Valentine’s Day and Stratasys 3D Printing: A Love Story

by Jeff Jordan

History

Valentine’s Day dates back almost two millennia, whereas 3D printing is the hottest of ‘hot new things’, and has really only come to the public consciousness in the last decade.  How well could these two very different things from very different times come together?  Amazingly well, when you have Stratasys 3D printers and a little ingenuity.

Individuality

Valentine’s Day nowadays is about showing someone that they’re special, and what better way to do that than to design and print something one-off and truly unique.  A store-bought, mass-produced teddy bear made overseas might have gotten you by a few years ago, but no matter how much money one could spend, it doesn’t compare to a one-of-a-kind gift. One that you dreamed up and brought to reality specifically for the lucky recipient.  We can choose not only the geometry, but materials, and even color with our Connex line of Stratasys printers.

Design Complexity

When it comes to traditional manufacturing of gifts, complexity and individualization cost money.  Additive manufacturing is not limited by this – we can design as much complexity into the part as we want, and in most cases it actually makes it less expensive to produce (less material = less money and less time)!  Additionally, since each part is printed individually (rather than large production runs of the same exact part), there’s no penalty in cost or time to making changes between models – each and every one can be different!

This rose (from “sinarhp” on shapeways.com) would be incredibly difficult to mold or cast with traditional plastic manufacturing methods due to its complexity and geometry.

shapeways roseshapeways rose close

This incredibly personalized and very complex pendant (from joshharker.com) is a fantastic example of a Valentine’s gift drawn specifically for someone and brought to reality with 3D printing.

death do us part

Functional Gifts

Just as 3D printing has transformed two dimensional drawings from ink on a page to something tangible, it opens the door to functional gifts, with intricate moving parts and motion integrated to the design.  Touch being one of the most powerful senses, being able to hold a gift is immeasurably more powerful than looking at it on a piece of paper or a screen. Once you add the dimension of motion, a 3D printed gift becomes far and away the most compelling medium for expressing one’s self.

A very simple, but very cool, idea by Greg Frost on Thingiverse (owned by Stratasys) was to model the ‘almost impossible sphere’ puzzle into a heart.  Functional and fun!

With the capability to pause a print and insert non-printed objects into a cavity, another level of functionality can be reached with something like this iPhone charger enclosure modeled in SOLIDWORKS on cgtrader.com.  Additional personalization with a name, a message, or other geometry can be added easily in SOLIDWORKS and printed in no time!

Meta-gifts!

Then we can get “meta” – gifts within gifts. Just like this printed gift box, you can add another layer of customization and fun.  Rather than a gift bag or some ornate wrapping paper after the holiday, a printed gift holder can be re-used or re-purposed, adding to the usefulness (and appreciation!) of the gift while still being completely personal.

heart box

This box from youmagine.com would be a fantastic gift by itself, with its functional compartments, snap-closures, and the ability to easily customize it before printing…but when used as a gift box for other custom gifts, it’s like ‘giftception’!

Durability

Chocolates may be well-received on the 14th of February, but they’re all but forgotten a week or two later.  Flowers?  Even faster.  3D printed gifts in FDM or PolyJet materials are durable, colorfast, and continue to remind the lucky giftee of the gift-giver’s thoughtfulness for months (years?) to come.

So with all these choices, what should we make?

As interesting as all these gift ideas are, the Valentine’s Day and Stratasys printers love affair is part of something bigger – these powerful tools are helping businesses cut development times, explore entirely new applications in  countless industries, and cut manufacturing costs every day…but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun!  Here in the San Diego GoEngineer office, we used our Objet500 Connex3 to show off the strengths of Stratasys Digital Materials by printing a couple models in interesting, new ways.

We started with a download of the rose with stem model from “tc_fea” and Three Heart Gears from “emmett”, both on Thingiverse, and loaded them into Objet Studio.

objet studio

After separating the files into shells (automatically done by Objet Studio), we were at a point to choose material options for each ‘shell’, and wanted to be creative.  We knew we wanted the base color to be VeroMagenta, and we wanted some of the purples that come with mixes of VeroMagenta and VeroBlack, but the novel idea was to mix in Tango+, a translucent flexible material that’s very soft (Shore A27) and very flexible (218% elongation at break), to add a very organic feel to these parts.

We chose FLX-MT-S60-DM, a Shore A60-simulating mix between VeroMagenta and Tango+,  for the rose bud, which turned out incredibly realistic – it looks and feels like a pink rose!  FLX2085DM (Tango+ and VeroBlack) was chosen for the stem more for feel (trying to replicate the flexible, but stiffer) of a rose stem than its color, but contrasts very well with the rose head.

On the Heart Gears model, we used VeroMagenta, FLX-MT-S85-DM (another mix of VeroMagenta and Tango+), FLX-MT-S95-DM (even stiffer mix of VeroMagenta and Tango+), and RGD-MK-001-DM (rigid mix of VeroMagenta and VeroBlack) for a mixture of colors and feels.  The Tango+ material adds a ‘soft touch’ to an otherwise rigid model, but still has the dimensional accuracy in these mixes to work well in a geared model.

heart gears on desk in shape

These models, like everything we print on our Stratasys printers, came out extremely well – accuracy to the 3D model, uniformity through the part, and fidelity to the stated properties of the Digital Materials are all fantastic, proving that this love affair might be part of something very special.  Thanks for reading, please comment below, and most of all, have a happy Valentine’s Day!

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