Critical medical equipment is needed to fight COVID-19 - MatterHackers is connecting you to the correct source

MatterHackers has created a hub that intends to connect those who need medical aid (Hospitals and Government Agencies) and those who can create it using Digital Manufacturing, for which MatterHackers has a broad base of customers to engage with.


On the days when you're stuck at home, it's not always easy to chase away cabin fever. Keeping everyone in the family entertained can be even harder. This is especially true for parents who now suddenly need to become homeschool teachers. Fortunately, those of us with a 3D printer have an endless supply of options to keep busy, but the number of possible things to print can make it surprisingly hard to choose. We've solved that dilemma and handpicked ten home education ideas and enjoyable projects for your whole family during those days you've hunkered down at home base.

Before you get started, if you or your family are just beginning with 3D printing or if you need a quick refresher, the first step is to familiarize yourself with the materials you’ll be using. Most of these projects can be printed with PLA, the most affordable and arguably easiest filament to work with. Take a look at our articles on How to Succeed When Printing with PLA and our Materials Comparison Guide, and you’ll be ready to jump into these printing projects!

Practice Designing with Tinkercad

Whether or not you have any experience with 3D modeling or even if you don’t yet own a 3D printer, Tinkercad is a fantastic place to begin. This program is a free and easy-to-use resource perfect for makers, students, and teachers that allows you to create your own designs from scratch. Reinforce your engineering, architecture, biology, mathematics and other lesson plans with a tactile visual aid. The versatility of functions available with this program make it both a great launching point for students and a convenient tool for educators and designers. Best of all, MatterHackers has a free 1-hour lesson plan and a tutorial video to guide you through the Tinkercad basics. 

Custom Cookie Cutters

Get creative in the kitchen with unique cookie cutters. Try one of these cute Unicorn or T-Rex Footprint designs or, for a tasty way to teach geometry, have kids create their own outlines and forms using MatterControl or Tinkercad. You can also take inspiration from our MatterControl stencils tutorial and tweak the positive image to make your own original cookie stamps. For the youngest learners in the family, simplify your designs to basic shapes and letters (Like these Alphabet cookie cutters) to bring elementary learning lessons into your baking class that can 3D print in under an hour. If you're going to be indoors all day, it may as well smell like cookies.

Designs by Phyntox, upperpeninsulaplastics, and hodoko / Images by Phyntox, upperpeninsulaplastics and mak3mehappy
Designs by Phyntox, upperpeninsulaplastics, and hodoko / Images by Phyntox, upperpeninsulaplastics and mak3mehappy

Create Your Own Cutting Board

Continuing the theme of home ec classes, this custom cutting board will make a great addition to any kitchen. We’ll be making use of a different method of fabrication for this woodworking project: subtractive manufacturing. Have your CNC machine, project wood, and dust control system ready, then follow along with the simple steps outlined in our guide. As with every project, but especially with a CNC router, make sure that children are supervised at all times while the machine is in use.

We took advantage of Inventables’ free web-based software, Easel, to create this project because of its handy pre-made cutting board shapes. Easel's introductory tutorial is also a great way to teach your family the basics of designing for subtractive manufacturing, which has its own considerations. Carbide Create is also another free alternative for makers with a Shapeoko 3 (Standard, XL, or XXL) at home who want to skip the steps of fussing with compatibility and exporting Easel’s Gcode.

3D Science Projects

A free sampling of the in-depth science models offered in the 3D Printed Science Projects book, these designs make learning potentially difficult concepts much more accessible for students. Whether it’s examples of fibonacci sequences found in nature, molecular compositions, or comet trajectories, these tactile models add a visual learning tool to elevate your in-home lesson plans. Additionally, they’ve been designed to be easy to print and need only a relatively small build area (5” x 6” x 5”). We strongly recommend adding these prints to your homeschool curriculum. You can find them at this link to the MatterHackers Digital Designs page.

3D Jointed Puppy Dog 

For any parent whose child has begged, "Can we please get a dog?" the answer is finally yes! ...Kind of. This poseable pup, a free model designed by Thingiverse user jazmy, is named Charlie. This design features articulated joints, prints in one single piece, and distracts your little ones long enough for them to forget they ever wanted a real dog in the first place.
We recommend this project for its ease-of-concept and early age appropriate entertainment. Expect about 4 hours from start to finish to print your new furry friend and a few extra minutes to remove supports. For even more fun, get the primer and paint kit ready to really bring your 3D printed pet to life.

Design and image by jazmy
Design and image by jazmy

Snap Together Da Vinci and Wind-Up Car Gift Cards

Designed originally as snazzy gift cards, there’s no reason why you can’t assemble and keep these Catapult and Wind-Up Car mechanical models all for yourself. Printed flat against the build plate, the parts to this deceptively simple card can be popped out and configured into surprisingly transformative, functional designs.

This project is a great way to bring experiential learning to any student's desktop. The pieces are capable of being snapped together, so no glue or other messy products will be necessary - all you need to add is a piece of string. We especially like the inspiration drawn from Leonardo da Vinci, and the fact that it can print as a single piece with no supports in just about three hours is a huge bonus. 

Design & image by Bribro12
Design & image by Bribro12

OpenRC Formula 1 Car

You may have seen this design before in our Summer Projects Collection. Just one of many excellent Daniel Norée Open-Source projects, the OpenRC F1 Car is the perfect advanced homework for the robotics enthusiast in the family, making it a great choice if you’re looking for a multi-day project. 

