What does SOLIDWORKS and 3D printing have to do with Easter?
At first glance, not a thing. This is what I found interesting when challenged to come up with a blog article that relates to several of the upcoming holidays. I saw Easter on the list and instantly had something in mind. In the past, I’ve used SOLIDWORKS to design molds to create sidewalk chalk using powdered Tempera paint, plaster of paris and water. I have also melted down some crayons and poured them into a mold to create a custom color. For Easter, why not try a chocolate mold?
Walking through the grocery store helped give me several ideas for an Easter themed chocolate mold. There were chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs, and chocolate flowers. Then I stumbled on bunny shaped cake pans, smaller bunny treat molds, and cookie cutters all geared towards Easter. The ideas were almost endless.
I bought a few boxes of cake and brownie mix as well as some bakers melting chocolate. In the past, I’ve made chocolate covered strawberries so the melting part should be fairly easy. It’s the next step that can be difficult. Have you ever tried to model a cute cuddly bunny rabbit in SOLIDWORKS? A simple 2D extruded shape wouldn’t be that bad. For that version, all I would need to do is use the Sketch Picture tool inside SOLIDWORKS and simply trace it. I’ve done that many times with different images and included it in the SOLIDWORKS Advanced Part training class.
Before starting the model, I thought to browse the internet for some mold designs that could inspire my design or potentially save me a lot of time. Why re-invent the wheel, eh? I looked thru GrabCad, 3D ContentCentral and Thingiverse and found plenty of examples to get started. I even saw examples where people used laser scanners and reverse engineering to come up with the more complicated shapes but those topics are for another blog. The point is, there are many people out there far craftier than I, thankfully!
I picked a handful of examples that I wanted to try, a 2-piece bunny mold that would be interesting to print and try out with a cake mix as well as some bunny whiskers that looked fun to print. However, what I really wanted to test was the chocolate mold idea, so I worked on that design in SOLIDWORKS.
For the chocolate egg mold, I started simple with a two piece mold and added a place to fill the mold with chocolate as well as a place on each side to insert a screw driver in order to get the mold halves apart. Locating pins also helped take some of the guesswork out of it. I figured a few well-placed rubber bands could hold the two halves together while the chocolate hardened. Here is an image of the first mold.
I used SOLIDWORKS features like Insert / Features / Combine to subtract the egg shape from the two halves of the mold. The Split command was able to use a plane to produce the two halves of the mold from that solid block.
Just for fun, I tried a few fancier egg designs, mimicking what I had seen in the store.
I used Split Line commands, Surface Offsets, Surface Thickens, Sweeps, as well as some patterning in SOLIDWORKS to make the more interesting version.
Below are some pictures of the results of my efforts. This is proof that with a little creativity, SOLIDWORKS, a 3D printer and a wife to help with the chocolate and baking side of things – every holiday can be a time when we can take advantage of all the training we put in over the years. I like to emphasize to people who are beginning to use SOLIDWORKS that modeling something that interests us outside of work can be great practice.