Making the Holiday Season Merry and Bright with 3D Printing

Floating State Ornaments with Heart Cutout

While the official first day of winter isn’t actually until next Friday, December 21st, it’s certainly felt like winter here in southwest Ohio recently. For me, this means drinking hot chocolate, sleeping in flannel pajamas, donning mittens and a scarf every time I walk outside, scraping the frost off my windshield when I need to go somewhere, and asking my husband to spread pet-safe salt on the back porch steps so our elderly dog can get down to the yard to go to the bathroom without slipping and breaking his furry neck. But it also means hauling all of my Christmas decorations up from the basement and setting them out, as well as braving the crazy crowds at the mall to find the perfect Christmas gifts for everyone on my list.

Luckily, these last two – decorations and gifts – can be helped along through the use of 3D printing. If you have your own 3D printer at home, the best part of 3D printing during the holidays is not having to leave your house to take care of the essentials. Here at, we’re saving you the heavy lifting and compiling a list of holiday 3D prints to make from the comfort of your own home.

If you’re looking for the perfect festive decorations, there are many great 3D printable Christmas tree options out there, like this one from Cults3D user tanyaakinora or this version by Thingiverse user Tony_D, which prints without any supports. It also definitely wouldn’t be Christmas without some 3D printed ornaments; my favorites include this Christmas Ball by Cults3D user Luci, these Floating State Ornaments with Heart Cutout on Thingiverse by PenolopyBulnick, and this quick and simple 3D printable snowflake_04 found on MyMiniFactory.

“Printed in white PLA on highest quality setting using in Simplify3D, 10% infill,” wrote Rich Williams, who goes by Akronovation, about this last snowflake. “No supports required.”

Nativity scenes are also popular 3D printable decorations – check out this traditional set by MyMiniFactory user Stephen Bailey, or this more modern version, found on Thingiverse by user T-Maz and 3D printed at 70% infill.

Nativity Scene Modern

Advent calendars come in all shapes and sizes, and 3D printing makes it even easier to customize them. Case in point: this awesome Deathly Hallows Advent Calendar by Thingiverse user LoisG, who 3D printed the calendar on a Flashforge Creator Pro out of PLA Wood material.

“Due to the size I had to make the sides in 6 pieces and glue together,” LoisG wrote. “I used Gorilla Glue as the surface wasn’t flat enough to use Superglue.”

Deathly Hallows Advent Calendar

3D printing also helps when it comes to the more utilitarian aspects of the holiday season, like this Holiday Light Holder by Cults3D user BOLROD, these Christmas Tree Feet for a mini tree by Thingiverse user Almantle, and an ingenious Christmas Light Wreath Clip found on MyMiniFactory, created by user James DeRuvo.

“Had a few of the light clips on our Christmas wreath break this year,” DeRuvo wrote. “No idea where to buy them, so I whipped out my mobile phone, took a picture of the white one, converted it to a 3d model using Selva3d and Tinkercad, and five minutes later, I’m printing replacements! That’s what I what I love about 3D printing!”

It’s not Christmas without cookies, and what better way to make your dessert festive than by making some 3D printed cookie cutters?

MyMiniFactory user airin danielle shared this nice cookie snow flex cutter design, and TeamOlivia posted an variety of 3D printable designs in this Christmas Cookie Cutter Set, which includes Santa, a reindeer, a Christmas tree, and a present with a bow on top.

“All of them were designed so that they could be decorated very easily (if that is your preference) or have room for something more detailed,” TeamOlivia wrote.

Of course, it’s a big world out there, and not everyone celebrates Christmas. On Thingiverse, I found a Multi-Color Dreidel on MyMiniFactory by Mosaic Manufacturing and this Kinara – Kwanzaa Candle Holder by user Fargo3DPrinting.

“This is currently prone to tipping backwards, so some adjustments will be made in the future,” Fargo3DPrinting wrote about the holder. “It was designed to be printed flat on its “back.” Full size will fit 1/2″ tapered candles. Can be scaled to fit bigger or smaller candles.”

