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3D Printing Holiday Ornaments

How to 3D Print Ornaments / / Custom Holiday Ornament


In the spirit of the holiday season, the Fathom team wanted to create a custom tree ornament for our customers. Ava DeCapri, industrial designer at Fathom, was up for the challenge. Learn more about this beautiful 3D printed ornament in the blog then be sure to download the .STL files and instructional guide.  We hope you 3D print one of your own and if you do, be sure to share a picture with us on our Facebook page. Seasons greeting!

INSPIRATION FOR 3D PRINTING A WHITE CHRISTMAS By Ava DeCapri, Industrial Designer at Fathom

In thinking back to decorating the Christmas tree as a child, the most intricate and detailed ornament was always the most coveted. My favorite was a teddy bear that held a present. Inside the present was a small toy. The detail and surprise aspect of this ornament created a feeling of enchantment that I can only associate with the holiday season. I wanted to design an ornament that would evoke this feeling of wonder and amazement that I experienced with my favorite ornaments as a child.



The form of the ornament is based on a zoetrope, a pre-cinema animation device that created the illusion of movement by spinning. The inspiration for the images came from nature and the magic of the winter season. I created original artwork for the birch trees that create the outer ring of the ornament. See the sketch below.

The inner ring is a painting by Agnes Tait titled Skating in Central Park (see below, credit: Smithsonian). The user inserts a single Christmas light into the hole in the top of the ornament. The image is then viewable from the outside. This is achievable with the height field image displacement command in Rhino. One can spin the inner ring to see more of the image. The trees on the outer ring partially hide the image in the core, giving the inner image, seen through the trees, a sense of mystery and awe.


3D Printed Ornament 2014 CAD Example

We chose to 3D print the ornament on the Objet500 Connex3 3D printer in an opaque, rigid white material called as VeroWhite because of its ability to achieve fine detail. The design is broken up into several bodies that can be merged together in CAD. It is built this way so that anyone can customize each aspect of the ornament to be uniquely their own. In my design I chose to create two different surface details, perforations and height-field image mapping. I have outlined the steps to create both effects on the provided blank ornament below.


The biggest challenge we had in creating the ornament for 3D printing was getting the image displacement mapping to a closed, printable state. When creating a height-field from an image, the surface gets translated into a mesh. Closing off a mesh in rhino is tricky, but not impossible and usually requires some fixing in Magics or any other CAD software.

In the case of our image displacement, we had some difficulties getting a closed mesh object—meaning that all the surfaces are connected and the object is water tight, crucial to printing—but were able to close the mesh in the CAD software, Magics.

The most unique thing about this ornament that I hope you enjoy is the ability to customize your own design! In the bigger picture of possibility for designers and engineers, so much can be created using 3D printing and additive manufacturing, especially in assemblies like incorporate legacy manufacturing methods. From concepts models and  functional prototypes to manufacturing tools and end-use productions parts, engineers and designers can truly make the unmakeable.

Get the Instructions on How to Customize the Ornament // Download

Get STL Files for Ornament and Get to 3D Printing / / Download

Dont have a 3D printer? After youve customized the ornament design, 3D printing is as easy as 1-2-3 using Fathom’s online portal for 3D printing quotes and orders. SmartQuote is a specialized online platform that provides users with quick and easy access to 3D printing services for prototyping and low volume production. Fathom utilizes the most advanced technologies and materials to help companies innovate new products faster and more efficiently.

Join or Register Today on SmartQuote / / Click-to-Print

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