website. Its flexibility makes it sometimes prone to deformations during the printing process, but it also happens to erase pencil marks. So, naturally, why not use your expensive 3D printer and your difficult-to-work-with material to create … a pencil eraser. This product isn't for sale, but you can check it out on Shapeways.
The Lotus Top
The Lotus Top
It's not a necklace and it's not a shirt … but it is $686.77. This over-the-shoulders plastic framework is the Lotus top, from Shapeways designer ThreeWay. The designer's other products include fantasy-themed masks, corsets and brassieres. MORE: Are 3D Printers Worth It?Well, if you were going to a fancy gala that takes place in a SyFy channel original movie, you'd be hard-pressed to find better accessories than Threeways' products.
The more you think about it, the stranger it gets. Maybe the advantage of a finger fork is that it's smaller than a regular fork and therefore uses less material. But then again, these finger forks are apparently disposable, so you're actually using more material than if you just bought a regular fork. Perhaps it's just fun to wear a fork on your finger. A $7.21 disposable fork.You can check out this product at Shapeways.
It's a comb especially for your mustache, which is also shaped like a mustache. It certainly has its uses, but unless you're a silken-stashed hipster, it might seem over the top. Just remember, as Cubify designer Travibre so conscientiously reminds potential buyers, "Comb not approved for beard use." You can check out this dashing comb at Cubify's website.
$1 paper clip
$1 Paper Clip
Designing a paper clip is a great beginner's exercise for 3D printing. But why would you then try to sell those paper clips for $2.64 each? Designer sotomanr describes it as an "emergency paper clip" for when you're "in a rush and you need a paper clip to keep your important papers together." But in the time it'd take to place an order for a paper clip at a 3D printing shop, or purchase sotomanr's design for $1 and print it at home on your 3D printer, you could drive down to the store and buy dozens of paper clips for around the same price.
3D printing shoes sounds like a great idea, but these shoes, by designer Janne Kyttanen, look like a combination of Crocs, Dutch wooden clogs and 1960s wedge heels, just look painful. You'd need some sort of cloth or padding to keep the edges from digging into your skin, but then it wouldn't be 100 percent 3D printed, so if you want to be 3D fashion-forward, you just have to suffer. You can download the 3D designs for these shoes free from Cubify's website.