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For my entry for the 3D Printed Ornament Design Challenge, I decided I wanted to do something inspired by one of our family’s favorite DC destinations-- the Reading Room in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building. The beauty of the building and knowledge within is a great testament to the best of mankind and all the accomplishments yet to come!

Reading Room image is by Carol M. Highsmith and in the Public Domain

Step 1: Prep and Planning

I worked in Blender, which can be downloaded for free. It can be intimidating at first, but I've found tutorials are plentiful!

I typically work using Blender Units as Centimeters. Per the contest rules, the ornament could only be 3” by 3” which meant 7.6 centimeters by 7.6 centimeters.

I don't own a 3D printer, so I typically use companies like Shapeways to do my prints. Shapeways has start of the art 3D printers and can print in a variety of materials, including premium metals like gold and silver. I reviewed the Materials design requirements and decided that I would want my ornament to be 1 millimeter thick—which would keep it printable in the materials I was eyeing-- Strong & Flexible Plastic, Brass, and Premium Silver.

Deciding your materials and knowing their limitations from the get-go is really helpful and makes the process go MUCH smoother.

<p>Congrats! Definetly earned it! Happy Holidays!</p>
<p>Well done, and very informative. I kind of stoped reading when I saw things like &quot;1/16&quot; and &quot;Y axis&quot;.... My brain automatically shuts down when confronted with anything mathematical. But thanks for the tip about Blender anyway. I might be able to use it someday, if I can find the patience to learn, and someone with the patience to teach me. </p>
<p>Hehe, sorry about that. I figure I might need those mathematical details myself in the future, so I went ahead and documented it. : )</p>
<p>I am sure others who want to learn how to make something like this will love having those details. </p><p>I *can* read it and understand it. I just don't *want* to. I actually do have a learning disability for real. It doesn't make it entirely impossible for me to do math but it makes it very uncomfortable. So my philosophy is, if I don't need to do it, why waste the time and energy? </p>
<p>This is beautiful! I love the level of detail on both the inside and the outside of the ornament. Adding the Reading Room floor on the inside of the ornament was such a great decision! Congrats on being featured and a finalist!</p>
<p>Oh good. I almost didn't do that Reading Room floor. I'm glad you appreciated that detail! : )</p>
<p>Yes, it's such a great detail! It's something that you don't notice right away, or at least I didn't when looking at your rendering. It's something that forces people to look much closer at your ornament than they would otherwise. </p>
<p>Bravo! Great tutorial and excellent design. :)</p>
<p>Thank you!</p>
very classy. ♡ it
<p>Thank you!</p>
<p>This is great!!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!! It's just amazing! Great idea to use the Library of Congress on an ornament! I LOVE LOVE LOVE to read so this is my so far favorite!</p>
<p>Thank you, glad you enjoyed the design!</p>
<p>Be sure to enter the White House Christmas Ornament Contest if you are a US resident - this could well be a winner!</p>
<p>Done! Thanks for your encouragement! : )</p>
<p>Told you so! Congrats!</p>
<p>Yeah, you called it! : )</p>
<p>Are you selling these? :)</p>
<p>Well, not actively. But I do have it up on Shapeways, so you can order prints from them (which I do get a small markup from). I ordered my print (a version in Polished White Strong &amp; Flexible Plastic) from them earlier this week.</p><p><a href="http://shpws.me/yeJB" rel="nofollow">http://shpws.me/yeJB</a><br><br>P.S. If you do end up wanting to order from them and covet any of the other plastic colors other than red, green, or white-- let me know. I didn't turn all the options on.</p>
<p>That is really nice, and I'm not even a yank!!!</p>
<p>Hahah, thanks! Have a wonderful day!</p>
<p>Great Ornament! I really like the instructions too!</p>
<p>Thank you, I'm a fan of your ornament as well! :)</p>
<p>Great subject! And the ornament turns out light and delicate - not what you expect from a building, but very pretty! One of my favorites!</p>

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Bio: I'm a software developer who loves to hike. I have two young boys (a 3 year old and a 1 year old). When they ... More »
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