3D printed snowflake

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Snowflake Machine Makes One Billion Unique Snowflake Patterns for 3D Printed Ornaments - 3DPrint.


I recently found a large pink-glittered snowflake decoration on the street that now graces my apartment door for the holiday season, and it reminded me about how miraculous snowflakes really are. Do you remember first learning as a child that no two snowflakes are the same? Now we can take that lesson one step further and talk about how no two 3D printed snowflakes decorations will ever be the same now that we have the amazing Snowflake Machine from Professor Laura Taalman, aka mathgrrl. We’ve covered the work of Dr. Taalman and her students before. Her latest design is flaky–but in the excellent sense of the word. She’s figured out how to combine an impressive knowledge of “random numbers, mathematical algorithms, computer code, and SCIENCE to create well over a billion unique and beautiful snowflakes.” Just take a moment to think about that…now let’s proceed.

The Machine does several things. It generates 3D printable snowflake patterns using a random number seed; it uses sliders to control your snowflake’s style in ten different ways; and it creates different sized snowflake decorations, like giant detailed snowflakes or micro-sized snowflakes (if you have an ultra-fine nozzle). Wow. Flaky indeed.

How does it work? Well, on the Snowflake Machine Thingiverse page, there’s a button that reads “Open in Customizer.” Click on that. Then choose your seed and style setting and click “Create Thing.” You have to wait a few minutes for snowflake magic to happen. Next, reload your List of Things until new snowflake designs appear. Now download and print your unique snowflakes.

Dr. Taalman wants to make sure you photograph and post these original designs so she’ll know when the one billionth original snowflake has been 3D printed. Okay, that’s not why, but if you were the one who made the Snowflake Machine, you’d want to see them all, right?

Now, I like to keep a little mystery going in my easy living among the more science and math-minded geeks. But you may want to know how this machine actually works: you know, what’s behind the scenes here? Well, Dr. Taalman is kind enough to explain it in layperson’s terms. Generally, the Machine generates patterns using an algorithm that mimics the way snowflakes grow in real life. You see, snowflakes begin their lives as hexagonal prism seeds growing outward with branches and plates. The placement and size of these branches are determined by atmospheric temperature and humidity. If you think about it, the reason no two snowflakes are ever the same is that each moment of a snowflake’s crystallization is an original moment in the atmosphere for the particles and environmental factors that are combining. This creates something miraculously unique. Again. Pause. Wow.

Dr. Taalman goes on to explain:

“To mimic this process, the OpenSCAD code behind the Snowflake Machine generates sequences of random numbers based on a random seed that you select, and then grows a snowflake design by adding branches or plates in each step. The random number sequences and the style parameters whose values you select with the Customizer sliders act like the temperature and humidity of the air around the snowflake, making it more or less likely that different formations will be generated.

That actually makes sense, too! We learn something new every day, huh?

Now that we are all caught up on the science of snowflake formation, isn’t it about time you fire up your printer, open up your Thingiverse Customizers, and start generating those snowflake patterns for everyone to enjoy this holiday season? I think these would look cool just hanging around any time of the year.  Discuss this story in the 3D Printed Snowflake forum thread on 3DPB.com.


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Tagged with: 3d printed holiday gifts • 3d printed ornaments • 3d printed snowflakes • Laura Taalman • mathgrrl • Snowflake Machine • thingiverse

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3D printed Christmas decorations (+ video)

Checkers with candies

There is always something to do during the holidays - spend time with family, eat traditional dishes, unpack gifts, watch movies or play games in games. Board games are often given away for the new year, and Giuseppe Finizia's 3D-printed candy checkers are a great option. You only need to 3D print the checkers themselves, and then put small candies into them, for example, Smarties, M&Ms, Skittles. The developer himself used a Zortrax M200 3D printer, but any such personal model should work. 3D printing does not require support elements.

Snowflakes in various shapes

Traditional Christmas snowflakes can also be transformed with a project by Laura Talman, aka mathgrrl. She developed the Snowflake Machine program, which automatically generates unique snowflakes based on mathematical algorithms, code, and some variable parameters. Talman's Thingiverse page features over 45 types of snowflakes created with the Snowflake Machine. Simply install the program to get access to an almost unlimited number of unique snowflakes.

Cookie molds

Any cookie will benefit from interesting shapes, especially during the holiday season. Moreover, thanks to innovations, there is no need to storm stores - with the help of 3D printing, you can make any cookie shapes at home. In addition to their own models, there are many interesting free options available on the Internet, among them are bells, Santa Claus and reindeer from OogiMe. The already mentioned Snowflake Machine by Laura Talman has also been redesigned for 3D printing cookie cutters, thanks to Matthias Peschek. Cookies in the form of different snowflakes will definitely decorate a festive dinner.

Movable Christmas toys

bqLabs cute toys - reindeer, Santa Claus and elves - not only print as a single unit, but also feature moving arms and legs. Support elements are needed during the 3D printing process, but the developer notes that they are easy to remove by simply pulling. These adorable toys can be further painted and finished to enhance the festive effect.

Santa Claus reindeer

A couple of years ago, Canadian 3D designer Yeg3D published a free model of a holiday deer. The figurine printed on a 3D printer is worthy of serving as a Christmas decoration in itself, but if desired, it can be painted, as the author did. In addition, the deer can be decorated with bows, bells and any other traditional accessories - it will definitely become a favorite of the whole family.

Christmas tree-snowflake

This project combines two main themes: at first glance, the 3D printed decoration looks like an ordinary Christmas tree, but from below you can see an unusual snowflake. The 3D model can be downloaded for free from Genapart's author page on Thingiverse. The author presented four options for decoration: with and without a hole for hanging, curved and straight wood. Several users of the site have already reported that they have successfully printed an unusual Christmas tree.

Minimalist decorations

Thingiverse user Marten Curver has presented stylish, minimalist 3D printed Christmas decorations. The author notes that to create one ball, you need to print the main files eight times, and the top and bottom once. These pieces can be assembled into a piece of jewelry by gluing them together or connecting them with a 3D printing pen, as Curver did. The range of decorations is amazing - it's easy to imagine how beautiful such a Christmas tree will be.

Christmas Reindeer Card

One of the more interesting postcards is the version with the deer head model kit included. A flat postcard can be put into any envelope, and the details of the model are easily separated from the sheet and assembled according to the instructions. Of course, given that the model is flat, you may need to change the 3D printing settings. Model designer Tony Short suggests printing at 100% infill and 0.2mm resolution, printing the bottom layer slower than usual. In addition to 3D printing models, Short included files to create a postcard using laser cutting.

Small holiday lamps

It is difficult to imagine the New Year without festive lighting. One example is small lamps that can be 3D printed. They will also require a CR2032 battery, a 5mm LED, a switch and a soldering iron to assemble. Following simple instructions, you can assemble a glowing base, which includes several 3D printed parts. The finished base can be combined with several 3D-printed “caps”, including a snowman, a Christmas tree and a candle. Of course, everyone can create their own versions of the top of the lamp.

Glass Christmas Tree

Glass 3D printing startup MICRON3DP decided to showcase its achievements with a Christmas tree model created by Russ Taber. Of course, making a glass Christmas tree on a personal 3D printer will not work, but you can make a copy of an unusual plastic decoration. You need to print the Christmas tree without the bottom layer so that you can add a lamp.

We wish you all happy, interesting and creative holidays!

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