These days 3D printing is all the rage: cars are being printed, inexpensive prosthetics are being produced, complex surgeries are being completed with the help of 3D printing, and so much more. Companies are producing low cost consumer printers, RepRap printers are becoming fairly easy to build, and in general it isn't to difficult to get your hands on a 3D printer. However, the average person is probably still wondering, “What would I actually use a 3D printer for?”

This series will show everyday uses for 3D printers. Many of these projects will seem small and insignificant, but that’s the point! There are lots of little things that having a 3D printer can help you do; you’ll never run out of small projects to complete with your 3D printer.

First up is a set of plugs for an antique bathtub that had two unused holes for taps.

The bathtub before

As you can see, the holes are rather unsightly, not to mention the fact that water can leak through them. As a temporary fix, the holes were covered with tape, but obviously that doesn’t look a lot better, and it won’t last forever. The solution: 3D print a set of plugs!

This is a simple plug that I designed to fit in the existing holes and cover some of the surrounding area on the tub that is stained. It was a straight-forward print requiring no support material or clean up. It is threaded and is held on by a 3D printed flange nut. This was one of the first threaded items we 3D printed, and we were very impressed with how well the threads worked. Installation of the plugs was easy; just put some silicone around the hole in the tub, then tighten the plug into the hole.

With the plugs installed, there is no longer a risk of water escaping out of the holes, and the ugly rust and stains are completely covered. It looks great!

As I said earlier, this is nothing revolutionary, but it goes to show how useful having a 3D printer is. It may have been possible to buy a similar plug, but it likely wouldn’t have fit perfectly and certainly would have cost more. This set of plugs cost about a dollar, and was quick to design and install.