Media & Techniques

4 Easy 3D Printer Projects for Beginners

clay stamp

One of the exciting things about the artmaking process is that your students can bring their ideas to life. There’s no greater way to explore this concept than by using a 3D printer. Setting up your 3D printer takes some time, but the payoff is enormous. After you’re up and running, you might wonder what to have your students make. It is possible to start out too complicated. I’ve certainly made this mistake and learned to tone it down until my students understand the basics.

Here are 4 easy projects your students can try using a 3D printer.

1. Clay Stamps

clay stamp

One exciting thing about 3D printing is being able to use the objects you create. Creating texture tools, like stamps, to use with clay is a fun project for students. It allows them to experiment with the functionality of an object. They can learn which designs work best through trial and error.

If you create an account with the program Tinkercad, you’ll be able to log in and see a lesson that will help get students get started with designing a stamp.

2. Name Design

name design

It can take time for students to familiarize themselves with the concepts of designing in three dimensions. Creating a basic name design with connecting letters is a simple first project. This activity will allow your students to get to know the program you plan to use while exploring fundamental design concepts.

Again, if you’ve made an account and would like to see the project in Tinkercad, you can head here. Regardless of the program you use, this project will enable students to focus on size, depth, and connecting letters. Students can turn their finished designs into name tags or keychains.

3. Functional Inventions

glasses holder

A fascinating thing about 3D printing is the opportunity it creates to challenge and push your students’ creativity. In this lesson, students will explore 3D design on a deeper level as they are challenged to create a functional object that doesn’t already exist in that form. This is a wonderful opportunity to explore form vs. function. Design thinking and problem-solving will play a huge part in this lesson as students create with the mentality of an engineer or architect. You can download a full version of this lesson plan right here.

4. 3D Work Inspired by 2D Work

2D to 3D

Students often can’t wait to bring their inventions to life. But, what’s even more amazing is when they bring a drawing or 2D digital image to life. This is a simple, yet rewarding process for students. By taking a photo of a drawing, students can import it into an editing platform like Photoshop. Before the object can be printed, it must be converted to an SVG file which can be done in Illustrator. From here, students can import the file into the 3D design program with which they are familiar.

Using a 3D printer can be intimidating. One of the best things about the process is learning alongside your students. Together, you can explore the fascinating world of 3D design!

What additional questions do you have about using a 3D printer in your art room?

What are your favorite 3D printing projects?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Abby Schukei

Abby Schukei, a middle school art educator and AOEU’s Social Media Manager, is a former AOEU Writer. She focuses on creating meaningful experiences for her students through technology integration, innovation, and creativity.

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