Introduction: 3D Printed Keepsake Ornaments

About: Teacher of Engineering and Mathematics at Cedar Grove High School

I was inspired to create this project after unpacking my Christmas ornaments.

A few years ago, my wife and I bought THESE kits to record our kids' handprints. They're adorable and remind us how little our kids were, but we always have to check the back of the ornament to see which handprint belongs to which of our kids. I decided to create another keepsake 'time stamp' ornament using our kids' signatures.

I hope you enjoy this project as much as I enjoyed making it.



Gravit Designer (free version has more than enough features for this project)

FDM 3D Printer (I used a Lulzbot Taz 6 with Dual-Head Extruder)

PLA Filament

Ribbon for ornaments

Paper and markers to gather signatures


3x10 mm Round Magnets (to create optional refrigerator magnets)

Loctite Super Glue Gel

Step 1: Collect the Signatures

This step was easier said than done.

I have a ten-year-old, an eight-year-old, and a five-year-old. The ten-year-old demanded to know what I was going to do with her signature before she agreed to sign her paper. The eight-year-old decided to try and change his signature into 'something fancy' instead of signing his name like he normally would. My five-year-old didn't like the marker I gave her, so she spent ten minutes trying to find her favorite crayon before agreeing to use my Sharpie. These are the memories I will cherish :)

In the end, I had each of my kids sign a blank piece of paper using a Sharpie.

Step 2: Trace the Signatures Using Gravit

Next, I had to convert the hand-written signatures into a vector image. I use Gravit Designer for all of my illustrations. The free version is user-friendly and has enough features for this hobby graphic designer.

I took a picture of the signatures with my phone, uploaded them to my PC, and then imported them into Gravit. I traced the design with the tools in Gravit. For tutorials on the use of these tools, I turned to the Gravit YouTube channel.

Step 3: Import the Vectorized Signatures Into Tinkercad

Once I traced all of the signatures in Gravit, I vectorized these borders and exported the designs as SVGs. Tinkercad does a remarkable job rendering 3D models from SVGs.

Step 4: Create Dual-Color Design in Tinkercad

After I imported the SVGs of my kids' signatures, I creates a design to encase their signatures. I went with an organic shape, but this is the time to get creative. 3D printing is suppose to be fun, so think outside the box when developing the shape of your ornament.

I also decided to print my ornaments using my Lulzbot Taz6 with Dual-Head Extruder.

I designed my ornament in alternate-color layers. By sinking my kid's signature through the first layer, and exposing the color of the second layer, I achieved the look I was going for.

If you don't have a dual head extruder, this look can still be accomplished with carefully timed filament swaps.

Step 5: Print and Finish the Ornaments

Purple is the favorite color of two of my kids. I printed their ornaments at the same time. This dual-color design took three hours and forty minutes to print. My other daughter's red and pink design took a little over two hours to print.

Once off the print bed, I attached ribbon to the top loop and the ornaments were ready for the holiday season.

I hope you enjoyed this project. I would love to hear the innovative ways you've been able to record/timestamp your kid's development.

Step 6: BONUS STEP: Other Uses for the Signatures

I decide to have some more fun with my kids' signatures.

I started by making magnets for the refrigerator. I removed the loops for the ribbon and added some recesses on the back of each design in Tinkercad. I attached THESE magnets using Loctite superglue.

My kids were very surprised when they eventually found them on our crowded fridge.

I then decide to customize something I use just about every day. I designed a copy of my Ernie Ball Pickguard in Tinkercad. I made this version three-ply and once again etched my kids' signatures into the top layer, exposing the layer beneath it.

Have fun 3D printing your own keepsakes.

Stay well,


Holiday Decorations Speed Challenge

Second Prize in the
Holiday Decorations Speed Challenge