This design consists of several parts, all free to download online, and the ones most likely to take a hit in case of a crash are best printed in durable materials such as a carbon fiber-infused nylon, NylonX. Electronics and hardware can be purchased separately (Daniel has provided a list of those parts here) if you really want to make this car go. Best of all, we’ve made an easy-to-follow guideline to walk you through the build. Check out our step by step instructions at this link.

Original design by Daniel Norée
Original design by Daniel Noree

Micro Planter Chess Set

Bring the garden indoors with this Micro Planter Chess Set. A MyMiniFactory prize winner and custom design by XYZ Workshop, this project provides a mess-free way to enjoy nature from the comfort of your own couch while practicing one of the oldest strategy games in history. The board prints as a thin sheet that you can place on any flat surface to transform it into your play area.

We're big fans of this project for any students with a sharp mind and a green thumb. After a round of chess, keep those plants healthy and happy with the free MatterHackers-designed Earth Day Watering bulb.

Design and images by XYZ Workshop
Design and image by XYZ Workshop

Chili Pepper Maracas

Music class is in session! These fun and colorful musical instruments are a breeze to put together. One maraca consists of just two parts that you can print in four hours using PLA, ABS, or the material of your choice. Simply fill the pepper with beans, beads, or even snips from your discarded filament scraps to upcycle your spare plastic, then use superglue to secure the top to the base. These files are available to download for free on the MatterHackers Digital Designs page.

MatterHackers Hex Tile Project

Let your creativity run wild - make your own Hex Tile as part of the #MatterHackersHex Project. Simply start with the basic shape of a hexagon at 150mm in diameter, then customize it any way you want. We’ve seen prints of dice towers, multi-tile artwork, and funny pop culture references.

Give your tile an educational spin with a little extra customization - for example, you can create an elementary mathematics project by starting with a frame that can fit three tiles. Next, design the individual hex tiles themselves, each assigned with a number or an operation (multiplication, addition, etc.) which can be swapped in and out of the frame. Place whichever of the numbers and operations inside the frame you choose, and voila! You have a visual learning tool to practice any combination of algebra equations. 

To create your own tile, follow these easy steps outlined in our instructional guide. Not only is this a great way to practice 3D modeling and other educational concepts, MatterHackers is also accepting your Hex Tiles to display at our headquarters in Southern California. Click here for directions to send your Hex Tile to MatterHackers and get a $5 discount code to our store!

DNA/RNA Building Set 

Concepts as complex as the human genome can be pretty intimidating to young learners. Fortunately, 3D printed models such as this DNA/RNA toy set can help break down the barriers to understanding the structures of our DNA. Each block represents a nucleotide with a letter indicating its base: Thymine (T) or Uracil (U), Cytosine (C), Adenine (A), and Guanine (G).

The pronged shapes and inserts at the top of each block representing hydrogen bond donors and acceptors intuitively help students comprehend the chemistry of compatible base pairing.  This printing project is an excellent way to incorporate tangible learning tools in your science lessons. 

Original design by chemteacher628, remixed by JC_Workshop / Image by JC_Workshop
Original design by chemteacher628, remixed by JC_Workshop / Image by JC_Workshop

Nintendo Switch Arcade Cabinet

When all the homework is done and it’s time to have fun, this game stand designed for the Nintendo Switch brings the excitement of the arcade straight to your living room. Created by Kirby Downey, this model provides the perfect opportunity to pull out those fun PLA colors you’ve been waiting to use. Assembly consists of only a few parts, but they’re large and will take several hours to print; expect this to be a 1 or 2-day project. As they say, good things take time.
Download the files to Kirby's design here.
Design by Kirby Downey / Images by Kirby Downey and Garreth Brand
Design by Kirby Downey / Images by Kirby Downey and Garreth Brand

Bonus Project for Pets

Prevent boredom and destructive behaviors by stimulating your pet’s mind. Treat toys challenge pets to use their brains and problem solve their way to a tasty reward. What better way to keep your cat or dog occupied while you work from home? Originally designed by kpimmel and then refined by hroncok, this D20 themed treat toy available for free on Thingiverse is a critical success. Consider using a sturdier material like PETG, Nylon, or ABS if your pet tends to play rough. 

Design by kpimmel and hroncok / Image by mathgrrl
Design by kpimmel and hroncok / Image by mathgrrl

Need more inspiration?

Check out these 3D Printing project books to learn and practice STEAM-related 3D printing education at home.

For even more in-depth lesson planning ideas to bring 3D Printing to your home classroom, we suggest adding the Printlab Classroom to your curriculum. A 12-month subscription will give you access to a huge amount of resources, including professional development, downloadable student workbooks, and a library of lesson plans that are frequently updated. Try our promotional 7-day free trial of PrintLab

available at this link.

To our customers, fans, colleagues, and friends:

We know that this can be a stressful time for families, and we take our role to support our maker community very seriously. MatterHackers is dedicated to helping you find ways that 3D printing can improve your daily life and to supporting you on your digital manufacturing journey. We are continuing to ship orders, and our support lines will remain open, so please reach out to if you have any questions or are interested in learning more about how to bring 3D printing into your home.