Tag Archives: 3d printing

Why using 3D printing in your smart home is so useful

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Why using 3D printing in your smart home is so useful

3D printing, the stuff of science fiction only a few short years ago, is becoming more widely available all the time. Buying your own 3D printer to keep in your home is now fairly accessible, with entry-level printers available for just a few hundred dollars.

But why would you buy one? It’s easy to think 3D printers are still a niche toy, exciting for a few enthusiasts but largely useless for the general population. But this couldn’t be more wrong — 3D printers have a wide range of very practical uses for everyday households.

In this article, we’ll take a look at why 3D printing is so useful and some of the many reasons to consider adding a 3D printer to your own smart home.

Why 3D printing is so useful

  • It’s fast and convenient. With a 3D printer, you can produce simple objects, creations, and components for existing items in a fairly short amount of time — much quicker than ordering the same things online or heading to a local store.
  • You get a ton of control over what you print. Need a very specific shaped object to repair a broken item in your home? It may be impossible to buy what you need anywhere, but a 3D printer allows you to create exactly the right size and shape you need.
  • It’s relatively affordable. As mentioned, basic 3D printers can be had for fairly cheap nowadays, and printing — for smaller objects, at least — costs very little.
  • It’s sustainable. It’s much more sustainable to print your own things than order them across large distances, and this is especially true for niche items that might need to be shipped across the globe to reach you.

Using 3D printing in your smart home

So what can you use a 3D printer for? There are many potential uses for a 3D printer in your smart home, and they range from practical tasks like repairing broken furniture to more creative hobbies. Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons to own a 3D printer.

Create useful items for your home

3D printers are perfect for creating small, useful items to use around the home. Some examples are coasters, decorations, lampshades, stationery, and small kitchen tools. This is a great way to combine practical use with a fun creative hobby, putting your own personal spin on the little items you use every day.

Repair items

You know that table you have that just never sits right? The door handle that doesn’t quite match the others in the house? The light switch that doesn’t fit exactly flush with the wall?

3D printing is the perfect solution to many of these small defects and faults. Because you have so much control over what you print — 3D printers can print according to virtually any instructions — it’s easy to create components to fix and spruce up the objects and appliances around your smart home.


3D printers aren’t a regular fixture in classrooms around the world just yet, but it’s only a matter of time. These machines allow students to take a more hands-on and creative approach to their learning. Some examples could be:

  • Science projects like creating models of the solar system of the structure of an atom
  • Geography work like printing detailed models of mountains or volcanoes
  • All kinds of product design work
  • Creative work like art

Arts and creative projects

Creative projects aren’t just for the classroom — many people own 3D printers purely for their own artistic work. There’s almost no limit to what a 3D printer can do in this area, and with a little experience, it’s possible to create truly beautiful and incredibly detailed works of art at home.

Build your own smart home with Arduino

3D printing is just one aspect of a smart home. There’s an almost endless list of things you can do with the right home automation tools — from growing a smart garden to keeping your pets entertained and fed.

Check out Arduino Project Hub for inspiration on projects you can build with Arduino’s tools, or visit our homepage for more information.

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Channel your inner Wolverine with these 3D-printed, muscle-controlled bionic claws

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In the fictional Marvel Universe, Wolverine has sets of claws that pop out of his hands as if they were natural parts of his body. While a seemingly fantastic concept, myoelectric sensors are able to pick up on muscle movements in order to illicit a response. YouTuber MERT Arduino & Tech decided to take this concept and build a pair of forearm-mounted claws.

The wearable device senses muscle activation via a MyoWare muscle sensor, which sends information on to an Arduino Nano on a custom carrier board. Depending on the signal, it’s able to extend or retract claws, with the help of a servo motor and linkage system.

The project looks like a lot of fun, and more information can be found in the video’s description below. It’s also not the first time we’ve seen some 3D-printed bionic claws — similar instructions are available in this Make: tutorial.

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This digital clock uses 24 Arduino-controlled analog faces

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After being inspired by a beautiful, if rather expensive timepiece, Ira Hart decided to make a 3D-printed clock with 24 analog faces that combine to form a single digital display. The overall device is controlled by a single Arduino Nano, which keeps track of the time using a RTC module. This unit coordinates 24 other Nanos on custom carrier boards, which in turn drive their own little clock face via a pair of steppers and a gear system.

When working together, these 24 clocks can tell the time in very large characters, and even show a variety of kinetic art as it changes from one minute to the next. It looks awesome in the video below, and build info is available in Hart’s project write-up.

Making a mini 360° LiDAR for $40

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LiDAR (or “light detection and ranging”) sensors are all the rage these days, from their potential uses in autonomous vehicles, to their implementation on the iPhone 12. As cool as they are, these (traditionally) spinning sensors tend to be quite expensive, well out of reach for most amateur experimenters. Daniel Hingston, however, has managed to build his own unit for under $40, using an Arduino Uno and a pair of VL53L0X time-of-flight (ToF) sensors.

The lighthouse employs a small gearmotor to rotate the two sensors on top of its cylindrical 3D-printed housing, passing signals to the Arduino via a slip ring. Data can then be visualized using a Processing sketch running on a nearby computer.

As seen at around the 10:00 mark in the video, the setup has been utilized to map out different test enclosures, and could be excellent for use in small robotic applications. More details can be found in Hingston’s tutorial here.

A fully-animated, Arduino-powered launchpad for the LEGO Saturn V model rocket

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Approximately 18 months ago, Mark Howe embarked on a journey to build an animatronic launchpad and gantry for a LEGO Saturn V model rocket. After approximately 1,000 hours of CAD work, hundreds of hours of 3D printing, and a major redesign, he’s created a truly impressive setup that resembles one of NASA’s.

Howe’s rocket and structure stand several feet tall, with a crane, sway bar, crew walkway, gantry arms, and service arms that move out of the way using servos. Everything is controlled by Arduino Uno, along with an MP3 shield to play the Apollo 11 countdown audio.

Once ready for liftoff, the rocket rises via a trio of stepper motor-driven linear actuators, simulating the real thing with a fiery plume of NeoPixels underneath.

More details on this dynamic diorama can be found on Howe’s project page.

3D-printed Super Mario star twinkles atop the tree

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Christmas trees normally have a star on top, and Super Mario famously becomes invincible when he grabs the star power-up. Naturally, for retro game enthusiasts, these two are begging to be united. 

In this project, Doug Lenz (AKA “Freshanator”) did just that by morphing the Mario star into something that can be placed atop a tree, using a 3D-printed body and addressable WS2812B LEDs to provide the “twinkles.”

The unit is printed in yellow PLA, with a pair of black eyes glued on. Inside, LEDs are arranged near the tip of each of the star’s five points, which diffuse through the printed material. Power is supplied by a Micro USB breakout, and the lighting is controlled via an Arduino Nano. The device runs on the “Fire2012” example program from the FastLED library, though Lenz may revisit its operation in the future.

Looking to take your holiday decor to the next level? More details on how to make your own can be found on Imgur, or you can purchase one from Etsy.