10 Ideas to Make Your Sweetheart Excited About 3D Printing

With any hobby, you can find yourself totally consumed and drawn away from the people in your life.  3D Printing is no different.  I'm sure we've all had the experience of that all consuming first few weeks or months where 3D Printing becomes all you can think about.  A little bit of time obsessed with a hobby is fine, but too much can take away from the real relationships in your life.  

Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to reflect on this.  3D Printing *IS* awesome and rather than taking you away from that special person in your life, it should be bringing you closer together.  

Here are some ideas for how to do that.  

 

  1. Design and make something with your significant other that supports their hobby or their side project.  My wife is excited about replacing chemicals in our house with essential oils and runs a side business selling essential oils and teaching classes (This Jasmine Life for anyone interested... hey, this blog post applies to my relationship too!)

    Last year, we worked on a project together where she described a design to hold a diffuser and oils starter kit.  I produced it in CAD, then we made a prototype, and iterated a few times.  She ended up using it as an incentive to encourage people to sign up for her business.  



  2. Is 3D Printing your side hustle?  Do you have an Etsy store or something similar?  Try working on it together. 

    Here are a few of the dozens of examples we've encountered:

    Sean and Mercy founded printapot.com based on intersecting interests of succulents and air plants and designing cute and unique 3D Printed Planter.

    You've probably heard of Joel Telling, the 3D Printing Nerd, but you may not know that before becoming one of the Big 3 3D Printing YouTube channels, he started out making cookie cutters and selling them on Etsy with his wife.    

    This can be a bit of a delicate line.  As long as it is a side thing for a little bit of extra spending money, it can easily be fun for both of you, but if it turns from hobby to livelihood, it can be challenging.    

  3. 3D Printed adult objects.  This is a PG blog, so we're not going to go into specific detail, but you know what we mean.  Google will be your friend for more detail on ideas.

    We have this on the list, but please consider our cautions:

    Cuts and infections *will not* be your friend here.  It is something that people do with 3D Printing, but not necessarily something that we consider to be a great idea.  If you make something like this, follow our cautions below and make sure to thoroughly test your piece for strength and any sharp edges.  If you want an added level of safety, it's not a bad idea to simply 3D Print a pattern and cast your object in a material like silicone.

    Make sure what you make is clean and coated with a durable, cleanable, food safe coating.  We'd suggest a silicone. 

    Second, make sure that you are using a material that is strong enough to not break off as a sharp piece.  The Ninjatek materials or nylon (please no glass or carbon filled) are our suggested materials for these types of objects. This is not a part of your life where you want to pay the consequences of saving a few bucks by using junk filament.
     
  4. Use your 3D Printer to print some object or character, then make a mold in food safe silicone, and make chocolates.  The making chocolates can either be part of a gift or a romantic activity to do together.

  5. 3D Print a gift, but make sure to customize it in some way.  Even something as simple as importing the object into tinkercad, then adding text personalization, can be well appreciated.  


    One of our Maker Box co-owners printed this on his Lulzbot Mini with a color changing UV PLA that was featured in one of the sample boxes last year. I believe the rose as a Thingiverse download and the base plate was customized.  Apologies to the designer if I'm mistaken and feel free to correct it in the comments.


  6. Lithophanes.  At this point, I hope you've all printed a lithophane.  These are thin plaques of a negative of a greyscale image.  You use a piece of software to convert your photograph to an STL file where the dark parts of the picture are thick and the light parts are thin.  Print standing up to capture your best resolution in the Z direction and at 100% infill so you don't mess up the light transmission.   When you hold it up to a light, a surprisingly detailed representation of the original picture appears.

    Most slicers actually allow you to simply drag and drop a jpeg in to create one of these, but there are websites like http://3dp.rocks/lithophane/ that create them in more detail. 

    We used a program called Photo2Mesh and did a blog post on this back in 2013 here.  

  7. Are kids part of the picture in your relationship?  Why not make something customized for, or with, the kids?  For many couples, doing something really nice for/with the kids.  Even if your significant other has seen all the awesomeness that 3D Printing has to offer, if you make a design and print outing for you and the kids using your 3D Printer, that will turn any heart.
    Here's an idea for a project.  

  8. Why not attend a 3D Printing or Maker Focused event or a Con?

    Here are some events we will be attending in the coming months.

    Midwest RepRap Fest March 23-25.  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-midwest-reprap-festival-registration-38591937524

    MakerFaire NOVA March 18.  http://nova.makerfaire.com/

    EastCoast RepRap Fest June 22-24.  http://eastcoastreprapfestival.com/event-details/

  9. Get started in 3D Printing together.  You can sign up for one of our classes at printedsolid.com/classes.  Our next session is on March 10th and we still have a space open.

  10. Join a maker space, hacker space together, or local maker related meetup together.  Organizations like this often run group projects that can be a lot of fun.  You can find information on our upcoming meetup events at printedsolid.com/meetup.

 
I hope that you've found some useful ideas on this list.  

Are there other ideas that you've had?  Let us know in the comments.

 




Matthew Gorton
Matthew Gorton

Author

Matthew Gorton is the founder of printedsolid.com. He is a mechanical / materials engineer by education and has worked as a design, process and quality engineer in the medical, electronics, and aerospace industries. He is enthusiastic about applying all he has learned through these experiences to 3D printing and sharing that with others.



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