I just received my first ever 3D printed object from Shapeways, a CentripetalBox. Shapeways provide a cheap and simple way to 3D print anything you can imagine in a variety of materials, including ABS (like Lego), stainless steel and even color printed 3D objects. This is the first time I have 3D printed anything, so I was quite excited, but at the same time expecting a designflaw showing up in the finished product.
The design I got printed was a CentripetalBox, a cube which needs to be spun around quickly to be opened. You can see a video of how it works below. The original design had 4 plugs which would fit inside the 4 slots in the box and lid, but due to the inaccuracy of the printing process, the plugs where slightly too big. The lid was also a bit too big, and needed to be sanded down slightly to fit inside the box. This was expected, but what was not expected was how tough the material was. I printed in White, Strong and Flexible, and while the surface is quite rough and seems fragile (small particles of the raw material powder will come loose if you scratch it), the actual box is pretty solid. I tried sanding down the plugs so they would fit inside the slots, but quickly moved to a file instead. A Dremel might have been a good tool to have handy. Instead of using the printed plastic plugs I used a thin steel rod cut into plugs. It might even be that the plastic plugs are too light to work. A few more days of sanding/filing, and I'll know.
Having discussed the end result and design with my dad, we came up with some improvements. I'll make a new version for the Shapeways shop with those improvements (and bug fixes, like smaller plugs, and a tiny gap between the lid and the box). This is the first thing I have ever made in Blender and then 3D printed, and the fact that it works (with a bit of post-production work) is more than I expected. I have a few other ideas for 3D printing, and I'll work on them this spring (or autumn, if you are in Australia).