2021 may not have been the year we were hoping for, unless you’re talking about amazing models to 3d print. Designers wowed us every month, sometimes riding a pop culture wave and other times causing them.
This is a list of the most fun new models we’ve printed throughout 2021, and had to share on social media. Enjoy.
Please note that unless otherwise specified, all printing times are based on Cura 4.12.1, using a standard profile with a .2mm layer height, 50mm print speed, on a Creality Ender 3 Pro which sits at the top of our list of best 3D printers. Your results may vary.
Bundled Up Bernie
The first hot print of 2021, Bundled Up Bernie was inspired by a meme of Senator Sanders attending the Presidential Inauguration in a drab puffy coat and huge warm mittens. 3D printers joined the fun, adding thousands of tiny plastic Bernies to gardens, bookshelves and printer gantries everywhere.
Download: Bundled Up Bernie
Estimated Print Time: 3 Hours and 21 Minutes
Filament: American Filament Metallic Gray AF and Ziro Silky Bronze
Friendly Articulated Slug
This adorable little slug started as an inside joke and catapulted to internet fame as it squiggled its way into the hearts of makers everywhere. The slug is made of interlocking joints with delicate walls and requires a squeaky-clean, level bed to print well. It doesn’t require supports and pops off the bed fully assembled.
It has amazing flexibility and can twist into a complete circle. YouTubers and Etsy sellers have delighted in printing this slug big, small, rainbow and resin. When Marsgizmo featured it on a YouTube Short, he raked in 58 million views!
The photograph above shows the slug at 100% in Jessie Industrial Runoff Glitter and at 350% in Jessie Tree Green. The larger slug took a Creality CR10s 2 Days, 18 hours and 11 Minutes to print.
Download: Friendly Articulated Slug
Estimated Print Time: 2 Hours and 58 Minutes
Filament: Jessie Industrial Runoff Glitter and Jessie Tree Green
The Rock craze must be one of the most inexplicable viral trends to hit the 3D printing community. It started on TikTok when @Union3DPrinting slapped Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s head on a cute flexi Octopus and called it the Rocktopus.
His fans went crazy, and soon he and others were putting The Rock’s noggin on everything from Crocs (Rock Crocs) to broccoli (bROCKoli).
The craze hit warp speed when Dwayne Johnson himself recorded a Duet with Ben Pendergast (@itsboyinspace) admiring his face as Dwiamonds on an Infinity Gauntlet.
Download: The Rocktopus
Estimated Print Time: 4 Hours and 23 Minutes
Filament: Inland Silk Silver
WallStreetBets Diamond Hands
To the Moon! Inspired by Reddit day traders who made headlines using slang like Stonks and Diamond Hands, this print captured the feel good vibes of the new year. The free model got thousands of downloads and dozens of copycats, while flooding Esty Shops and YouTube videos everywhere.
Download: WallStreetBets Diamond Hands
Estimated Print Time: 4 Hours and 37 Minutes
Filament: Polaroid Transparent Blue and Jessie Golden Winner Glitter
Mini Puft Man
Everyone wanted a 3D printed army of animated marshmallows after spotting a baby Stay Puft Man in the Ghostbusters: Afterlife trailer. Baby Pufts were such a phenomenon that at least three well known designers released versions simultaneously: ChaosCoreTech, Hex3d and Wekster.
Download: Mini-Puft Man
Estimated Print Time: 2 Hours and 31 Minutes
Filament: Inland Lite PLA White
One of the most popular Thingiverse downloads of 2021 was the TicTac Gun, a tasty launcher of candy pellets. The original model safely lobbed candy into your mouth, but it was soon remixed to hurl candy across the room. Joel Telling, the 3D Printing Nerd, promptly upsized it 350% in an attempt to launch cheese puffs on his YouTube channel.
