March 11, 2010, 4:17 PM — Think your home inkjet printer is just for printing out boarding passes and driving directions? Give it a new lease on life. Here's how to use your printer to label things, play games, design a clothing line, and more. Whether you're feeling productive, playful, crafty, or creative, there's a project here for you--and it won't require specialized (or expensive) equipment.
Make Super Models
You don't need to buy a huge kit or a set of expensive tools to start building models. Just look into Papercraft, a do-it-yourself modeling community that uses nothing but printers, paper, and tape. All you have to do is print out the model sheets, cut them out, and follow the instructions, though they can be as simple as a basic box shape or as complicated as this papercraft replication of a classic IBM Thinkpad laptop, complete with accurately modeled internal parts.
Paperkraft.net is a good place to start--this papercraft blog is updated daily with all kinds of new models, including plenty of contributions based on retro tech, sci-fi, and video game themes. My personal favorite is the official Street Fighter II set.
Print Your Own Posters
You don't need to break the bank at your local music store to plaster your wall with pics of your favorite band. Here's a faster, cheaper, and easier way to do it: Just pull a few high-resolution images from Google Image Search, run them through a poster-printing app, and you'll be able to print them out on letter-sized pages from your printer and assemble them yourself. Some printers have their own poster-size printing functions (look in the Page Setup dialogue box), but I prefer to use the Rasterbator and Easy Poster Printer--apps that can take an image and blow it up into readily printable letter-sheet-size chunks you can tape together.
This is particularly useful for students who have a small dorm-decorating budget (and some extra printer credit at the end of a semester) and really want some larger-than-life LOLcats on their walls. Of course, you'll have to shell out for some photo-quality paper if you want your posters to have that glossy look, but it's still cheaper than buying posters from the store, and you're not limited to a store's selection, either.
Whether you need to label your file folders, stick name tags to your personal possessions, or simply remind yourself that a stapler is, in fact, a stapler, your printer can get the job done.