The Strange Inbox Of A 3D Printing Service

By on May 18th, 2016 in Service


 A sample 3D print from Make Mode
A sample 3D print from Make Mode

The day-to-day at our 3D printing service, Make Mode, is nothing if not interesting. 

People from all walks of life, every industry, every economic strata, every level of expertise, are interested in 3d printing. The question I get asked most frequently by friends and family members after explaining what I do for a living is inevitably: “What kinds of things do you print for people?” 

I’ll start with the basics – architecture models, industrial design prototypes, toys/figurines, but the non-traditional requests are usually the ones people are most interested in hearing about. 

After spending several years in the space, we’ve seen just about every type of 3d printing request you could imagine. Most of these requests are quite reasonable… but some, well, some are a little more eclectic. Ranging from the weird to the wild to the just plain confusing, here are some of my favorite non-traditional 3D printing requests I’ve seen over the years.

A little too vague

Some of my favorite 3D printing requests are from folks that don’t know as much about the 3D printing process. And that’s ok! We always do our best to educate people about the 3D printing process and specific limitations of certain 3d printing technologies, but that doesn’t stop people from coming to us with vague requests for outlandish objects. Here are some direct quotes of project descriptions that made it a little tricky to determine exactly what our customers were after:

“Doll Flower”

I’m still not exactly sure what “doll flower” is but this was all the detail our customer chose to share. We requested some elaboration but never heard back…

“A life size statue of a half-naked medieval princess”

We didn’t really know how to respond to this one. The size would make this request difficult, not to mention the challenges involved in medieval princess design.


Seems straightforward enough. However, we were not able to get enough detail to determine if we would be measuring feet with the standard or metric system.

“A ‘Mike Rowe’ mask”

We usually make it a point not to ask too many specific questions around why someone wants to print a specific object, but I’ll just assume this would have been for a “Dirty Jobs” themed party.

Is this even legal?

3D printing requests can sometimes fall into a legal grey area. Most commonly people want to print something that violates intellectual property rights: using logos or likenesses that they do not have permission to use. But sometimes requests come in that we have to decide whether or not we can, or even should, pursue.

 A 3D model of a key
A 3D model of a key

“I have a picture of a key – can you 3D print it for me?”

I first had to ask myself “Why?”. If you already have the key can’t you get it copied at a hardware store? This request had attempted burglary written all over it.

“I want to 3d print a gun as proof of concept.”

We don’t particularly want the FBI banging down our door so we try to stay away from printing weapons. What concept are we trying to prove here, by the way? We’re happy to let Defense Distributed handle these kinds of projects.

“A medical apparatus”

We’re certainly not licensed medical practitioners here at Make Mode, and, interestingly enough, neither was the nice gentlemen requesting this 3d print. We try not to facilitate any medical experiments gone-wrong.  

Not sure how to describe these…

Finally, I’d like to leave you with a few requests that defy categorization. I applaud the creative spirit of these people and hope that they all find what they are looking for!


Sounds tasty, but maybe not best suited to 3D printing.

“High end laser pointer for cats”

For the discerning customer of cat-centric laser pointers

“We need big models of vitamins…like football sized vitamins”

Those are some pretty large vitamins!

“I’d like to create a doll that looks exactly like her”

This was the point in time when we established a strict “no voodoo doll” policy. 

Via Make Mode

By Blair Gardner

Blair Gardner is a co-founder at Make Mode, a Brooklyn, New York based digital design and fabrication studio specializing in 3D printing, laser cutting, and design.