#D-printed Windup toy.3D-printed Windup toy, Design downloaded from Thingiverse.The 3D printing technology has come a long way in the recent years. Anyone can now get a decent desktop printer for a few hundred dollars, for printing all kinds of useful and useless stuff out of plastic.

You can easily draw up simple designs, and print them out in no time. Or if you have the skills, or are willing to go through a high learning curve, you can create some quite fancy stuff. Or just download ready-made designs off the internet, for free or for a charge, and print them out on your printer.

The most common plastic material for 3D printing is PLA, which is easy to print, and the finish is smooth and good-looking. The drawback with PLA is that it doesn't have the same strength as other filaments, such as ABS and PETG. You would use those materials for objects that need to be strong. But they can be more difficult to print, and usually need more tweaking. But once the printer is tuned in properly for those materials, they will print out ok too.

Here are just a few examples how I have been using my 3D printer.

The image on the top is a "useless", but cool. wind-up toy car, that I downloaded from the Thingiverse web site, just for fun :).

A few years ago, during the Christmas holidays, our washing machine broke. Some plastic parts had worn out. Someone had made designs of those same parts, and uploaded them to thingiverse. I downloaded the design, printed out the parts, and the washing machine was up and running again, a few hours after it broke down!

3D printed bridge3D printed bridgeI have been printing a lot of stuff for my model railroad. For example, I designed this bridge from scratch. It took many, many hours to print. Due to the size, it is printed in sections, and was assembled like a kit.

Then there is this holder for my backup SSD drive. I wanted it to stand up vertically, so I quickly designed a holder, using the Sketchup design software, and printed the holder, without spending too much time in the whole process.
Seagate Backup drive holderSeagate Backup drive holderI will have a dedicated section for 3D printing, here on the Northwest Sisu Garage website, featuring some of my 3D printing projects. Please check back often for my latest 3D projects, and if you have any questions or comments, please post in the comment section below!