Introduction: Modeling With Christmas Carols

About: SOLIDWORKS Applications Engineer at CAPINC (Computer-Aided Products Inc.)

What’s the best way to start getting ready for the
holiday season? Design and 3D print a custom Christmas ornament of course!

I originally created this Instuctable for the White House 3D Printed Ornament Competition. The inspiration for the design of this ornament began with the popular Christmas carol, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. From there, the ornament took on a life of it’s own.

My goal for the competition was to design an ornament that would be impossible or REALLY hard to produce through any other method than 3D printing. The biggest challenge to this was designing something that could actually be 3D printed. While the intricate details can be beautiful, the ornament’s geometry must have enough thickness for the 3D printer’s head to actually lay the material. I show this validation process towards the beginning of the video above.

I created this ornament using SOLIDWORKS 2015 and used many modeling features to achieve it’s elaborate design. Below are instructions on how I modeled and 3D printed this ornament. It lists every feature that was used and how they were applied in the design. Also, make sure to watch the video above to see the 3D printing process from start to finish.

*Download the STL file at the end of this Instructable to print the ornament yourself!

Step 1: Sketch the Music

Create a sketch by tracing the music sheet from your favorite Christmas song.

Step 2: Extrude a Cylinder and Wrap the Sketches

First, extrude the cylinder from a plane that is perpendicular to the Music sketch. Then, use the Wrap feature to emboss the sketches onto the cylinder.

Step 3: Cut Away the Excess

Extrude-Cut the cylinder to free up the geometry as seen above.

Step 4: Model the Christmas Scene

Next, create a sketch normal to the cylinder's face and wrap it onto the cylinder. For this, I first wrapped a sketch of Santa Clause on his sled behind a reindeer. Then, to save time, I circular patterned the reindeer to account for the whole gang. I then finished it off with a few trees, stars, and a Christmas bow!

Step 5: Model the Top

Next, create a dome over the cylinder that you've decorated with the wrapped features. To add detail to the dome, I used advanced features such as Split Line, Surface Extrude, and Intersect. The combination of these features allowed me to project a sketch of a snowflake onto the dome, then remove the excess material to end up with a 3D snowflake dome!

Step 6: Add Rigidity and Clean It Up

To make for the most solid 3D printed part, extend the feature geometry so that they intersect as much as possible. Clean the part up after making these changes by revolving a cut around the inner diameter of the dome. This will create a single, seamless, face on the interior of the dome. Finally, mirror the dome to enclose the geometry.

Step 7: Final Touches on the Music

Make final adjustments to the Music geometry. In this case, I had a body in mid-air that needed to be relocated to flow and intersect with the dome's geometry. To do this I used the features Offset Surface and Move/Copy Body.

Step 8: Add Text to the Back of the Ornament

The geometry on the back face of the ornament was created in the same way that the music was added to the front. The words "Merry", "Christmas", and "2014" were modeled as individual bodies to allow for them to be moved and adjusted. Once located so that they all intersect, I used the Combine feature to turn the ornament into a single solid body.

Step 9: Smooth Out the Geometry

Using a combination of extrude and cut features, smooth out the model text geometry to flow with the ornament's profile.

Step 10: Add the Finishing Touches Then Print!

Finally, add the loop to the top of the ornament so that it can be hung from your Christmas Tree. Then scale the model and export it as an STL file so that it can be sent to a 3D printer. When exporting a part as an STL in SOLIDWORKS, be sure to adjust the resolution and tolerance settings in order to produce the best looking printed part.

Formlabs Contest

Participated in the
Formlabs Contest

First Time Author Challenge

Participated in the
First Time Author Challenge

3D Printed Ornament Design Challenge

Participated in the
3D Printed Ornament Design Challenge