it needs to be useable afterwards, to generate some enthusiasm around the project and work that goes into it...
So something like a keychain or small puzzle games of various sorts would in my mind be great starting projects... great thing is that depending on the detail and or complexity and shape of the puzzle or keychain there is room for a large variety of difficulty levels in design and production.
The most useful and easy things I've designed and printed are knobs for various things. For a fan that broke, for a voltage source with a broken knob, for a plexiglass door. Designing something and then printing is much more fun and satisfying than printing someone else's design.
Each knob had a very specific and exact hole with a flat side to accept the post or screw that goes into the bottom of the knob and then the rest of the knob needs to allow a firm grip with fingers so should be "bumpy" and it needs to look nice. So not just a simple cylinder but something more organic and visually pleasing and possibly an indicator of some sort (an arrow or a line or a triangle or a circle to indicate position).
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