Christmas trees haven't changed much over the years however technology has and i think it's time your Christmas Tree reflects this by getting a makeover from technology. There are now technologically advanced Christmas Tree decorations, this isn't the type of technology that will give your decorations inbuilt smartphones (we will have to wait a few more years for that), this is about the modern methods of manufacturing these Christmas decorations are manufactured by allowing almost impossible geometries to be produced that are impossible to make in any other way, this is of coarse the wonder and magic of 3D Printing: Nearly anything you can design using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software can be made into a 3D physical item.
Now the design that takes full advantage of this incredible technology: 'Captured Snowflake - Christmas Ornament': This is a design that I designed using a program called 'Autodesk Inventor' using many design tools and commands, I then got my design 3D Printed from a company called Shapeways: Shapeways is an amazing relatively new company who sells 3D Printed products, either designed by yourself using specialized computer software then uploaded to their website to order yourself or you can order a design from a world wide community of designers which can be ordered (you can even order this design), once ordered the virtual designs are 3D Printed into physical producs then shipped to your front door.
What make this Christmas Ornament so amazing?
The Ornament: A Snowflake, captured and preserved in an intricate hollow star cage. The snowflake hangs from 6 loose chains - makes a great unique Christmas Tree deceration using the inbuilt hoop and looks great all year round, it is also just the right size to be worn as a funky necklace if you choose to!
This design can be manufactured in no other way than 3d printing as it exploits the technology's incredible ability to trap objects within objects (the snowflake within the intricate star cage) and create moving parts within a design (the tiny 3D Printed chains suspending the snowflake): This decoration emerges from the 3D Printer fully assembled with all the parts in place!
The Design Process...
Here is a basic outline of the design process:
First was the idea... I wanted to create something that fully took advantage of the capabilities of 3D Printing and would fit in with the festive time of year, this was the design I came up with as it took advantage of 3D Printing's ability to trap objects within objects and extending on that was the moving loose chains.
Second was the design process, 3D Printing in this material has certain constraints such as 0.5 mm gap between separate parts like the links of the chains. Also, the minimum thickness of any part of the design ('Wall Thickness') must be a minimum of 0.7mm.
The design started with the cage, this was made by creating a simple 2D sketch of a thin outline of a star and then 'Extruding' it into 3D (this is the star frame that can be seen). Next, 2 abstract curves/swirls were drawn across the star and through some design magic were converted to two of the 'bars' of the cage, using a 'Circular Pattern' command these were repeated for a total of five sets as you can see in the images. This design was then mirrored onto the other side of the star producing the cage.
I next designed the snowflake, this was very easy as i just drew a 2D snowflake in the software and 'Extruded' it into a 3D snowflake, through some further design magic, I added some grooves and bumps to the snowflake to make it look better.
Finally I designed the chains that suspend the snowflake within the cage by designing a couple of links then just repeating this design until a chain is formed. By cominging these three elements, this cool Christmas Ornament was born!
I reckon unique 3D Printed Christmas tree decorations are going to give the old Ball Balls and tinsel a run for their money as they allow infinite customization by the designer and customer and can create unique complicated geometries that are impossible to create in any other way!
I hope you like the design, if you like it enough, please vote for this entry in the 'Design Competition' and 'Holiday Gifts Contest'.
If you like it a lot, you can buy this ornament directly from Shapeways.