3D Printing Industry

Creating Customized Gifts

Weddings are filled with gifts, and not just the ones you receive. The mother of the bride, the bridesmaids, the groomsmen, they all get gifts from the bride and groom. I wanted to give my groomsmen gifts they couldn’t get anywhere else, and that meant designing them myself.

lightbulb cufflink for groomsmen

If you’re haven’t been following along, I’m Dan, and this month I’m sharing how I used 3D printing to personalize my wedding. For my groomsmen, I wanted something uniform they could wear at the wedding, but also something that was unique to each of them, so I made them cufflinks. Like the engagement and wedding rings I designed and 3D printed, I got much more for my money than I would have if it I’d bought cufflinks retail, and the gifts were meaningful and truly personal.

Dream Up the Design

This was the hardest part: deciding what to make for each of them. Some ideas came more fully formed and I started with those. Others I needed to play with for a bit, sketching out various ideas until I landed on the one that felt right.

3D model of lightbulb cufflink

3D model of lightbulb cufflink

Model the Designs

I used OnShape, learning hands-on as I went. I started with the designs I knew I could model while researching the features to make the other shapes. At one point I discovered I couldn’t make as intricate a design as I wanted, so had to rework my idea until it came out right.

… or Alter an Existing Model

For the airplane cufflinks I made for one of my groomsmen who loves to travel, the perfect 3D printed plane already existed on Thingiverse. The copyright was open to use, and I confirmed with the artist that he was okay with my altering his design, so I simply replaced the base he had for the airplane with a cufflink stem.

plane cufflink for groomsmen

Airplane Jet Cufflink

Add a Monogram

To personalize these even more, my groomsmen’s initials were engraved into the base of each cufflink. I designed this in CAD as I couldn’t mirror the text for the left and right cufflink but needed to mirror them separately, then change the orientation and add it into my OnShape model of the design.

Prototype the Design

I printed the cufflinks in Versatile Plastic to test out the designs on one of my shirts. I discovered I needed to thicken the stem as well as tweak a few of the designs to make them all approximately the same size. Then I printed the final versions in Silver.

Globe cufflink before and after processing

Before and after using silver polish

Give it a Handmade Touch

I’d seen that you could polish silver, adding a chemical patina to it that gave the design more depth and detail. I tested this out on a sample and then polished each cufflink with Liver of Sulpher to give it more of a multi-dimensional, handmade feel.


The gift wasn’t a total surprise since I’d told my groomsmen they didn’t need to get cufflinks for their tuxedo shirts, but that I’d designed each cufflink for them complete with monogram blew them away. They were excited by this and had fun showing them off at the wedding and explaining the meaning of their wearing a plane, a globe, a lightbulb, a guitar and a wedge of cheese.

custom made cufflinks for groomsmen

The whole process took about two months, designing the cufflinks on a rolling basis, with about a week or two to conceive and model a design and two weeks to print it. You can always use Design with Shapeways to help you create your ideal gift.

And no, I did not design cufflinks for myself. I found the perfect pair in one of our community members’ shops instead!

What would you design for your wedding party or to wear at your wedding?




**Updated by Kendall Fately on 6/21/18

You may also like
3D Printing Industry
How I Created The Perfect Engagement Ring
June 16, 2018
Products and Design
Designer Spotlight: Colin Wiencek and His Hybrid Furniture
August 23, 2017
3D Printing Industry
Designer Spotlight: Ethan Chodos – Piece of Mind Design
December 30, 2016