My 3D printed ornament for the first ever White House 3D Printed Ornament challenge is named 86 Shooting Stars and is dedicated to every American life lost to gun violence.
On July 5th 2013, a Friday after independence day, at around 2 in the afternoon, I was walking down the street when a man started shooting at a pregnant woman one block away from my house and I got hit by a stray bullet. Had I not taken the day off from working at NYU Tisch ITP, where I teach animation, soft circuits and 3D printing, I would not have been an innocent bystander of a shooting. When I heard about the White House 3D printing challenge, I immediately wanted to share my experience as both an an American survivor of gun violence and also as a creative technologist.
The ornament I created, 86 Shooting Stars, represent a convergence of my worlds. The gun shape represents the abilities of the 3D printer as a tool for giving people access to weapons, regardless of their background. The shape is riddled by 86 holes in the shape of stars, representing the 86 Americans killed by gun violence each day.
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Step 1: Step 1: Create the Gun Shape
I chose the 1911 handgun shape because of its popularity and also because of its history as the standard-issue sidearm for the United States Armed Forces from 1911 to 1985.
I found a blueprint online, which was quite easy to find, and used the pen tool to create a vector of its outline. I exported the shape out as an Autocad Drawing (DWG) file and was able to import it into Rhino.
In Rhino, I used the ExtrudeCrv tool to create a 3D object from a 2D drawing.
Step 2: Step 2: Adding Stars on the Gun's Surface
After tweaking the 3D gun model, I unrolled it using UnrollSrf to make a flat version of the 3D gun and saved it as a 2D DWG in Rhino to send it back to Illustrator. In Illustrator, I placed the 86 stars in various sizes inside the surfaces of the gun. I then returned this back into Rhino, where I was able to re-place the stars on the appropriate surfaces of the 3D gun using FlowAlongSrf. I then turned all the stars into holes inside the gun using a series of Rhino Boolean operations.
Step 3: Step 3: Fixing Edges and Turning NURBS to Meshes
The gun ornament was almost ready, but during the UnrollSrf and FlowAlongSrf process I had to Explode the 3D gun into multiple surfaces. I went back and rejoined the surfaces using the JoinEdge command. The ShowEdge command with the Show Naked Edges option turned on really helped with this process. Finally, when I was happy with the result, I added thickness using Offset so the gun would be printable, and then converted the surfaces into a Mesh.
Step 4: Step 4: Final Prototype
I exported the finished gun ornament as an STL file and printed it on a Makerbot Replicator 2. The best results were using rafters, supports, 15% infill, 2 shells and a layer height of 0.20 MM.
I scaled it down to 50mms wide in order to print faster. If it were printed larger, I would be able to reach into the ornament and break off the inside supports to accentuate the holes created by the 86 stars.
86 Shooting Stars is dedicated to every life we lost to gun violence. I was lucky enough to not be one of them. I dream of a day when it would be possible to bring the ones we love and lost back using these technologies. As a survivor of gun violence, I know the pain of a bullet penetrating my chest and I wouldn't wish that feeling on even my worst enemies. But as a creative technologist, I am also fearful of the loss of my right to create things. I hope that this project sparks a long-needed conversation in the White House regarding the 3D printer as a possible tool for creating weapons.