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How 3D Printing Can Improve Mental Health

Have you ever felt stressed out and overwhelmed by your job? Averi Ward knows exactly how you feel. She’s an Emergency Medical Technician – Paramedic (EMT-P) for University of Utah Health who deals with high-pressure situations on a daily basis. But Averi has found a unique way to manage her stress and improve her mental health: 3D printing!

Averi was introduced to 3D printing by her coworkers and quickly became enamored with the process. Utilizing the 3D printers at the Eccles Health Sciences Library she was able to learn and experiment with creating various items. She found that printing different objects allowed her to have a creative outlet and gave her something to look forward to after her long shifts at work.

One day, Averi mentioned her new hobby to her therapist, who encouraged her to create “Averi Warriors.” Using a website called Thingiverse, which has thousands of files that are ready to be edited and printed, Averi found various models of female fighters that expressed different aspects of herself. She printed several different poses of her warriors, each with a different persona, such as “Sassy Averi” who has her arms crossed and “Strong Averi.” It took some trial and error to get started, including losing a few swords in the process, but soon Averi had her own army.

But Averi didn’t stop there. She also printed out grim reapers to fight her Averi Warriors. Her therapist saw very quickly that the Averi Warriors were meant to fight the grim reapers. These figures helped Averi view herself as a fighter and empowered her in her work and personal life. “This is how I combat stress and life,” says Averi.

Averi Warriors and Grim Reapers

As she delved deeper into 3D printing, Averi broadened the scope of her prints and has had success in printing toys such as gifts for her nieces and nephews, and even a fun little lizard named “DB” who her coworkers have become very fond of. It isn’t uncommon for her coworkers to ask for a turn with DB as a friend to keep them company as they complete their more tedious assignments. “I feel like in the emergency department it can get so down and depressing, but these printed toys are so simple and can brighten your day,” Averi explains. She found that bringing joy to others through her prints gave her even more satisfaction and helps her cope with the stresses of her job.

Averi encourages others to try 3D printing as a simple pleasure that can lighten their day and improve their mental health. “It’s been so helpful to my mental health,” she says. She also found that printing fidget toys helped her with concentration and provided a good grounding technique to stay calm between stressful cases.

3D printed creatures
3D Creatures printed by Averi

If you’re interested in trying 3D printing yourself, the Eccles Health Sciences Library has 3D printers available for people to use, with many resources available to learn how to get started. Averi believes that 3D printing can be a tool to not only create fun and exciting objects but also help people manage their mental health.

Averi’s story shows us that there are many unique and creative ways to manage stress and improve our mental health. Whether it’s through 3D printing or something else entirely, finding a creative outlet can be a great way to cope with the challenges of life. 

To find out more about the 3D printers available at the EHSL visit: