Intro: Modular Star Tree Topper
"So you can print out slightly detailed plastic toys and containers. What is 3D printing good for?"
This is a project I started last year and finally finished it up in time for the holidays. If you are a 3D printer this is a great way to justify your hobby to your family. You have to do something every once in a while that will convince them that the cost of filament and new printer parts is actually worth it.
This design is pretty easy to print and should work on most printers in most materials. It has generous tolerances and nice flat bottoms for sticking to the bed. The individual pieces are pretty fast too. The base takes the longest time. I think it was about 4 hours when I did it, but you can probably go faster on your printer.
This object requires no glue or screws. The the front screws onto the back clamping everything in place.
Step 1: Prepare the Design
If you just want to print the thing and move on you can skip to the next step. If you're interested in customizing, read on.
I designed this a long time ago in 123Design. In order to do some updates I wanted to transfer the design into Fusion 360. There wasn't a direct way to do this from the application. I say "wasn't" because they update Fusion all the time and this feature may have already been added.
Someone, I can't remember who now, showed a way to workaround this lack of feature.
1. Change the 123Design file's extension to ".zip" (Windows will complain about this, but accept the change)
2. Open the zip folder and navigate to "Fusion[Active]/Breps.BlobParts"
3. In that folder there is a file named something like " BREP0.smt". Change the extension of this file to ".sat"
4. Now you can open Fusion360, go to the data panel and click upload.
5. Just upload the .sat file then open it. You'll find the part you designed broken nicely up into bodies.
I have no idea why this works or why they haven't rolled this into Fusion yet (maybe they have, I'm sure the internet will soon tell me if I'm wrong).
Anyway, doing this allowed me to create the assembly animation you'll see in a future step. I've attached both the original 123D file and the converted .sat file for Fusion.
Step 2: 3D Printing
Print these parts. You need to do three of the big legs and four little legs.
None of the parts need supports or a raft. They are pretty forgiving, so why not see how fast you can print them?
Step 3: Clean Up and Put Them Together
Clean off any brims or strands your print produced. Then just fit the pieces together.
Make sure to put the base into the correct slot. There is one slot that is slightly closer to the center. That's where the base needs to go to make everything else work.
If for some reason your print won't screw together, you can just stick the pieces together with a little hot glue. You'll still be able to disassemble it for storage afterward. Maybe you can stick an LED in the hole and make it a glowing star?
Step 4: Options
Most printer materials will accept paint just fine. I think we might try painting ours metallic gold.
If you have 7 kids you could let each one decorate a point of the star. With paint and glitter. I'm sure it would turn out pretty classy.
If you want a different looking star or maybe more of a snowflake you could use 123Design to make your own point modules. Perhaps you want to make flower petals so you could reuse this in the spring. Maybe you want a different base to make this a hanging ornament.
The design file is included on the Thing page and on this instructable.
Now stick it on your tree and have a Merry Christmas!