Download: TicTac Gun 2
Estimated Print Time: 9 Hours
Filament: IC3D Yellow and Inland Orange
Benchy Floating Wave Stand
Tensegrity tables are optical illusions that appear to float on chains or invisible fishing lines. Natalie, the 3D Print Bunny, has been experimenting with completely 3D printed structures that amaze the internet. She’s printed tables that could hold a soda can, a person, or just decorate your hall for Halloween. My favorite is this wave-shaped Benchy stand.
Download: Benchy Floating Wave Stand
Estimated Print Time: 8 Hours and 14 Minutes
Filament: Inland True Red and Polaroid Transparent Blue
We watched a lot of streaming shows this year, didn’t we? Alligator Loki, a variant of Tom Hiddleston’s Marvel character from another dimension, really caught our eye on Disney+. Soon everyone was printing crown wearing reptiles made available by several online designers.
Check out this life-size Loki Gator, printed on a CR30 by James Bricknell and displayed in his backyard wading pool for TikTok.
You’ll need to join Patreon to get your hands on this amazing print. Wekster, ChaosCoreTech and Hex3D all have versions – or should we say Variants – for their supporters.
Download: Chaos Core Tech Patreon
Estimated Print Time: 10 Hours and 36 Minutes
Filament: Jessie Ice Green and Jessie Golden Winner Glitter
Unicorn of Darkness
Twitter went crazy for Loubie’s series of highly-detailed equine models. The collection ran from noble unicorn to evil dragon horse and stress tested our printers for days on end.
Loubie’s models are best printed with resin where they don’t require supports.
She’s separated horns and wings for easier printing on FDM machines and included color breakdowns for MMU printers.
This print depicts a unicorn’s evil twin, an undead unicorn. The model photographed above was printed at 75% and took 10 hours and 50 Minutes.
Download: Unicorn of Darkness
Estimated Print Time: 18 hours and 52 Minutes
Filament: Inland True Red
The Torture Toaster!
Not to be confused with a quick test print, the Torture Toaster is an extremely thorough calibration print that will push your skills to the max. Clockspring is a masterful designer who specializes in print in place hinges and functional gears. When challenged by YouTuber Edge of Tech to design a wicked crazy calibration print, he cooked up the toaster.
The Toaster has fold out flaps, gears, tolerance gauges, overhangs and print in place toast that actually pops up.
Download: The Torture Toaster!
Estimated Print Time: 18 Hours and 58 Minutes
Filament: Protopasta Joel’s Highfive Blue
The ultimate flexible toy is this year’s wildest print: the Articulated Dragon. The wingless dragon can wrap around your arm or be coiled in a ball. We printed it on an Ender 3 Pro, but it was small enough to fit on the compact bed of a Prusa Mini. However, when popped off the bed, it stretches out to 45 cm long from tail to snout.
It prints without supports and only needs a clean level bed for success. The print has been spotted all over social media and has well over 22,000 downloads on Cults.
Download: Articulated Dragon
Estimated Print Time: 17 Hours and 1 Minute
Filament: Matterhackers Quantum Blue Green
Fractal Fidget Star
You might think the Spaghetti Detective’s TikTok would be full of epic fails their OctoPrint app could prevent. Instead Kenneth Jiang, the app’s designer, uses TikTok to show off amazing and complex prints.
One of their most popular videos shows Kenneth’s grandmother enjoying a fidget toy they 3D printed. The Fractal Fidget Star has been printed in multiple colors and sizes, and every time it appears they get hundreds of thousands of views.
Download: Fractal Fidget Star
Estimated Print Time: 10 Hours and 1 Minute
Filament: Cookiecad Mermaid Blue
Squid Game was another streaming show we only stopped watching long enough to set up a print of its creepy yet fascinating characters. We printed action figures, masks, fake cookies and even that giant creepy doll from the Red Light, Green Light game.
My favorite is Wekster’s Squid Game Soldier mini dude.
Download: Squid Game Mini Dude
Estimated Print Time: 2 Hours and 10 Minutes
Filament: Protopasta Candy Apple Red Metallic