25th February 2024 11:31 am
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3D prints you can have for free instead of backing the Fidget Cube

Once in a while a Kickstarter campaign will come around that, to be completely cliché, capture the hearts and minds of the internet.

There was the Pebble smartwatch, the Coolest Cooler, and the ill-fated OUYA.

But the newest kid on the block is the Fidget Cube, a desk toy packed with buttons, wheels and other objects designed to keep your hands busy for those who need to fidget.

Honestly, we love this project it makes our own fidgety hands excited, but we have our reservations.

First of all, it costs $19 (R274) with a furthur $19 for delivery to South Africa.

That’s the reasonable part, what’s less certain is the fact that this is a Kickstarter campaign with no promise of delivery, and it gets worse the bigger the project gets. Considering that, at the time of writing, the Fidget Cube has raised $3 243 749 out of a $15 000 goal (R46 million out of R216 000), and this project may fail under its own success as the creators struggle to ramp up production to ludicrous levels.

So what alternatives are there? Well 3D prints are here to save the day again. Sites such as MyMiniFactory, Thingiverse and Pinshape are full of little creations designed to show off interesting designs and clever inventions, but many of them have the alternate use of being fun to play with. And, of course, to fidget with.

Nuts ‘n’ bolts


Get it on Thingiverse

Usually given away as promotional items anywhere that 3D printers are being shown off, this little design is meant to imply that a 3D printer can produce mechanical parts. What we used it for, however, as as a desk toy for restless hands. Spinning he nut around the bolt is a lot of fun and the “spiky” pattern around the nut and the head of the bolt is satisfying to touch. This one has the most real use for us and we can stand by its fidgeting potential.

Gear Bracelet

Get it on MyMiniFactory

While we’ll get to the wonderful world of 3D printed gears later on, we wanted to talk about this – a $165 (R2 400) “Gear Ring”. This piece of  metal jewellery is also designed to be played with when you’re idle or need something for your hands to do. We wanted to find a 3D printed version of this creation, but the best we could find was a massive bracelet which accomplishes the same goal, albeit on a larger scale. If someone is out there with the skill to create a 3D printed Gear Ring, let us know.

Fidget Star

Get it on Thingiverse

While other designs in this story have alternate uses and fidgeting with them is a happy byproduct, the Fidget Star is made specifically to mess around with. As you can see in the gif above this single-print design comes off of the heat bed ready to be played with. It can be folded into several shapes and it looks hardy enough to stand up to some abuse.


Fidget Cube 3D printed alternative

Get it on Pinshape

Joysticks can be fun to twiddle around with, and there’s a bevy of 3D printed versions. We linked to a very simple one above, but you can search “joystick”, “ball and socket” or “ball joint” on your favourite design-sharing site and there will be a deluge of options. Just keep in mind that a lot of the designs have a purpose 0 such as joysticks made to be attached to phones – as they’re not usually designed for pointless movement in kind.

 Clips / Pegs

Fidget Cuber 3D printed alternative

Get it on Thingiverse

If, like us, you know the struggle of messing around with a clothes line peg as your only source of fidgeting, then we have a solution. Like the joystick above, this is only one example of a clip or peg and you can find a whole lot more by doing some searches. We chose this one because it looks like a shark and we don’t think we need to explain ourselves any more than that.

The world of gears


Get it below

Creating impressive, useless and fascinating 3D printed gears has become a sub hobby of 3D printing. While they’re great to look at and think about in the context of the complex mathematics that goes into them, they’re also a lot of fun to play with. Below you’ll find links to some of our favourite gear designs, but this is the category you’ll spend the most time searching around in.


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