Three 3D printing designs that push the envelope

These prize-winning inventions show just what 3D printing is capable of.

If there's one field in the world of design that's moving at breakneck pace, it's 3D printing. Not only are 3D printers now readily affordable, but the range of products you can create with them grows daily.

For those wishing to exploit their design skills to create saleable 3D-printed products, CGTrader is a great resource of information and ideas. And the winners of their latest competition shows just how far 3D designers have come with the technology.

Co-sponsored by 3D World magazine, CGTrader's 3D Makers Challenge involved submitting 3D printed designs with the wow factor – namely: "anything that involves engineering, building, creating, constructing, has that crazy vibe of invention and innovation and consists of at least three components". Here are the winning entries... but could you do better?

01. 3D-printable gearbox

A working gearbox from a 3D printer

The winner of the Best 3D Maker/DIY Model category was Freekd with his 3D printable gearbox model – a fully engineered example of a 3D printable machine part.

A few additional metal parts are needed for construction

The gearbox was designed using Autodesk Inventor. As with all the models shown her, the files can be downloaded from CG Trader, along with details of a few additional metal parts you need to construct it.

02. 3D-printable water tap

This water tap is aimed at the developing world

Robitkar came in 2nd in the competition with a universal 3D print water tap model, designed with the undeveloped areas of the world in mind.

The design is purposely simple

A universal water tap, for five different holes, it's purposely a simple design with few parts.

03. Scissor snake

This toy is fun for kids of all ages

Second runner-up was Richard Swika with a fun 3D printable model – The Scissor Snake.

A specially engineered crossover bearing boosts its strength and durability

The design uses an exclusive, support-less crossover bearing, engineered for this project. This results in a strong and durable toy cable of lifting many times its own weight.

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Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design and technology. He was previously associate editor at Creative Bloq and deputy editor at net magazine, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers. Over two decades in journalism he’s worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella. Follow him on Twitter @tom_may.