Serotonin Necklace: How to Make Happiness From Scratch




Introduction: Serotonin Necklace: How to Make Happiness From Scratch

About: Oakland-based Brazilian media artist and educator, has been using technology as platform of experimentation, using public spaces, human interaction and machines interaction.

I got inspired by a friend who told me about a serotonin molecule metal necklace. You can find some that cost between $7.50 and $70 on google shop, or from a company that specializes in jewelry inspired by chemical molecules.

This neurotransmitter molecule has many functionalities on the body, but the most popular is its relation with mood and happiness, so it is known as the happiness molecule.

You can read all about the interesting functions of this neurotransmitter on wikipedia.

There's also an interactive 3D model of the molecule to play with using the JMOL software.

Step 1: 3D Modeling Using Fusion 360

Fusion 360 seems like a pretty good solution for anyone who wants to start learning 3D parametric design, or freeform T-Spline modeling.

The software works on Mac and Windows, and is cloud-based, but can work offline too.

It takes care of version control, so collaborating with other users is very easy.

Step 2: Create a Project and a New Fusion Design

Once you open Fusion, there's a Create button in the dashboard, where you can start a new project and selectmembers who you want to collaborate with.

Then, create a new fusion design linked to the new project you've just created.

Step 3: Starting With a Sketch

There are many ways to start design your happiness necklace, you can start freely creating basic 3D shapes by clicking on the Create button, or by sketching 2D lines.

For creating a sketch, click on Sketch button, then Create Sketch, when prompted to select the plane, select the XZ plane.

Step 4: Importing a SVG File

Let's import the skeletal form of the molecule from the wikipedia article. It's the SVG file: Serotonin-2D-skeletal.svg

Click in Sketch button then import SVG.

You must select the start position for your sketch.

You'll notice that the letters from the SVG file don't look so nice. Just select them and delete.

Step 5: Before 3D

Before going to the 3D world, let's make some construction points that will be useful in the next steps.

First, create a line between the gap, click Sketch / Line then Sketch / Point and create three points that follow the image.

Then, use the Trim command to delete the remaining line segment you've just created.

Step 6: Suddenly 3D

After cleaning up all the vectors, let's start bringing it to the 3D world...

Using the Create Form button you can go to a free form environment, and using the Pipe function create complex topologies based on the sketch curves we just produced.

The Pipe function has many parameters, I recommend you play and discover the possibilites, or you can just set it up as the pictures above. I choose the squared ends on End Types.

After selecting all the parameters and the sketch lines, just click on Finish Form. It will produce a new 3D body.

Step 7: Adding the Sphere Atoms

Adding the atoms is super easy.

There are three points we added early, those will be our reference coordinate points. Using the basic 3D forms under Create you can create a sphere by just selecting the center point and giving it a diameter. As you create the body it will be joined, intersected, or cut with existing bodies, or you can chose to make a new body. I chose a new body so at the end we will have four different bodies.

Step 8: Going Back to 2D

This step will show how to produce a 2D sketch from our 3D model so you can cut it on a laser cutter or water jet.

First, create a component, rename it then move all the bodies into this component.

Create a new Sketch and select the XZ plane.

Now, inside the sketch environment you can use the tool Sketch Project Cut Edges to project all the edges of our 3D object inside our 2D sketch. You just need to click on each body, then click on Stop Sketch. You can hide the component so you will see only the 2D sketch.

Step 9: Exporting a DXF From Fusion 360

Currently, there's no easy way to export a vector file from Fusion, but it seems like the next release in May or June 2014 will include a way to just right-click on your sketch and export it as DXF.

But there is a tricky way to to that with the current version.

You'll need to create a new component and move your Sketch to there.

Then, right click over your component on the Browser and Save Copy As, this will create a new Design based only on this component.

Go back to your dashboard, click in Tools over your new Design them export as DXF. When for your DXF file to appear on your dashboard, and download it!

You can use Inkscape or another tool for vector editing, and add some finishing touches before cutting it.

Step 10: Files for Cutting

Here are the source files

Step 11: Cutting on the Waterjet

Step 12: Laser Cutting

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    8 years ago

    Everyone seems to own a 3D printer but me! I'd love one but they seem like they might be a bit pricey? Either way your idea is wonderful, and who couldn't use some good serotonin during the winter!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Just wanted to mention that the easiest way to see serotonin 3D structure (as well as gazillion of other chemical compounds) is with the cool program called Avogadro, using File/Import/Fetch chemical structure.

    Avogadro is available for Linux/Mac/Windows at

    and it goes to network-based structure databases and retrieves atom positions by chemical name. There are several rendering styles besides the default stick-and-ball.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I knew jmol but didn't realize that you can also specify the names and SMILES/InChl/CAS ids of chemical compounds, via the File/Get MOL option.

    One word of warning: complex molecules from NIH sometimes come flattened--check out Insuline for instance. It turns out that they use some commercial database that puts limits on query time, so they decided to output Z=0 projection for large molecules.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    As a software tutorial it was well documented and easy to follow. But I was dissappointed that it is not an instructable for actually making something, like the necklace implied in the title. Do you plan an additional tutorial that takes the computer drawing to production?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I agree. I was totally stoked to think I was going to be able to see how to make it. I would love to see you post up how to make it!

    radames ajna
    radames ajna

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    hey guys, yes I didn't post how to go to a laser cutter or a industrial water jet. I'll update this inscrutables soon also I'm writing another one showing how to send it to an 3d printer.