What are 3D Printers Used For?

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Updated February 3, 2023

If you are new to the world of physical printing, you may wonder what are 3D printers used for. Some of the best printers, after all, are 3D printers that heat resin or filament and push it through extrusion nozzles to build objects on print beds. These versatile machines find many uses throughout various industries and hobbies, from gadget prototypes to indie toy-making. So what can they be used for? Keep reading to find out.


  • These printers are steadily increasing in popularity due to the advancement of 3D printing technologies.
  • Rapid prototyping is an excellent use of any printer, as this is the original intent when these appliances were invented.
  • Other uses include making 3D objects and 3D models from digital files, building home goods, and creating tools and storage items.

Before learning about common uses for 3D printers, though, it helps to learn exactly what 3D printing is and how it works. For example, there’s a difference between resin printers and filament printers, if you are wondering what is resin 3D printing. These printers are available in a variety of designs, each with preferred use case scenarios if you are wondering what is FDM 3D printing.

Insider Tip

A great quick and easy first print for beginners is a simple smartphone case, as it should only take around an hour.

Common Uses for 3D Printers

Modern 3D printers are extremely popular across huge swaths of the population, so there are plenty of common uses.

Rapid Prototyping

The reason these printers exist in the first place is for rapid prototyping. Manufacturers and designers have been using printers for decades for just this purpose. Sending a prototype design to an in-house printer rather than to a distant manufacturer is much faster, allowing designers to make adjustments on the fly. The same goes for home use if you are prototyping designs to sell on Etsy and the like.

Making Storage Items

You can’t make a laptop with a printer, but you can make a laptop holder. The same goes for smartphone cases, key holders, and just about any other storage item you can imagine, so long as it is small enough to be built on the print bed.

Creating Toys and Figures

One of the main reasons these printers have caught on with the general populace is that they are really great for making unique toys, action figures, and models. This allows the natural creativity of users to shine through, particularly when combined with template design documents and the like.

STAT: Studies have found that connecting with a creative hobby can help reduce anxiety, depression, and stress, as well as increase overall feelings of positivity and happiness. (source)

Building Home Goods and Tools

Need a new screwdriver or can opener? Break out that printer. Modern machines excel at making a wide variety of home goods, from wrenches to coffee makers and back again.

3D Printer Uses FAQs

Is 3D printing even printing?

The 3D printing industry actually uses something called additive manufacturing, meaning it is created layer by layer, having nothing to do with UV lights. This manufacturing process creates three-dimensional objects from a variety of materials.

What are the benefits of 3D printing?

There are many benefits to getting involved with additive manufacturing and the 3D printing industry, such as the ability to use 3D printing materials to create physical objects.

What can 3D printers make?

Depending on the type of printing technology, printers can make all kinds of things. Direct metal laser sintering printers are great for rapid prototyping, as are selective laser sintering printers and any printer that uses metal powder as a raw material.
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