The First Snowfall Ornament: a Poetic Sphere

In tackling the White House 3D Printed Ornament Challenge we focused on creating a design that not only highlighted the joy of winter and the American maker spirit, but was also achievable using our home 3D printer.

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Step 1: Prepare the Text and Graphics

We started with the first stanza of the poem The First Snowfall by the American poet, James Russell Lowell (1819-1891). We centered the four lines of text and added some snowflake clipart in Powerpoint. The slide was then saved as an image.

Step 2: Time for MATLAB Coding!

We then imported the image into MATLAB for further processing. Our goal was to warp the image onto a sphere with the words and snowflakes recessed into the sphere's surface.

Step 3: Apply a Little Image Processing Magic

To make the text and graphics gradually sink into the volume, which helps prevent overhangs and improves printability, we applied a Euclidean distance transform using bwdist

Step 4: Map Image Onto a Sphere

The image was mapped to a sphere using the spheresurf function. Finally, we saved the surface as a .obj file.

Step 5: Mix & Slice

The .obj file was imported into Meshmixer where we added a loop for hanging and prepared the .stl files.

We sliced the .stl model using Sli3r with 0.2-mm layers and printed the design with our Printerbot Simple using red PLA filament. The ornament is printed as two hemispheres that can be glued together. Stick a LED throwie (sans magnet) inside for a little glow.

3D Printed Ornament Design Challenge

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3D Printed Ornament Design Challenge

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Make it Glow!

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