Dec 13, 2015

3D Printed Holiday Decorations & Ornaments

There's something about the holidays that inspires me to make stuff. Maybe it's just another good excuse which comes with a theme and a reason to create things.

What is that reason, you ask? Uh... because we really need more useless holiday decorations and tree ornaments.

On a whim, I started drawing a simple tree in Autodesk 123D Design - and while I had very low expectations, the resulting model and basic idea that came out really was quite nice!

Design Goal

I was looking mostly to create a flat ornament - something that could be hung from a wreath or a tree.

Within the first couple of minutes, once I had the basic shape down, I realized I could create two flat models and put them together at 90 degrees to create more of a 3D model - similar to something you could make out of cardboard.

It seemed also very feasible to create something that could stand on its own, so I also decided that this design should have a stand or something at the base that would allow it to be stood on a mantle or desk.


It was quite simple to sketch the basic tree. Using a common "stacked triangle" design, I did this with straight lines, freehand with the polyline tool, and sketched half the tree. Once that was done, I extruded it 2mm, duplicated that shape and flipped it 180 degrees and put the two halves close together (not touching) to form the tree.

The gap between the two halves would be how I would fit two of these full tree objects together at 90 degrees to make a more 3Dimensional object in the end. I connected the top half of the tree halves with a simple 2mm high rectangle.

Then I duplicated the whole tree shape with the rectangle, but in this duplicate, I shifted the rectangle to the bottom half so that this would exactly compliment the first object when the two were fit together at a right angle. The gap left between the tree halves was 2.7mm, which gave 0.7mm of clearance over the 2mm thickness of the objects to allow for printing imperfections.

I created a simple loop at the top using a 2mm high cylinder of 4mm diameter and removed a 2mm cylinder from the center to make the hole from which the ornament could be hung.

Adjustments to the model

I made one simple adjustment to make the model print faster and to give it a lighter design which would allow for more crafty decorations to be added (say string, garland, maybe even 3D Doodling in multi-color). I made all the triangle shaped branches hollow, so the whole tree was more of an outline rather than a solid shape. I liked this adjustment more than the original and kept it.

The Tree Stand

I really wanted a final object which could stand on its own - so I created a small tree stand about 32mm in diameter - using a cut off section of a sphere. I removed material in an "X" shape to hold both halves of the tree bottom.

I decided to plan for the future and leave small holes in the bottom of the tree stand and a wire channel along the bottom so that I could eventually add tree lights if I found the ambition for that ;)

Expanding The Idea

The same basic design also worked with a snowman - created with three circles and a top-hat ;) I only printed that one in a tiny size to test it so far, but you can be sure that this will lead to many more expansions and adjustments.

The Model

Get the model of this Tree at this link - and be sure to comment here if you have any ideas for improvement!

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