How to make your own Christmas ornaments with a 3D printer?

For many people, Christmas is the best time of the year. Not only for visiting family and friends, having dinner or going on holiday, but also for decorating your home with nice seasonal items, such as a Christmas tree, ornaments and wall decorations.

These decorative items are of course available in abundance, but what if you have a 3D printer or know someone with a 3D printer? Then you can design and print them yourself.

In this blog, I will tell you how I created my own Christmas collection using CAD software (Fusion 360), a 3D printer and Eco-friendly materials.

This will help you to create and print your own collection.



Idea

It all starts with an idea. Before you start designing something, it is useful to specify exactly what you are going to make, for whom, for what purpose. Questions that can help you specify your idea are:

What do I want to achieve?
Creating a collection of 3D printable Christmas ornaments that can be printed easily, quickly and without the need of supports.
What are the key characteristics?
A standing print orientation to prevent the use of support material, a hook/hole to hang the object and it should be printable in one piece.
For whom or what am I making something?
For anyone who wants to make Christmas decorations. With the focus on user-friendliness / fast printing (in one part of 10 cm in height) / maximum 30 grams of material per item.
How will I or the end user use it? What do they find important?
The 3D model itself must indicate how it is to be printed, i.e. lying down or standing up on the print bed.

Design

Once it is clear to you exactly what you want to make and what properties/ core characteristics it must have, you get to work on the design.


In this case, I opted for a design using Fusion 360 (CAD software). In this environment, you can easily create a 3D model from a sketch in an intuitive way.


For the star, I started by sketching the outer lines of the shape and indicating the 'section lines' I want to extrude inwards, to the center. Assuming that this model will be printed standing up, I extruded several sections, from outside to inside, each time 3mm in. Then I added a fillet to all edges so that the sections flow into each other. Finally, I made a hook at the top, by sketching an outline at the top of the star.


Now that the model is ready, I exported it as STL to do a test print.

Design note: a FDM 3D printer is generally not good at printing overhangs steeper than 45 degrees, without supports.

Material selection

After you have finished your design, you choose the material you want to use. Nowadays, there is a wide choice of different eco-friendly and even recycled materials available. I generally use PLA and PETG filaments, which are both easy to print and come in a wide variety of colors. However, each material has its own (printing) properties, so it is good to check the packaging before you start printing. Below are some default settings:

rPLA
Temperature: 190 - 220 Celsius
Bed temperature: 50 - 60 Celsius
Retraction length: 0.8 mm direct drive / 4.5 mm bowden
Cooling fan: 100%

rPETG
Temperature: 220 - 245 Celsius
Bed temperature: 70 - 80 Celsius
Retraction length: 1.2 mm direct drive / 5 mm bowden
Cooling fan: 50 - 80%

Slicing / print preparation

Once you have designed your 3D model and chosen a material, it is time to divide the 3D model into tiny layers using a slicer. Based on your needs: fine details (0.1mm) = long print time, coarse details (0.3mm) = short print time, or something in between you can prepare the object for printing. I chose the middle ground: a layer height of 0.2mm which allowed me to print this star in about 3 hours and 14 minutes. Note: this is an indication and may differ from the actual printing time.

A slicer determines the route the 3D printer must take to print the object.

After you have entered the settings and sliced the object, you can save the 'tool path' as GCODE and send it to your printer via SD card, USB or the network. In this case I used Cura (a free slicer). However, there are many alternatives that have almost the same functionality, such as PrusaSlicer, Slic3r, IdeaMaker and Simplify3D.

Once you select the file on your 3D printer, it will heat up to the desired temperature and start printing your object.

Final results: 3D printable Christmas ornaments

The goal of this project was to create a 3D printable Christmas collection that is easy to print and available for free to anyone with a 3D printer. Hopefully this article will give you some context about how I went about this. Maybe now you'll want to get started yourself. The structure from idea to design to material selection to print preparation remains the same for almost every object, so hopefully this article will help you.


Below you will find the end results (3D prints) of all the objects that I have designed.

The entire collection of 3D models is available for free download on all major platforms: MyMiniFactory, Cults3D, PrusaPrinters and Thangs.


- Additive star

- Subtractive Star

- Swirling ornament

- Twisted ornament

- Christmas Tree ornament

- Iris ornament

- Donut ornament

- Icicle

- Spiral tree


If you have any questions about this blog, please feel free to contact me. I am happy to help.

  • Result
  • Additive Star
  • Subtractive Star
  • Swirl
  • Twisted Ornament
  • Christmas Tree
  • Iris
  • Donut
  • Icicle
  • Spiral Tree