How many times have you needed a new handle or flap or clip on something at home that either didn’t come well equipped or broke during your 3-year-old’s birthday party?

A simple break and it’s either glue/duct tape or an impromptu run to the hardware store. Congratulations on living in a world where 3D printing could change all of that!

But what exactly is 3D printing?

Additive manufacturing, also known as “3D printing” is the process of adding layer upon layer of material onto the previous one to build an object from the bottom up. Think of a multi-layer cake. Each layer is added to the previous until you reach diet-busting heights of no return. And if it’s chocolate, more is definitely better.

Similarly, when creating a 3D printed object, the design is tweaked via a 3D computer model, then sent to a printer. A 3D printer works a lot like an inkjet printer, but instead of spraying ink on paper, they apply plastic, wood, clay, cement, silver, sugar, dough, or living cells. The material depends on the object’s use.

Sound futuristic? 3D printing has already arrived in industries such as medicine, fashion, art, architecture, education, construction, and home decor. In fact, the total 3D printing market reached $2.5 billion in 2013 and is expected to grow to $18.2 billion by 2018. As retailers begin to “ship the design, not the product,” a local 3D print shop will be where you pick up customized, locally made products, just like you pick up printed photos now. UPS, Staples and Home Depot already offer 3D printing, and Amazon is close behind.

Thinking about buying a 3D printer? Check out these twelve 3D printed home projects that you can download to a printer near you.

  1. Curious how the proportions of your house plans will work? A printable architecture kit is for you.
  2. Make your own nuts, bolts, washers, and threaded rods by entering the required parameters into a customizer.
  3. Want to add a covered gazebo to the house? Building Bytes offers 3D printed geometric brick DIY designs.
  4. Your Great Dane puppy used a designer chair as a chew toy. You can print a chair of your own design.3d printed chair
  5. Love caving and home décor? Now have both with Stalaclights–Upside Down Skyscrapers pendant lamps.3d printed pendant lamps
  6. Bored with the average home speakers? SoundShapeLab, designer and owner Ricky van Broekhoven, created a speaker from studying music patterns.
  7. Having trouble finding rare parts to restore a classic car? 3D scan and print them.
  8. Can’t get the kids to eat fruit, a countertop palm tree offers up apples, oranges, and more.
  9. Have a family member who can’t keep light switches straight? 3D print labels for stairs, hall, etc.
  10. Steampunk cube gears provide a coffee table conversation piece.
  11. Your daughter’s doll house needs more chairs to accommodate friends? No worries. Digital PlaySpace offers scores of colorful virtual furniture/room designs.
  12. Want Safari decor without dead animals on the walls? Meet Linlin and Pierre-Yves Jacques, who create lacey illuminated elephant, elk, and bear heads.

3d printed busts

This guest post was provided by Linda Williams, a writer who happens to also be a 3D Printing obsessed scientist.