The Most Useful Thing...

There are quite a few standard questions you get asked when people find out you do 3D printing.  The most frequent is probably "Could you 3D print a gun?"  (The answer is yes, of course you can, but the follow up is no, I have no interest in doing so.)  I think the second most common is, "Did you see the video about that guy who built the massive 3D printer and made a cement castle for his daughters?"  Yes.  I did see that video.  That guy's cool.  And he built his own ginormous 3D printer which extrudes cement.  I successfully assembled a daybed from IKEA on the first try, so I'd say we're even.

One of the most insightful questions I get asked is, "What's the most useful thing you'd 3D printed?"  That's a good question.  It's really fun printing models of D&D creatures, jungle gyms for my praying mantises, or a new emblem for the front of my Canyonero, but useful -- that's getting into territory which makes the printer more than a toy.

I can think of a few truly useful things I've printed.  The E*nable hands come to mind, of course.  For someone without a hand, a 3D printed hand is pretty, well, handy.  Lego Minecraft daylight sensors and redstone lanterns. They're mostly d├ęcor, but do serve a purpose and were good practice for more complex electronics projects.  Business card boxes, playing card boxes, and special occasion heart boxes, all very practical. 

But here's the object that gets everyday use.  Every single day.  Almost 24/7, as a matter of fact: the glow in the dark robe hook. 

It's one of the very first things I modeled myself.  If you're thinking that the rudimentary shape was a product of being new to 3D modeling and that I've gotten better over time, you're half right.  I'm no better at elegant visual design now than I was four years ago, nor thirty years ago, for that matter.  Apparently graphic art is not a skill that just develops naturally with age.  But that's ok, because this hook has function.  Two functions, in fact.  It holds my bathrobe conveniently close to my bed, and it glows in the dark.  Enough of the hook shows that I can find my robe in the middle of the night, and I can easily hang it back up again without turning on a lamp. 

And there you have it.  I've capitalized on decades of electronic development by producing a hook upon which I can hang my clothing and locate it in the dark.  You're welcome, Technology.