This time I'm just going to straight-up link to MAKE because they compiled a list of the best 3D printed items of 2012:
and I think they made a lot of good choices.
Although honestly I think the list kind of begins and ends with Crania Anatomica, the 3D printed sculpture that kicks barrels of ass.
Also of note are the assorted Strandbeests for sale via Shapeways:
Although I guess these mini versions are not Theo Jensen's actual Strandbeests - which are huge - and are rather called Animaris Geneticus. There's also a wind-power attachment, also 3D printed, also for sale. Then they move on their own and it's all the more unsettling. I don't know if these were developed in 2012 or not but for the sake of mentioning cool shit I'll put them in here anyhow.
This fella's fully articulated and less than $100!
I think it's also worth noting that 3D printing has progressed to the point where the wackiest fucking shoes imaginable are now a sobering reality:
Continuum fashion started producing these in 2012 (probably) and while I can't comment on their practicality, durability or wear-ability I can say for sure that they are 3D printed items of note. From 2012. Continuum are not the only ones making 3D printed women's shoes so this is a great time to be alive for fashionistas and foot-fetishists alike.
Symbolically, the best 3D printed thing from 2012 was probably this pair of scissors:
It's not 'cause they're a new paradigm in scissor production or technology. In fact I think it's very unlikely that they could do that thing where you cut a penny in half... which is not a great demonstration of scissoring but more of a way to sell crappy all-purpose shears.
At this point, please take some time to picture some other great demonstrations of scissoring you may have seen.
These scissors are important because they were printed to cut the ribbon at the new Shapeways factory in New York, which could technically usher in a new era of 3D printed goods being brought to the masses:
Lots of other exciting 3D printed crap on that table too. Oh hey, here's a quote from Shapeways:
"We tested the scissors on paper, napkins, hair and cardboard so that we were satisfied we would not be embarrassed on the day with non-cutting scissors."There you have it. Fully functional scissors that worked in a purely ceremonial scissor cuting ceremony.
The upshot of all of this is that 3D printing seems to be blowing up and there's a lot of innovative products out there. Personally I favor the ones that seem more like art and less like exercises in math and tiling forms with polygons. But there's rooms for polygons in the world too!
For me, I think a 3D printer would mostly gather dust. I'm not very good at measuring so printing up a replacement part for the dishwasher would be out of the question. I don't know enough about 3D design software so I'm fairly certain I wouldn't be creating anything on the scale of Crania Anatomica.
But who knows! At the rate things are going, the price of an in-home 3D printer should hit zero dollars in another 20 or so years. When that happens, there's no limit to the number of tops, dreidels and six-sided dice I'll be able to make.