12 Beautiful 3D Printer Fails

3D Printing & Imaging Workshop

3D printers have been a boon for rapid prototyping, but they’re not without their foibles. Whether it’s a faulty extruder, the piece sliding off the bed, a slipping belt, or any number of other errors, one might walk away from a print that’s begun and come back later to find something he/she had not expected.

Luckily, sometimes these 3D printer fails can come out looking quite interesting. Here are 12 3D printer fails that went right past bad and back to good again. If you’ve had similar experiences, please share them in the comments section.


86 thoughts on “12 Beautiful 3D Printer Fails

  1. trkemp says:

    This reminds me of when I was learning to program. I enjoyed writing graphics programs and would often end up with beautiful but unintended results that I never could have produced if I had been trying.

    1. Michael Colombo says:

      Yeah I just read an article about someone trying to 3D print for the first time, and he said sometimes it reminded him of the old 9 pin dot matrix printer. You’d set it to print, come back a while later and it was just a giant spool of random characters . :)

  2. bitflusher (@bitflusher) says:

    I had a spectacular failure where my print detached from the bad halfway during the print. The bottom hald was a female statue, the upper half was a molten blob that resembled a male body part. All together a NSFW print!

  3. Frank says:

    So, what do you guys do with these “failures”? Is there a way to create normal filament from it and start over?

    1. Michael Colombo says:

      There are a couple of folks who have made their own filament machines, so I suppose you could run it back through again. Other than that, put it on the mantle? :)

    2. terre says:

      I’m afraid that we are just encouraging the making of more crappy stuff that can’t really be recycled at the end of its life. I agree that it is amazing that we are advancing to this point but let’s not forget the art and the craft.

      1. JD90 says:

        The material probably can be recycled. But you need a lot of it to make it worth the effort, I’m collecting a bunch of material from other people at my local maker space to see if I can do that. I still need to make a part shredder (granulator) and finish a winder.

        Only a few failures are interesting, a lot of that Flickr group are pretty boring failures.

  4. Briefcase Mitch says:

    What happened with that evil ducky print? run out of material? why did that happen?

    1. Jay says:

      Looks like the printed it with only perimeters (shell only) without enough/any infill, so the top surface printed “on-air” and didn’t bridge well enough (fell inside).

  5. Jay says:

    My favorite 3D printing mistake so far is my “Lobotomized Yoda Bust” which looks like somebody sliced the top of Yoda’s head off with a light-saber.

  6. Neil MacMillan says:

    The glass build plate got pushed off my Replicator 2 onto the floor early in an overnight build, the next morning I found a waterfall of extruded filament.

  7. hamish says:

    Finally! Now I know I am not the only one to have major failures…

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In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens' educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

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