The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

November 29, 2011

Fun with Rockets and Lasers: Creating a 3D Do-It-Yourself Christmas Ornament (Some Assembly Required)

Filed under: Design — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 9:42 pm

In my extended family, there’s been a longstanding tradition that we have an ornament exchange which takes place at Thanksgiving each year.  Although the ornaments that come up in the exchange each year range from the mundane to the sublime,  there are a lot of crafty people in the family, which means that store-bought ornaments tend to get a bit outclassed.  Over the years, I’ve gone mostly with the store-bought stuff anyway, with a couple of ill-advised attempts at handmade ornaments thrown in for good measure as well.  I actually kind of enjoy making ornaments myself, although to be honest, when I try to make stuff by hand, usually the results don’t quite add up to what I originally had in mind.  To give you some idea of this, I tend to consider a craft project to be successful if nothing got set on fire or maimed during the process.

It is because of this tendency that last year, I decided to take a different approach to the problem.  As outlined in the post that I wrote about last year’s ornaments, I found a place over on Capitol Hill in Seattle called Metrix Create:Space that has all sorts of cool toys like 3D printers and laser cutters.  Although I’m pretty sure the 3D printers are a bit out of my league for the time being (at least until I manage to get some idea what the heck I’m doing when it comes to 3D modeling) I found that through a combination of open source tools and following instructions found in several FAQs posted on the Internet, creating a design that would work with the laser cutter proved to be a lot less daunting task than it might sound.  The ornaments which resulted from this project turned out very nice, and were very well received.  The only real problem I had with these ornaments was the fact that they ended up being far more expensive than I had originally planned on.  In fact, I think I spent about twice as much on the project as I had originally budgeted, and given the costs of laser cutting, I had planned on quite a bit.

As a result of this, although the tools for this year’s ornaments were pretty much the same as last years, the approach taken to the project was quite different, as was the end result.  After the jump, you’ll find a description of the process used to create my ornaments for this year’s family Thanksgiving ornament exchange.

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