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3D Printer's #1 Tool: Digital Calipers
Now that Ive been 3D Printing for a couple weeks, Ive learned that to be truly creative with the printer, you really have to be fluent in the software, (which I recommend Tinkercad.com for beginners). As far as actual tools go, the most valuable tool a 3D printer/tinkerer can invest in, is a digital caliper, which will allow you to measure existing objects you are trying to recreate, as well as measure how parts should fit together. If you know the exact dimensions of an object, it is much easier to recreate it.
I have a game I play now to test how fluent I am with the program where when I re-create something, Ill start a stopwatch to see how long it takes to redesign something. Some designs are harder than others, but Im usually falling between 20-60 minutes, then its just a matter of printing it up. This would be impossible without my digital caliper.
You can find them on Ebay for about $12-15 with a search of "Digital Caliper". I use mine just about every single day I print. Ill show you an example later today.