Until recently, 3D printers were used mostly in specialty applications by businesses and manufacturers or as toys by the wealthy. Today, however, they've become affordable enough to tempt many consumers. Still think they seem frivolous? Here's a look at 19 inexpensive and functional things you can make with a 3D printer instead of having to buy them. (The cost of production varies depending on the printer, software, and materials.)
Keep your in-home library from tumbling with bookends, which are printed as individual pieces and then snapped and glued together. The end result makes it look like an animated man is teleporting through your books. The design was created with Google Sketchbook, and you can use painting portals to create custom colors. Scale up the 12-centimeter design for bigger, heavier hardcovers.
Printing measuring cups saves money you would have spent buying them at the store, and these are not your average measuring cups. They feature "floating" 3D stencils that rise from the bottom of the cup, letting you see the measurement even after the cup is filled. There are designs for five different sizes: 1 cup, three-quarters cup, half cup, third cup, and quarter cup.
Put the squeeze on citrus fruits like lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits with a printed juicer. There are two designs: a solid version and a hollow one with internal ribs. Keep in mind that the default settings are probably too large for all but the biggest grapefruits, so be sure to adjust as needed.