Emily Beldon is a writer and doer of creative things. Her husband Ryan Lange is a maker and builder, too, often with a welding torch, circular saw, or any number of tools. They pretty much earn their living just making very cool stuff. Check out Handmade America to see what we mean.
The invention of the 3D printer is opening new possibilities for them, and they’re telling the world. Here, they share ideas they came up with for using their 3D printer to create unique holiday gifts.
As craftspeople and makers, we can’t remember the last store-bought holiday gift we gave to our friends and family. Each year, the pressure is on to somehow outdo ourselves from whatever unique items we put under the tree in the past. But this year, the Dremel Idea Builder 3D Printer has given us an edge even Santa’s elves would be jealous of. Here’s how we are stuffing stockings this year.
Easy Set Up
The concept of a 3D printer seems like it is something from outer space. Think about it: a printer of THINGS. While we welcomed it fully, the idea of potentially having one in our shop seemed daunting and intimidating. But upon arrival, setting it up took less than five minutes from the time we opened the box to the time the extruder was done warming up and ready to go.
We found it incredibly intuitive to run the filament through the guide into the extruder head, which was step-one.
Then, just as easy, was sticking down the Dremel mat into the build platform, which was our step-two.
During set up, we discovered our favorite thing about the printer: customizing the LED color on the inside of the machine to the color of your liking. We went with blue to match the paint in our workshop, and thought that was a super slick option.
Our Creative Brainstorm
Like we mentioned, handmade gifts is the name of the game with us. However, this year has brought several new family members from marriages and births. With so many people to wrap presents for, our traditional gift exchange morphed into a plan to create unique stocking stuffers across the board.
To get started, we used the supplied Micro SD card and the test files that were on there to play around and print. Once we got the hang of it and were ready to print more, we downloaded files off the Idea Builder website and got to work with our gift-giving game plan.
Our first item was a traditional dreidel, which printed in white. We thought this would make an excellent paperweight for a desk or an appropriate hostess gift during the holiday season.
The print was two-part, the dreidel itself, along with the twirling stick. To take the finished product to the next level, we used two items from our craft drawer – a permanent colored marker and craft tape. We used a fine-point marker to fill in the characters on the sides, then cut custom strips of craft tape to carefully wrap the dreidel. The result was an upbeat, personalized, totally DIY gift.
Keep on Going
Our next item was a snowman Christmas ornament for Emily’s sister, who is celebrating her first Christmas in a house with her husband. In years past, she never had the space for a Christmas tree. This year, they have a 10-foot tree in their new home just outside of Chicago, so a simple snowman ornament to commemorate the milestone was in order.
Seeing that printing these on white filament was appropriate for a snowman, we were able to run these quickly, at just 20 minutes a pop. That made deciding on these as a holiday gift for clients this year a total no-brainer. Finishing them off with a bit of laser engraving to put our stamp on them (literally), and also a tie in the material and color of our choice, these light-weight ornaments fit the season perfectly and were easy to send out.
Finally, this holiday season, we were asked to create some unique handmade gifts for a local boutique that sells our handmade products throughout the year in their brick-and-mortar. We thought this was a perfect opportunity to put the 3D printer to the test. Traditional, globe-shaped ornaments are a seasonal favorite, but we wanted to take it a step further.
As the globe was printing, we inserted a vintage antique key in the middle of the ball. This way, when the print finished, you could hear a mystery item on in the inside. We repeated this with a silver dollar and a wine cork. These little surprises are what makes the ornament extra special and fun to give to anyone in your life
To finish them off, we gave them a few coats of Martha Stewart’s metallic paint in “Vintage Gold”, but The Home Depot offers many additional options for holiday crafting. We used red and white striped construction tape on the flat bottom to mimic a candy cane and get in the holiday spirit. If you wanted to forgo painting, these handmade ball ornaments can be printed in any color filament available from Dremel or spray painted when done to match the look you’re going for.
Browse The Home Depot’s online 3D Printer page for a selection of 3D printers, filament and other supplies.