Kinara – Kwanzaa Candle Holder

Happy holidays, and as always, happy 3D printing!

Will you try making any of these holiday-themed 3D prints? Let us know! Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below.

3D Printing Used to Predict Behavior of Replacement Heart Valves

3D printing has been studied by several different institutions as a method for aiding in a process called transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR. More than one in eight people aged 75 and older in the United States develop moderate to severe blockage of the aortic valve, often caused by calcified deposits that build up on the valve’s leaflets and prevent them from fully opening and closing. Many of these patients are not healthy enough to undergo open heart surgery, so TAVR is an alternative that involves deploying an artificial valve via a catheter inserted into the aorta.

Inserting the properly sized valve is critical; if the valve is too small, it can dislodge or leak around the edges, and if it’s too large it can rip through the heart, which can be fatal. It’s a challenge to select the correct size without directly examining the patient’s heart, however. But researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have come up with a 3D printing workflow that creates models of individual patients’ aortic valves using CT scan data, in addition to a “sizer” device that helps cardiologists determine the proper valve size. The work is documented in a paper entitled “Pre-procedural fit-testing of TAVR valves using parametric modeling and 3D printing.” The research was carried out  in collaboration with researchers and physicians from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, The University of Washington, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces.

“If you buy a pair of shoes online without trying them on first, there’s a good chance they’re not going to fit properly. Sizing replacement TAVR valves poses a similar problem, in that doctors don’t get the opportunity to evaluate how a specific valve size will fit with a patient’s anatomy before surgery,” said James Weaver, Ph.D., a Senior Research Scientist at the Wyss Institute who is a corresponding author of the paper. “Our integrative 3D printing and valve sizing system provides a customized report of every patient’s unique aortic valve shape, removing a lot of the guesswork and helping each patient receive a more accurately sized valve.”

When a patient needs a new heart valve, they typically get a CT scan, but while the outer wall of the aorta and any calcified deposits are easily seen on a scan, the leaflets that open and close the valve are often too thin to show up clearly.

“After a 3D reconstruction of the heart anatomy is performed, it often looks like the calcified deposits are simply floating around inside the valve, providing little or no insight as to how a deployed TAVR valve would interact with them,” Dr. Weaver said.

To address this issue, Ahmed Hosny, who was a Research Fellow at the Wyss Institute at the time, created a software program that uses parametric modeling to generate virtual 3D models of the leaflets using seven coordinates on each patient’s valve that are visible on CT scans. The 3D models were then merged with the CT data and adjusted so that they fit into the valve correctly. The resulting model, which incorporates the leaflets and their calcified deposits, was then 3D printed in multiple materials.

The researchers also 3D printed a custom sizer device that fits inside the 3D printed valve and expands and contracts to determine what size artificial valve would best fit each patient. They then wrapped the sizer with a thin layer of pressure-sensing film to map the pressure between the sizer and the 3D-printed valves and their associated calcified deposits, while gradually expanding the sizer.

“We discovered that the size and the location of the calcified deposits on the leaflets have a big impact on how well an artificial valve will fit into a calcified one,” said Hosny, who is currently at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “Sometimes, there was just no way a TAVR valve would fully seal a calcified valve, and those patients could actually be better off getting open-heart surgery to obtain a better-fitting result.”

The multi-material 3D printed valve models could also more accurately mimic the behavior of real heart valves during artificial valve deployment, as well as provide haptic feedback as the sizer is expanded. The researchers tested the system against data from 30 patients who had already undergone TAVR procedures. 15 of those patients had developed leaks from too-small valves. The researchers predicted, based on how well the sizer fit into the 3D printed models of their aortic valves, what size valve each patient should have received, and whether they would experience leaks after the procedure. The system successfully predicted leak outcome in 60 to 73% of the patients, depending on the type of valve each patient had received, and determined that 60% of the patients had received the correctly sized valve.

