Have Yourself a Recursive Little Christmas: Ornament That Prints Ornaments

Sure there are the occasional functional Christmas tree ornaments; we had one that plugged into the lights and was supposed to sound like a bird gently trilling its song, but was in fact so eardrum-piercing that we were forbidden from using it. But in general, ornaments are just supposed to be for looks, right? Not so fast — this 3D-printed ornament has a 3D-printer inside that prints other ornaments. One day it might just be the must-have in functional Christmas decor.

Given that [Sean Hodgins] had only a few days to work on this tree-dwelling 3D-printer, the questionable print quality and tiny print volume can be overlooked. But the fact that he got this working at all is quite a feat. We were initially surprised that he chose to build a stereolithography (SLA) printer rather than the more common fused deposition modeling (FDM) printer, but it makes sense. SLA only requires movement in the Z-axis, provided in this case by the guts of an old DVD drive. The build platform moves in and out of a tiny resin tank, the base of which has a small LCD screen whose backlight has been replaced by a bunch of UV LEDs. A Feather M0 controls the build stage height and displays pre-sliced bitmaps on the LCD, curing the resin in the tank a slice at a time.

Results were mixed, with the tiny snowflake being the best of the bunch. For a rush job, though, and one that competed with collaborating on a package-theft deterring glitter-bomb, it’s pretty impressive. Here’s hoping that this turns into a full-sized SLA build like [Sean] promises.

Thanks to [Adam] for the tip.

10 thoughts on “Have Yourself a Recursive Little Christmas: Ornament That Prints Ornaments

  1. okay… I did not see this one coming.
    The idea of a printer this small with the intention of hanging it in a xmas tree is ludicrous… I LOVE IT!
    Some design ideas are interesting, interesting material and food for thought.
    Thanks for posting.

  2. My favorite part: He shows (at least some of) the failures and mistakes along the way. It’s an ambitious little project, doesn’t work perfectly the first time, and that’s fine and awesome.

  3. I have to admit since the Mark Rober video you’ve learned to play the youtube thumbnail and title game well. You even has red arrows in the thumbnail!

    It’s crazy how it’s almost a mandatory staple now to grow and sadly you have little choice if you wish to be competitive and wrestle for the attention of viewers.

    However, since you’re good natured person I doubt you’ll be tempted to become a less likable character with what I think is a looming inevitable youtube fame. After all, you have the brains and humility to handle it stoically. Also a huge plus that you’re fully transparent about just aboot everything. That’ll obviously eventually lead drama seekers to look for any chink in that proverbial armor down the line.

    It’s crazy how you flow between varying fields, from design, logic, programming and resourcefulness. Really intriguing projects, shortcuts, but most of all great attitude and mentality. I’d be really interested in a video tackling the learning process of those skillsets, maybe as future vlog.

    Canadian hackadayers unite! :)

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