DGST 201

Jennifer Hill

3D Print My World —

Every December at the Digital Knowledge Center (DKC), we decorate the office and our holiday tree. Of course, we have the usual bobbles and fairy lights adorning our tree, but there always seemed to be something missing. The first year I worked at the DKC, I 3D printed a miniature menorah and a Christmas ornament. While searching for other ornaments for our tree, I noticed a distinct lack of prints for non-Christmas holidays like Kwanzaa, Diwali, and the Winter Solstice. I was extremely disappointed and I decided that someday I would create prints to fill these gaps. A few years have passed since that experience, and I am happy to report that Kwanzaa now has a few decorations available to print on Thingiverse. However, the other holidays are still severely underrepresented. Thus, I decided that for my 3D print project I was going to make prints for Kwanzaa (for the sake of more options), Diwali, the Winter Solstice, and Las Posadas (more on this later). 



Kwanzaa ornament.

Before I began designing my Kwanzaa ornament, I decided that I must take some time to do thorough research on the traditions and design features of it. I began by watching these two YouTube videos to give me a full overview of this holiday. These videos specifically inspired me to make the kinara, the candle holder used in Kwanzaa celebrations, the centerpiece of the ornament. I went onto the Noun Project and was able to find this kinara that was an ideal hole in my ornament. 

I also decided to look at the greeting cards below for inspiration. These greeting cards encouraged me to use the Teletoon Lowercase V2 font on the ornament as it has character and resembles the fonts below. Choosing to use a non-Tinkercad font meant discovering how to use the Custom Font Text generator on Tinkercad. This was a challenge for me as I had never worked with this side of Font Squirrel before. However, it opened up a lot more possibilities for my design and I ended up using the custom font generator for all of my prints (except the Winter Solstice ornament). 

After adding the kinara and text, I believed I was ready to 3D print my ornament. Before I did this, I asked my close co-worker if they could give me feedback on my designs. She said that it seemed too plain and that there needed to be another element to make it more interesting. Therefore, I went onto the Noun Project and found this nice decorative circle to add to the print. Once I had added the finishing touches to my print, I had to decide what color to print it. I had chosen to print the ornament green, which represents the future and hope that comes from their struggle, but the ThinkLab had run out of green filament. Hence, I chose to print it in black, which represents the people. Printing it in black did make the text hard to read, but my brilliant co-worker recommended coloring the popup text with a bronze sharpie. This genius idea, of course, worked and gave the letters a gold-foil look. 



Diwali ornament.

Once again, I decided to watch a brief video about the holiday before designing an ornament for it. So, I found this interesting video about Diwali and was particularly moved by the rangoli, or patterns created on the floor using materials like colored rice, flour, or sand. I once more went to the Noun Project and found this excellent rangoli that I slightly engraved into the print. I also found a Diwali greeting card that motivated me to use the Amita font on my print. Including this font on my 3D print involved using the Custom Font Text generator as I did on my Kwanzaa print. I did run into some issues with this font and making the text a hole as the letters were not connected to the surrounding print mass. Meaning, that parts of the letter would have fallen off if I had not added squares to connect the hanging portions to the rest of it. After fixing the letters, I chose to print the ornament in a nice fuchsia pink or light purple as that was a color choice I saw in a lot of the Diwali greeting cards I studied.

Winter Solstice


Winter solstice ornament.

As the celebration of the Winter Solstice spans multiple beliefs and faiths, I decided to concentrate on the holiday as a festival about the sun. After watching the two videos below for research, I found this nice sun on the Noun Project. I ended up duplicating it on Tinkercad and rotating it to make the sun appear more filled out. Something I learned from the videos was the importance of making and sharing wreaths during the Winter Solstice. Consequently, I searched on the Noun Project and discovered this simple wreath that could act as a hole decoration on my print. While researching greeting cards for visual standards, I found that most Winter Solstice greeting cards use a simple serif font. With this in mind, I chose to use a preset font on Tinkercad that matched this aesthetic and could represent a diversity of cultures that celebrate the Winter Solstice. I also decided to print the ornament in gold filament as it is one of the colors of the holiday and emphasizes the holiday’s connection to the sun. 

Las Posadas


Feliz Navidad ornament.

The last holiday I wanted to create an ornament for is Las Posadas. When I began researching holidays to make ornaments for, I read this article by HerCampus which briefly summarizes holidays besides Christmas. On this list was Las Posadas, which at that time was a holiday I was unfamiliar with. Upon further research, I discovered that Las Posadas was not a separate holiday from Christmas, but more of a culturally dependent festivity associated with Christmas. Meaning, one wouldn’t wish someone a “Happy Las Posadas!” as they would more likely say “Feliz Navidad!”

After acknowledging my gaps in knowledge, I was determined to learn more about Las Posadas and the Latino and Spanish style of celebrating Christmas. So, I found these two YouTube videos and watched them for design inspiration. As Las Posadas mainly involves recreating Mary and Joseph’s journey to the manger, I chose to make the manger the main shape of my ornament. On the Noun Project, I found this excellent stable and edited out the figures of it. Initially in my design, I included a poinsettia in the background of the manager as it is a symbolic flower for the festivity. Unfortunately, the fact that it was a poinsettia was not conveyed and my co-worker advised that I get rid of it to keep the design interesting and effective. While researching, I did find one Las Posadas greeting card. This greeting card was very stylized and moved me to use a flowing script font in my design. This led me to use the Qumpellkano12 font I found on Font Squirrel. The Custom Font Generator was useful again for adding the text to my print. Like with the Diwali print, I had to add a lot of squares to attach the details of letters to the whole mass of the print. This was tedious but ensured that my letters had definition and were more legible. When it came time to print my ornament, I decided to use the red filament as that was the prominent color choice for Feliz Navidad greeting cards. 


I found this project an excellent way to experiment with a lot of different skills in 3D printing. In this project, I mainly wanted to experiment with holes that could let in the Christmas tree lights and shapes that are slightly engraved into the prints. Getting these holes and semi-engravings was hard and required grouping a lot of shapes together to bridge gaps. In fact, one regret I have is that I didn’t do the Feliz Navidad letter grouping as well as I could have. I usually find it easy to work with Tinkercad, but sometimes it can be very frustrating to get the groupings correct and pristine. However, I think I did a good job representing the holiday or celebration with simple, but eye-catching shape combinations. This 3D print project also allowed me to get acquainted with the latest 3D printing software, Dremel DigiLab 3D Slicer. Last time I was frequently doing 3D printing we were using Autodesk Print Studio. Needless to say, Dremel DigiLab 3D Slicer is a nice, refreshing upgrade.

This project has meant a lot to me as representation is an issue I am passionate about. I recognize that it may be problematic that I am a white woman making 3D prints for holidays that I do not celebrate. I hope to overcome this inherent bias by being open to any feedback to my 3D print designs. This project has been very educational and has allowed me to design objects that are important to me and others.

Categorised as: 3D Printing

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