By Jason Vander Griendt

July 8, 2020 at 3:47 pm

Back when I was growing up, my grandfather made me simple toys out of wood, and later on I’d hack bits and pieces of wood together to make swords and shields. I had lego, mechanix sets and board games but not much else! Back then (I feel old…) if you weren’t buying or crafting toys out of scrap pieces of wood there weren’t a lot of options, and those wooden toys I was making were honestly not that great.

How far we have come and how much things have changed in the space of 30 years or so!

3D printing technologies have revolutionized many different aspects of society – from huge 3d printers that can print a house from concrete in 12 – 24 hours to the use of 3d printing tech to make affordable alternatives to otherwise very costly prosthetic limbs.

But perhaps the most fun way that 3D printing is being used is to create totally unique toys, gadgets and games. With 3D printing, for your kids or yourself, the only limit to what can be created is imagination.

Here are just some of the ways that 3D printing can be used to create toys, gadgets and games:

Need a way to keep the kids occupied during COVID-19 lockdown? Completely unique 3D printed toys to the rescue!

In this article on a number of examples are given where parents are using 3d printing with their kids to engage them in the maker process.

Imagine being able to take the ideas of your kids, design and print them before their eyes, and then work with them to iterate on the design over time until it’s perfect and functions the way they wanted it to.

Not only will your kids have completely unique toys (and most likely, a sense of amazement at the process), but you can also teach them valuable lessons about design, perspective, inventing, prototyping, and even minimum viable products and business (if you’re into that sort of thing), helping them understand many complex ideas in a fun and hands-on way.

This could be particularly useful in the current environment where keeping the kids entertained has sometimes been a challenge. 3D printing potentially offers hours if not days of quiet entertainment.

Or for the smarter people out there, how about 3D printed chess.

Make your own scenery

If you like playing Warhammer, constructing miniature railways or wargaming scenarios, 3d printing offers the perfect alternative to buying expensive scenery kits or spending hours upon hours constructing sets or making miniature characters by hand. Just dream up your scenery, customize it however you want, set it to print, add some paint and other finishing touches and you’re done!

You’ll have more unique and interesting set pieces for your games in no time.

3d printed scenery

Love fidget spinners?

Do you love fidget toys, like fidget spinners, fidget cubes, spinning tops and more? What if you could design your own that were completely unique?

3D printing is perfectly suited to this sort of application. Just check out the “gear cube” for instance:

The file for this gear cube is available on Thingiverse

Back in 2017 fidget spinners, a relatively simple toy, went viral and became a global phenomena. All of a sudden you could find them in almost every store that sold general goods, and many people made their livelihoods off the back of them. They also spawned a series of alternate fidget devices.

What if you had an idea for a revolutionary new fidget device that could take the world by storm? With 3d printing you could iterate on the design until it was perfect and ready for mass production.

Need help with an idea like that? See the last point in this post below.

Printing musical instruments and inventing new ones

Many people would like to learn a musical instrument, but many instruments like guitars, trumpets, cellos etc. are expensive! What if you could print a musical instrument that could play as well as anything you could buy in the store but cost almost nothing in comparison to a regular instrument?

Again you’ll find a lot of innovative ideas for 3d printed instruments on youtube. Like this great bass alternative for instance:

The cool thing about 3d printed instruments is that you can customize them any way you like. Add your name, change the colour, add a pattern to the exterior, whatever you’d like to make it your own!

And if you’re feeling extra adventurous you might even like to try creating a hybrid instrument, or an all new instrument of your very own creation.

3D printing to repair toys or as practice for bigger and better 3D printing projects

3D printing is also great for restoring old, broken toys. Quickly, easily and cheaply you can fix toys that otherwise would have been thrown away. Not only does this mean prolonging the life of a beloved toy, but it also helps the environment by consuming less.

3D printed toys can also be good practice and serve as the jumping off point into much bigger, better or more complex 3d printing projects. It’s not such a problem if you mess up a small toy, but making a design mistake in a 100 hour print could be an expensive problem!

Need some more inspiration? If you search on Youtube for 3D Printed Toys, you’ll get lots of results. There are also plenty of free design files that can be found online in various places and that are perfectly legal to print from for personal use.

But what if you a.) don’t want to learn CAD design, b.) don’t have a 3d printer or c.) need help taking your idea further?

For some people who don’t want to spend the many hours it takes to learn CAD design, you can still create unique toys. You might be surprised how affordable getting a company like JCAD to do your designs for you can be. You can then print these designs on your home printer, or if you’d rather not learn the ins and outs of 3d printing, let us print your toy and send it direct to your door! You can find examples of how much it costs to 3D print various items in this article.

Or for a more specific idea tailored to your project, just get in touch through the chat widget on the site, through our quote form, or by calling us directly on 1.888.202.2052. We’d love to hear about your project!

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Jason Vander Griendt

Jason Vander Griendt is a Mechanical Engineering Technician with years of experience working at major companies such as SNC Lavalin Inc, Hatch Ltd. Siemens and Gerdau Ameristeel. He is the CEO of JCAD – Inc., a company he started in 2006 after seeing a gap in the market for businesses who could assist clients through the entire product design and manufacturing process.

Jason has been featured in Forbes, has had his businesses analyzed and discussed in multiple start-up books, was a previous winner of the Notable8 Digital Innovator of the year award, and is a regular guest on business panels and podcasts. Email Jason at or follow him on LinkedIn.

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