What Not To Do With 3D Printer

January 21, 2023 10:24 am6 commentsViews: 78

When you first get a 3D printer, you might find the possibilities overwhelming. You can print anything! Anything at all!

But wait. There are some things we’d recommend resisting the temptation to render:

Pound coins

It’s illegal to duplicate coins of the realm, even in ABS plastic. So don’t try to print your own money, unless you fancy some time behind bars.

Mickey Mouse

Disney are very protective of their trademarks, and although in theory Mickey is due to come out of copyright soon, you really don’t want to be part of the test case when this very litigious company decides to prove otherwise.

Religious likenesses

No. Just don’t. Whatever you do, you’ll upset someone, somewhere. It’s not worth it.

Albert Einstein

Yes, he’s dead, but the Hebrew University still asserts rights over any images of him, and sends legal nastygrams to anyone who dares to use his likeness on t-shirts or coffee mugs. It’s a highly questionable claim, but lawyers cost money, and it’s just more hassle than it’s worth.

Replica firearms

Fancy a Colt 45 or Glock to hang over the mantelpiece? Sorry, unless you’re a regular paintballer on an insured site, or a historical re-enactor, or a filmmaker, or a museum, it’s illegal in the UK to own and manufacture realistic weapons. The only way you can get away with it is if the replica weapon in question is at least 50% bright green, blue, red, pink, yellow, purple, or transparent.

Replacement body parts

Even if you really can’t face the dentist, printing your own teeth is a bad idea. As is creating any other replica body part – using ABS plastic to replace living tissue has implications, none of which are good.

Olympic memorabilia

The Olympic logo, no matter what you think about it aesthetically, is covered by strict copyright, as is any mention of the Olympics. So don’t render anything to do with the Games, or Lord Coe will be round with the UK boxing team to sort you out.

Steve Jobs

Apple is very protective of its ex-CEO, and recently got a figure out him withdrawn by the maker. It’s also best to avoid anything with the Apple logo on it, even if it isn’t a new iPhone case.


Or dummies, as we call them in the UK. The ones for sale are designed to be safe – both the shape and the materials they’re made of have been carefully considered and tested. Stick to those.

Bank cards

If your card’s been damaged, you could try printing a new one – but the chip ‘n’ pin electronics aren’t easily replicable, and neither is the magnetic strip, and you’re likely to get a funny look (at the very least) if you produce a homemade card in a shop. Best to contact your bank to get a replacement.
What other things are there that would be really, really bad ideas to create on your 3D printer?


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