Floating Snowflake Ornament

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About: Instructables Community Manager - I am powered by sugar and rainbows! For realz!

While printing off some Christmas ornaments, my husband suggested printing a snowflake separate and adding it mid print to another piece to make one ornament in two colors. I, of course, had to go for it and the result is a simple snowflake that appears to be floating inside a silver ornament. It's all done with the printing on tulle trick.

Etsy

You can buy these floating snowflake ornaments (and the two other ornaments I mention in the last step) in my Etsy Store.

Instructable 294

Step 1: Supplies

Supplies:

  • 3D Printer - I use a Prusa MK3
  • 2 Colors of Filament - I'm using White and Silver because it works with my design
  • Black Tulle Fabric - if you have a light Christmas tree, you can try a different color, the goal is that the tulle disappears into the background
  • Painters Tape - I recommend this over other tapes because it's meant to come back off
  • Ornament Hooks
  • Exacto Knife - scissors might work, but I think an Exacto knife is going to give you the closest cut

Step 2: Design

Design or choose any snowflake you want. I used the snowflake design I used for my snowflake earrings.

From there all you need is a circle and a loop. I decided on the size I wanted (3" diameter) and scaled everything to fit. You want the snowflake to fit within the circle with some space around it (so it can float).

The most important part here is thickness. If it is too thick it will hit the extruder during printing. The Prusa had about 1mm clearance for me to work with. Since I would be adding my design halfway through, that meant my inner piece (the snowflake) could be no more than 2mm thick so I went with that (I actually did 2.1mm to get an even number of layers - it ended up being 10 layers).

Even though the inner piece can only be 2mm, the ring could be thicker, but I decided to keep things simple and went with 2mm for the border thickness as well. If you are worried about clearance, I would say to try to use a thicker border.

Step 3: Slicing - Preparing the Prints

Time to prep your designs for printing! This is very important.

You will have two separate prints.

I'm using Simplify 3D but all you really need to be able to do for this print is get it to Pause at a certain layer and move the extruder head out of the way so you can put down the tulle.

Another very important thing to keep in mind here is a skirt. I like to use it when I use tulle (both so it can wipe any filament that has oozed and to help hold the tulle in place) but you can't use it for both prints.

For my print, I had some issues with filling in so I decreased my Outline/Perimeter Shells to 1.

Lastly, make sure you put the print somewhere on the bed it will be the easiest to add the tulle. So, not too close to the HOME point or too close to an edge.

Pause script:

{REPLACE "; layer 6," "G28 Y0 X0\nM0\n; layer 6,"}

Snowflake:

All you need is a pause halfway through the print and to leave out the skirt. I repeat, NO SKIRT.

Border:

You again need a pause halfway through the print. Here you can use a skirt. It isn't 100% necessary or anything, but if you want to use one, this is when you can.

If you can, look at the way the extruder moves around the print. You don't want the extruder going across the center. It looks like it should be good to go, but I also checked the Travel Moves and checked to have it Avoid Crossing Outline for Travel Moves to see if that will help.

Step 4: Printing - Adding the Tulle

Like I mentioned, this will be done with 2 prints. The first should be easy, the second you have to be paying attention.

Snowflake:

Start your snowflake print and be ready to add the tulle when you reach the pause point.

If you can, try to stop any filament from oozing onto the snowflake after the pause (because you won't have a skirt to catch it).

Once it's done, take it off and set it aside.

Step 5: Adding the Tulle Part 2

Border (+adding snowflake):

Start your border print.

When it comes to the pause, carefully line the snowflake up inside the ornament border and tape it down.

Start the print back up and make sure it doesn't slam into the snowflake. Let it go for at least one layer before leaving it (or stick around and make sure it doesn't destroy your printer).

Step 6: Carefully Cut It Out and You Are Done!!

Time to carefully cut it out. The tulle is fragile, so be careful you don't poke it (I ruined a couple this way, it is so easy to accidentally cut it).

I got the best cut by carefully holding the Exacto so the flat edge was against the ornament edge and carefully (can't say that enough) drag the exact so it cuts as close to the outline as possible. Go all the way around and remember to cut out the tulle from the loop too.

Step 7: More Photos + More Designs

Here are some more photos of this ornament and 2 others that are printed without tulle.

If you are interested in them, I printed them using color changes to get the snowflakes a different color.

Remember that the tulle ornament can be fragile. Don't let the tree or other ornaments stab into the tulle and tear it.

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    9 Discussions

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    attosa

    5 days ago

    I love the use of tulle here! I was thinking of getting a 3D printer. Is it easy to learn? I have zero knowledge :o

    4 replies
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    Penolopy Bulnickattosa

    Reply 5 days ago

    Thank you :)
    Hmm, for me personally, it helps if you have someone to learn from. My husband showed me how to get started on the printer and then once you know the basics it's easier to go from there. But really, as long as you read directions or watch tutorials online, I think you can definitely get it. If you mean using the printer itself.
    As for creating 3D designs, also definitely ;) There are so many different programs that cater to different skill levels. I use Tinkercad which I think is really easy to use (I was hesitant when I first tried and kept getting frustrated, but with everything, it's all about sticking with it).
    I mean, just like anyone else, I had no knowledge going into 3D printing and actually initially had no interest. But once my husband got a printer I thought, well, since it's here it doesn't hurt to try and it has just snowballed from there :D

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    attosaPenolopy Bulnick

    Reply 5 days ago

    Thanks for the insight! Unfortunately, I don't know anyone who uses one that uses one... but good tip on watching YouTube. I think I'll browse a bunch of videos before I jump into getting one. You do SUCH a great job with yours. Always in awe :)

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    Penolopy Bulnickattosa

    Reply 5 days ago

    Thank you again :) and yeah it's good to do research. There are so many printers out there at different price points. My husband is the researcher in my family and picked out the two printers we eventually ended up with (one first then the other was a gift for me a while later).
    The Creality CR10 was our first one and is good but I think it's better for someone who knows how to fiddle and maintain them. I don't think I could handle it on my own.
    The Prusa MK3 is the new one that I use all the time and it's really nice. It's at a much higher price point but you can save money if you get the kit and assemble it yourself (which my husband did).
    Things to take into consideration is if it needs to be assembled and you feel you can assemble it, what people say about maintaining it (if will take a lot fiddling down the road or if it's a use right out of the box and you'll always be good to go type of thing), and what filament it takes (probably want 1.75mm and PLA, the more filaments it can take the better, but PLA is the most basic and easiest to get ABS I've heard is nice but I don't want to get into fiddling with it). Oh one thing that is important for me is ease of changing filament. The Creality is physically hard to change it and the Prusa it's super super easy. That's something you might not think about while shopping but once you start printing, you certainly think about it.
    Again, I'm no expert, but these are things at least I think are worth thinking about. You really gotta watch videos of people using and reviewing them, but first find prices and find ones in the range you want and go from there. It's no fun to find an awesome printer and then find out it costs thousands of dollars :P

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    attosaPenolopy Bulnick

    Reply 2 days ago

    Penolopy, you are a doll for all the information. I would much rather lean towards an ease of use that costs more. Doing my homework as we speak! I bet there must be some Instructables on how to start doing this, too? Thanks soooo much for your time and help!