While I enjoy testing prints and techniques that push the bounds of my machines, there’s a certain level of satisfaction in how well 3D printers can simply…make things. Especially familiar things. Whether I just want an uncomplicated yet unique rosette, a structurally sound corbel, or a complex ceiling medallion, it’s faster and cheaper to iterate using a 3D printer – not to mention less of a mess. Once I have the final design haphazardly balanced in place, I can decide to have it milled from wood, or be lazy and just paint and secure the print.
3D printing isn’t always the best solution to every problem, and that’s OK. Trying to print a replacement part that is inexpensive and widely available can be fun, but generally takes more time and effort than it’s worth. 3D printers have always shone brightest when rapid prototyping is needed – which is just a fancy way of saying the first attempts are expected to fail. A lot. And when I attempt home improvement projects for the first time, I tend to fail. A lot. Using my 3D printers makes those failures a little less painful. Is it a traditional solution that my local historical society would likely approve of? Probably not. Does it accomplish the goal of letting me add personal touches and hidden geeky Easter eggs to my house, without feeling like I need to invest in lumber stocks? Unfortunately for the next owner, yes, yes it does.