“Being able to identify intermediate- and low-risk patients whose heart valve anatomy gives them a higher probability of complications from TAVR is critical, and we’ve never had a non-invasive way to accurately determine that before,” said co-author Beth Ripley, M.D., Ph.D, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiology at the University of Washington who was a Cardiovascular Imaging Fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital when the study was done. “Those patients might be better served by surgery, as the risks of an imperfect TAVR result might outweigh its benefits.”

The researchers have made their leaflet modeling software and 3D printing protocol available online for free.

“At the core of the personalized medicine challenge is the realization that one medical treatment will not serve all patients equally well, and that therapies should be tailored to the individual, said Wyss Institute Founding Director Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Med’ical School and the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, as well as Professor of Bioengineering at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. T’his principle applies to medical devices as well as drugs, and it is exciting to see how our community is innovating in this space and attempting to translate new personalized approaches from the lab and into the clinic.”

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below.

[Source/Images: Wyss Institute]


Australian Woman Receives 3D Printed Jaw Implant After Tumor Removal

Anelia often wore a mask to help deal with the self-consciousness of her initial jaw surgery.

3D printing continues to lead the medical field to new heights, and while this is a boon for scientists, surgeons, and progressive technology—patients are often the ones emerging as the real winners. Anelia Myburgh can attest to this as she was recently the recipient of a 3D printed jaw implant. And while so many implants today are responsible for improving the quality of life of patients, Myburgh was particularly grateful to have a chance for facial reconstruction.

A native of Melbourne, Australia, Myburgh lost much of the lower portion of her jaw and teeth when surgeons were forced to remove them due to a dangerous tumor (originally discovered when she began complaining of a small bump); in fact, 80 percent of her jaw area was removed due to the cancer doctors found within—leaving her with only a couple of teeth and a significantly disfigured face. They saved her life, but the tumor-removal surgery did not come without a physical and emotional toll also.

Myburgh was understandably self-conscious about being in public after the surgery removing the tumor. She was not alone in such struggles either as so many other cancer patients around the world who have had similar jaw surgery are left with challenges such as adapting to a new and often less attractive physical demeanor—along with having difficulty in chewing and eating.

“I just want to be able to walk down the street and not have people stare,” said Myburgh before the 3D printed jaw was implanted. “That is my ultimate goal.”

Medical professionals demonstrate how the 3D printed jaw will work.

Her greatest hope was that with the 3D printed implant, her countenance would be more normal once again, and the surgical team was confident beforehand.

“The fact that we can 3D print a frame where we can actually anchor some teeth back for her would give her back her quality of life,” said her maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. George Dimitroulis.

Many medical appointments were necessary with the surgical team before Myburgh went in to the operating room.

The surgery to implant the new 3D printed jaw and titanium frame took five hours and included taking extra skin from her forearm and diverting it to her lip area to help with normalizing her facial area again. Such a procedure would cost around $22,000 in US dollars. It was a huge success for Myburgh though, who now has a full set of new teeth and reconstructed lips. And while her bravery and beauty certainly shine from within, there is no denying that the 3D printed jaw allowed her to return to her former attractive self. Not only that, now she can enjoy the joy of cheeseburgers again!

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts; join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at

[Source / Images: 1NewsNow; Inside Edition]

Anelia sees her new face for the first time.

Trio Labs approaches MIM based binder jet 3D printing market

Trio Labs, a North Carolina-based start-up developing advanced manufacturing technology,  has introduced a new 3D printing method for high volume production. With the aim of fundamentally changing manufacturing, the company’s Resin Infused Powder Lithography (RIPL) process boasts components with the same performance characteristics as CNC machining and Metal Injection Molding (MIM) at a reduced cost. “Unlocking 3D […]

Wyss Institute applies “try before you buy” initiative to 3D printed heart valves

A team from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, Massachusetts, have created a 3D printing workflow to predict the performance of artificial heart valves. A kind of “try before your buy” approach, the researchers have created a software that simulates a valve’s reaction with a patient’s native tissue, and provides accurate […]

Eco-Friendly 3D Printing Using an Ecostruder, Recycled E-Waste and Solar Power

Electronic devices are a part of daily life for people across the world – laptops, smart phones, tablets, fitness bands, etc. They’re wonderful to have for many reasons, but none of these devices last forever, and when they’re discarded, they can do serious harm to the environment. Recycling programs are springing up that can refurbish and reuse some of the electronics in the devices, but what about all the plastic that left over? In a paper entitled “The Recycling of E-Waste ABS plastics by melt extrusion and 3D printing using solar powered devices as a transformative tool for humanitarian aid,” a group of researchers discusses how they took ABS plastics found in electronic waste and recycled them using 3D printing.

