A member of our hackspace wants to get their 8- and 11- year old kids1 excited about 3D-printing and CNC cutting and makering in general. We have a weekly open training where people can design and print/CNC/laser an item of their choice like a dogboned box or a two-piece sword and hilt, or a name tag, or whatever. I need a few ideas prepared so we don't spend half our lesson on Thingiverse or in Fusion (more like a quarter)! I'm not a parent and my youngest friend is probably in their twenties.

What we have:

  • a full bed 1200x1800 mm CNC (preferred, because it's loud and fast)
  • Prusa mk3
  • cheapo 80W 500x300 mm laser
  • Fusion 360 based workflow, easy :)
  • Arduinos and stuff

Ideas we've had: a minecraft creeper, done as a simple-ish box.

1: the (girls) are not interested in my normal kids' goto, which is: swords, shields. They are interested in: minecraft, dragons, horses. _o_/

edit: this is NOT an opinion-gathering post, though there may be more than one "correct" answer. We need specific applications of 3d printing for a young audience. This collection of answers will be useful to evangelize making to a whole new generation!

  • $\begingroup$ Hot network question! :-) $\endgroup$
    – Greenonline
    Jul 9, 2018 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ court3nay, can you reword it, so that it isn't such a shopping question? And not so opinion based (somehow)? I don't know if that is possible. Also, maybe, remove the "I know that this is an opinion based question" as that is the kiss of death, TBH. $\endgroup$
    – Greenonline
    Jul 9, 2018 at 15:49
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    $\begingroup$ This question is in the idea nice, but it is also a can of worms in others: it is open ended, as the limits are very open, unless making it very general. There is no way there is a best answer for this, making it opinion based. And finally: the last sentence makes it an idea grab. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Jul 10, 2018 at 10:15
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    $\begingroup$ it's too late! you can ban it, but I got some great answers before you did :) Sometimes you have to let a question slide against the "rules" because it's in fact in direct synchrony with the mission, which is applications of 3d printing. It is in fact highly specific and there are in fact best answers. Just look! $\endgroup$
    – court3nay
    Jul 10, 2018 at 10:32
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    $\begingroup$ update: the girls made nameplates/name-tags with animals they had just drawn (inkscape) on the laser cutter. $\endgroup$
    – court3nay
    Jul 12, 2018 at 12:37

3 Answers 3


This question is unfortunately, not a good fit for this site, as it stands, for as you say it is opinion based. However, it is great to see that you are getting kids into a relatively new technology (yes, I know it has been around for years, but it is still seen as new to big media and the general public).

My answer doesn't provide you with any actual designs, as you asked for. However, just to add an idea or two that I have been thinking about recently, in order to engage kids:

  • Have you thought about using 3D printing pens (as side projects to the main feature of the printer)? Although I'm not so sure that the fumes at such close proximity would be that great, unless using PLA. That really would show close up the additive process.

  • Also, there is a lot of useful sites to be found on google (which you have probably seen), such as:

  • Alternative applications for kids, from Best CAD Software for Kid Creators, that might be worth considering if Fusion 360 doesn't float their Benchy boat:

  • Maybe, as all kids seem to have iPhones, or what have you, these days, how about an App for kids upon which they can play with a design, and then print it later? Such an app would probably provide examples for them to get started with. One such app is the Toy Maker by AstroPrint - although that may require a commercial printer, I'm not sure. However, other such apps for smart phones probably are out there.

As for examples, there are 42 kids toys tagged on Thingiverse, such as:

Grand Hillar

Also to take from IronEagle's idea, some fidget spinners:

  • $\begingroup$ you say it "isn't a fit for this site", but here you are with a bunch of good designs AND anyone in future looking here for "kids" will get a bunch of answers that I'd say are all factual and definitive. Good stuff! :) $\endgroup$
    – court3nay
    Jul 12, 2018 at 12:38

As @fred_dot_u mentioned above, keychains are a simple, personalized item to make. In terms of interesting projects, things that I found intriguing when I first encountered 3D printing were objects that could not be made by other means, such as those "geared bearings" (Google: geared bearings 3d print). Given the popularity of figet spinners a while back, they could be an interesting item.

A captive ball in a box, or three joined rings, can also be set up as a 3D print, and could have the same effect, while being easier for the kids to design.

EDIT: Some links to versions of items along the above lines. Thingiverse tends to slowly break links, though, so these might not last:

  • $\begingroup$ Why the downvote? OP asked for ideas for objects to make, not software to make it with. They already mentioned they have a good workflow based on Fusion 360. $\endgroup$
    – IronEagle
    Jul 9, 2018 at 14:50
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure, maybe because you suggested geared bearings and not dragons and horses? Although, obviously, I can't see what's wrong with girls printing gears, personally, it is something that should be encouraged. Maybe if you could provide some direct links to gears and spinners on Thingiverse, that might garner you some upvotes? Here's a +1 as encouragement :-) $\endgroup$
    – Greenonline
    Jul 9, 2018 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ thankyou, I didn't downvote you, but the kid would say: what's a gear /bearing? maybe kids like things that are more obvious, like: a fidget spinner or something with a gear in it? $\endgroup$
    – court3nay
    Jul 10, 2018 at 10:34

Our local library makerspace holds summer camp for a limited number of lucky attendees, ages from 12-15 and the curriculum has a segment which appears to match your objective.

In the case of the Launch Pad Camp, the campers will be using OnShape to create a keychain/nametag with text of their choosing. It will be an unremarkable 3mm thick x 35-40 mm wide x 70-80 mm long "plank" with a depressed center (by 1.5mm) and raised text. The mentors of the camp expect to be able to teach these campers how to use the software to perform tasks by rote. I assisted the mentor in the process as she had no idea how to use OnShape. Neither did I, but that never slows me down.

Another aspect of her camp is that it will (or may) include using Scratch

scratch screencap

and does include using a Scratch based program called Ozoblocky to interface with Ozobots.

ozoblocky screencap

I suggested to her that she could use BlockSCAD to create the 3D objects, as the interface is nearly identical, and in my opinion, very easy to use.

Not surprisingly, BlockSCAD has a series of tutorials available on the YouTube.

The editor for BlockSCAD is browser based removing the requirement to install on every computer.

blockscad editor image


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