Introduction: Design & 3D Print Your Own Christmas Cookie Cutters Using Tinkercad
Proto-Pasta is getting ready for the Christmas season!
♫♪♫♪♪ It's the most wonderful time of the year falalalalala.... yeah yeah I'm sure you all get what I'm trying to say but you're here for 3D printing! We put together a fun little project so you too can print your holiday anyway you'd like instead of purchasing it.
This Instructable will show you how to "hack" your printer and use your slicer as a design tool so you too can Imagine, Design, and Print any Shape, Size, or Color cookie cutter without any experience in 3D modeling!
Step 1: Getting Started With Tinkercad
We want everyone to be able to make awesome 3D prints at home with our materials so this Instructable will show you how to use TinkerCAD to create a basic solid model of your cookie cutter.
TinkerCAD is a free web-browser based 3D modeling platform simple enough for anyone to use. You can find the link HERE. Once you reach Tinkercad's website you will need to create an account before you can create a cookie cutter. Now that you are signed up click on 'Create New Design'. This will open up a build area where you will have access to all the tools to bring your cookie cutter to life.
Step 2: Choosing Your Design
Let's start by exploring the internet for an image of your desired shape!
To create a cookie cutter you will need to start with a very simple outline. In order to find the perfect image, search for a stencil or outline of the shape you want. At Proto-Pasta we made a few different designs but my favorite was the snowflake so I searched for 'Snowflake stencil'.
The quality of the image you chose will affect the resolution of the model Tinkercad generates. To find an ideal image we will use the search tools under the drop-down menu. Start by selecting 'large' under 'size' and then set the color to 'black'. This will filter your search and put the best candidates at the top of the page.
Your image will also need to be completely solid black for Tinkercad to give you the model you need. You can find one already filled in or you can do it yourself in a program like Paint.
Step 3: Converting to SVG
Tinkercad will convert your image into a 3D object but it won't be able to use any regular image so we will be using a Scalable Vector Graphics image or SVG for short.
Once you have chosen your image open Online-Convert.com to convert any image into the SVG format.
To open the image you downloaded click on 'Choose Files' and grab the file you want from where you saved it. Once opened scroll down to optional settings and select 'monochrome' under 'color'. To finish up click 'start conversion' and the new SVG image will automatically be downloaded and accessible at the bottom of your screen. Open the SVG image and save it to a place you will be able to access it later.
Step 4: Creating a Model in Tinkercad
Now that you have an SVG of the shape you want, head over to Tinkercad and follow this next step to create your model.
In the top right corner click on the import tab which pulls up a menu with all the settings you will need to import your image as a 3D model. Start by selecting the SVG you downloaded by clicking on 'choose a file'. Make sure to grab the SVG or it won't work! Next, we have to change the dimensions. Since we started with a very large image we have to scale it down for our printer. I found 100 mm to be a nice size but it's all up to you. I don't want you to be disappointed by the size of your cookie. Click on import in the bottom right and watch Tinkercad create your cookie cutter. Now that you have a solid model you can adjust the height by hovering your mouse over the white box in the middle of the model. I found 10 mm to be an adequate height.
The last step is to export your model as an STL so you can open it in your favorite slicer!
Step 5: Bringing Your Cookie Cutter to Life
This is where the Instructable starts to get interesting. You are probably wondering why I told you to create a solid object in Tinkercad because a solid object probably won't be very good a making cookies. You're right, a solid object won't be very good at making cookies. That's why the next steps are very important and super cool!
First, open your slicer. You can choose Cura, Mattercontrol, Simplify3D or another slicer, but we chose Slic3r Prusa Edition for this example on our Prusa MK3. They all have an endless amount of settings and variables you can change in order to alter the outcome of your 3D print. We will show you how to use those settings to 'hack' your 3d printer slicer software, turning your solid object into a cookie cutter. Our slicer-based design will use wall settings to create a single vertical wall for the cutter part and the skirt setting to create the handle to hold the cookie cutter. No hardware changes are required! Let's see how we tricked our slicer. Yes, lying to your printer is part of the fun!!!
Step 6: Setting a New Nozzle Diameter
Even though your printer may have a standard 0.4 mm nozzle, let's start by telling the software you have a 0.8 mm nozzle to allow larger layers up to 0.8 mm. This setting is typically located in the printer settings tab. These changes allow us larger software limits for layer thickness.
Step 7: Infill, Perimeters, and Speed
We'll set a single perimeter with no infill and no top/bottom layers. We choose a layer height of 0.7 mm and an extrusion width of 0.8 mm. Then, we decreased our speed to 16 mm/s. It's important to change speed together with layer height and extrusion width to maintain a volume flow where material is melted. If printing too fast at an increased volume flow, material will not melt and cause a jam. On our MK3, we previously determined a maximum flow rate for Proto-pasta HTPLA of 9.1 cubic mm/s (0.2 mm layers x 0.7 mm extrusion width x 65 mm/s) at 240 deg C nozzle. Knowing our new layer height and extrusion width of 0.7 mm and 0.8 mm respectively, we calculated a speed of 16 mm/s to maintain our volume flow rate at 240 deg C. You'll see these setting changes reflected in our slicer.
Step 8: Generating a Skirt
Now that we've designed our cutter wall, it's time to add the skirt, our handle. This part is much more straight-forward, we increased the skirt width to 6mm and turned off the brim. Finally, you can see in the slicer preview tab the two main, and previously missing, design elements of our cookie cutter defined (or designed) by the slicer! Next, let's get to printing!!!
Step 9: Finally Printing!
We export the gcode to our SD card and start our print. Even at only 16 mm/s, our Prusa MK3 makes short time of our snowflake cookie cutter with a print time of only 20 minutes. In the end, we have a quick and sturdy cutter for some custom cookies. So the question is, what kind of cookies will you make?
Step 10: Enjoy Your Creation!
Print a Christmas tree out of our special pine filament or maybe a snowflake in glitter dust available from Proto-Pasta.com!!! Whatever you make we would love to see it! Share and tag us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!