The researchers used waste plastics from discarded electronic devices within Deakin University‘s School of Engineering. These plastics included the outer casing from devices such as old computers, laptop docking stations and desktop telephones. They cleaned the plastic if needed and then broke it down into fragments and fed it into a hand operated granulation device, which was composed of a series of geared, interlocking teeth that could be rotated using a lever arm. The plastic underwent several phases of repeated grinding, after which it was put through a mesh sieve.

The researchers then created their own melt extrusion device, which they named the Ecostruder. The system uses a single screw system and is powered by an internally geared DC motor.

“To ensure that the screw operates at a constant RPM, an encoder is used to measure the rotational velocity, and which is feedback into a PID controller,” the researchers explain. “The screw is also coupled directly to the geared motor, which provides a simple and robust interface where auxiliary chains are not required. Three individually controlled 50W band heaters provide the ability vary the temperature distribution along the barrel, which in turn allows for control of how the fed waste plastic transitions from solid to the liquid phases.”

Once the filament was generated by the Ecostruder, it was 3D printed using a LulzBot Mini. To make the entire process even more eco-friendly, the researchers used a nanogrid system powered by solar energy, via portable photovoltaic (PV) panels.

“In an ideal scenario, the system which we aimed to create would have the capacity to operate solely from the use of the energy generated by the PV’s,” the researchers state. “This would not be realistic in real operational scenarios and so the aim was to create a dynamic system that could operate directly utilising the energy from the PV cells, and divert excess charge to the lithium-ion batteries. Conversely, in times when insufficient electricity is generated to power a respective device, charge from the battery system can be utilised to sustain operations.”

Tests were performed on the nanogrid system to evaluate its charge generation efficiency. Test 1 was performed on a cloudy day, and Test 2 on a sunny day. The average sustained power output was approximately 14W for test 1 and 210W for test 2. Future modifications of the system may include building larger banks of batteries to store excess charge during times of peak generation, for use on days when power generation is suboptimal.

To test the 3D printing performance of the system, the researchers took it to a location with clear exposure to the sun and 3D printed three different parts: a 20x20x20mm cube, a 30mm diameter and 30mm height cylinder and a lattice structure with a cube of 30x30x30mm. The test was completed in approximately 90 minutes, and the solar panels not only adequately powered the 3D printer but held an excess of energy.

“If we assume the same environmental conditions over a typical day of operation, which would comprise running the 3D printer for 8 hours and the Ecostruder for 2 hours, the generated excess energy would accommodate this usage whilst also charging the battery system by an additional 25Ah,” the researchers state.

Tests were also performed to evaluate the quality of the 3D printed recycled material. To do this, the researchers 3D printed a pipe connector. There were a few cosmetic surface defects, but the part was robust. The researchers used the printed part to join a section of piping, and tested it by blocking the end of one piece of tubing, pressurizing the system using a plumbing pressure testing device. The part held the water with no leakage up to a pressure of 5Bar. The results show that the recycled ABS can be used to 3D print functional parts.

Future studies aim to test the system in field conditions to assess its potential for humanitarian aid.

Authors of the paper include Mazher Iqbal Mohammed, Daniel Wilson, Eli Gomez-Kervin, Callum Vidler, Lucas Rosson and Johannes Long.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below.



12 Gifts for 12 Passionate Characters in Your Life

We all want to gift our loved ones with something thoughtful, delightful and useful this holiday season, but finding gifts that celebrate the uniqueness of each of the people in our lives can become a daunting task. No matter who you’re shopping for or what their interests may be, Shapeways has got you covered with thousands of inspired products from our community of independent designers. This week, we’ve curated 12 gift ideas for 12 passionate characters in your life to help you find something perfect for each individual on your list.

