December 5, 2022

Forget the Partridge in a Pear Tree: 12 Holiday Gifts for Engineers

By Protolabs

We know you engineers are a special breed: smart, creative, curious. We know because we work with you and your inventive colleagues every day. So, informed by our collaborations with you, and in the spirit of the season, here are 12 gift ideas you can pass along to your loved ones when they ask you what you really want this holiday season.

For Engineers at Work

These are practical, functional items you’ll want to add to your workspace.

Mechanical pencil
Image courtesy of Amazon
Mechanical Pencils

Mechanical pencils are essential for engineers. Even in our digital age, with computer-aided design and high-resolution 3D CAD models, mechanical pencils are still practical “tools.” Consider the rOtring 800 Retractable Mechanical Pencil, (0.5 mm). This one turns from a pencil to a stylus on the fly.

SolidWorks Black Book

Speaking of the digital age, the SolidWorks CAM 2022 Black Book is the third edition of the software company’s series on SolidWorks CAM. The book is geared to help professionals and students get familiar with functionality of the software and follows a step-by-step methodology.

Digital Calipers

Those of you doing hands-on work will benefit from a solid set of digital calipers, allowing you to take precise measurements of small objects, check fit tolerances before assembling parts, and so on. Here’s one to consider from VINCA Digital Calipers.

Reusable Notebook

Consider the Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook Bundle. This is a smart, practical notebook that connects with all of your devices. Feed your creativity by jotting down your ideas and saving each job in digital folders on your computer. As Amazon summarizes, “No more wasting paper: These 32-page dotted grid and lined notebooks can be used endlessly by wiping clean with a damp cloth.”

The Pocket Engineer—Wallet Ruler and Conversion Reference

We’ve occasionally seen these at trade shows, and they seem like handy little items. It’s the size of a credit card and includes functionality and information such as basic engineering equations and unit conversions. This one from Genius Lab Gear is laser-cut and laser-engraved stainless steel and has a thick, black enamel coating to prevent scratching.

Material selector
Protolabs Material Selector
Material Selectors

File these under shameless self-promotion. We actually produce these material selectors at Protolabs and customers tell us they love them. These pocket-sized guides are quick reference tools to help you identify the right plastic and metal materials for your next project. Best of all, you can order these at no cost, just visit our design aids page at our website.

For Engineers, Just for Fun

Because sometimes you need a break from work, here are half-dozen non-work, uncommon gift ideas.

Enginerd T-shirt

You’re likely familiar with the Co-Exist bumper sticker designed to represent tolerance among religions by combining various religious symbols to spell “Co-Exist. This T-shirt, from Shirt Stash, features a logo that uses the same design motif and spells “Enginerd” using various math symbols.

AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker

Great coffee fuels great ideas. Consider a coffee press from AeroPress Original, which uses a rapid, total immersion brewing process to make smooth, full-flavored coffee without bitterness and with low acidity.   

Coffee mug
Image courtesy of Etsy
Customized Coffee Mug

You’ll want to use this mug, which you can order from Etsy, to drink the coffee you’ll be brewing with that AeroPress. It includes graphics from engineering drawings and specifications and can be customized with your name.

Smart Moon Lamp

This levitating, gravity-defying moon lamp, which you can order from the Museum Store at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, seems to magically ‘float’ above a walnut ash wood base. It slowly rotates like the elliptical orbiting moon. This 3D-printed full moon has a textured surface like the moon’s own craters and glows an ethereal-like light as it emits its cool white light. Suspended by a strong built-in magnet, it creates a life-like illusion of the real thing.

Precision Clock Puzzle

Build a fully functional and mechanical pendulum clock with this kit. Each piece is laser-cut from sturdy wood sheets. Metal axles and plastic spacers make it easy to align everything precisely. The gears move smoothly and the pendulum moves back and forth in perfect tempo. This one could be a fitting gift for those budding student engineers, too. Order from Fat Brain Toys.

Inspiration from Thomas Edison

Finally, consider hanging a little inspiration in your office. This quote, in a floating font format from Etsy, is from Thomas Edison: “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.”


From all of us at Protolabs, we wish you a joyful holiday season and a productive and successful 2023!

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