For Your Beloved

You’d bring them the moon if you could, so why don’t you?

Moon lamp by VFXguy's desktop toys

Moon lamp by VFXguy’s desktop toys

For Modish Musicians

Gift this gorgeous treble clef pendant to the diligent and debonair musician in your life.

Classic Treble Clef Pendant by Uveros

Classic Treble Clef Pendant by Uveros

For The Whiz Kid

Perfect for a brilliant kid with an interest in science, or for anyone who loves a party trick, The Wave is a balanced syphon which transfers water between glasses using the principles of physics.

Wave by OliveBird

Wave by OliveBird

For Workaholics and Desk Dwellers

Know someone who lives at their desk? Gift them Robbie the Robot Planter so they’ll always have a friend nearby. Grab a tiny succulent to plant inside and you have a two-in-one gift that brings a bit of greenery and freshness to their workspace.

Robbie the Robot Planter by XYZ Workshop

Robbie the Robot Planter by XYZ Workshop

For Stylish Statement-Makers

This incredible botanical choker necklace is a unique piece that the most stylish and bold fashionista on your list will absolutely love.

Botanical Choker Statement Necklace by Fabparlor

Botanical Choker Statement Necklace by Fabparlor

For World Travelers

Remind the globetrotter in your life of the places they’ve been or have yet to go with this stunning London cityscape ring.

London Ring - Best Seller Gift! by Wearable Cityscapes

London Ring – Best Seller Gift! by Wearable Cityscapes

For Stargazers

Tell your starry sweetie to keep shining bright and looking up to the sky with a constellation pendant.

Ursa Minor Necklace by Layers By Design

Ursa Minor Necklace by Layers By Design

We also love this celestial circles pendant, which echoes the shape of planetary orbits, and we think the stargazer in your life will, too!

Celestial Circles by Layers By Design

Celestial Circles by Layers By Design

Treat the Chef

Support your favorite home chef’s culinary creativity with this clever little egg cup for unshelled eggs (keep the shell on for food safety).

birdsnest-eggcup by studiogijs

birdsnest-eggcup by studiogijs

For Your Gym Buddy

More Kettlebell! Give your fitness pal this kettlebell keychain to keep them inspired and celebrate their hard work.

Crossfit Kettlebell Weight Pendant and Keychain by Amathing3D

Crossfit Kettlebell Weight Pendant and Keychain by Amathing3D

For Puzzlemasters

Brain games are perfect for holiday family-time fun! This 3D puzzle comes with interlocking pieces which fit together in hundreds of different ways to provide endless new challenges.

“SOMA’s Revenge” – Interlocking Puzzle Cube by Ethereal Maze Puzzles

Gag Gifts for Gigglers

Perfect for pranksters of all ages, this catapult gift takes “spitballing” to a whole new level.

Catapult by Jeewel

Catapult by Jeewel

For Inspired Creatives – give the gift of Shapeways

You can’t go wrong with a Shapeways giftcard that inspires and encourages creative minds to make their own 3D innovations.

Shapeways digital gift card

Shapeways digital gift card

Find all these and much more at the Shapeways Marketplace.

The post 12 Gifts for 12 Passionate Characters in Your Life appeared first on Shapeways Magazine.

Stratasys to 3D print spare parts on demand for Angel Trains

Angel Trains, a British rolling stock operator company (ROSCO), has partnered with Stratasys and ESG Rail, a Derby-based engineering consultant, to 3D print replacement parts for trains. Technical Director of Angel Trains, Mark Hicks, said, “We are proud to be driving this innovation with ESG Rail and Stratasys and hope that this solution will help to […]

Micro 3D printing mined for future 5G mobile connections

5G, the future of mobile communications, ultra-fast video streaming and autonomous car radar, is seeking precision 3D printing methods for its circuitry. In a University of Birmingham project set for completion at the end of 2018, two contenders from across the industry have been singled out as potential industrial partners for circuit production. Now, with a […]