Designing from Z to A is as complex as it can be beautiful - our Peace Angel highlights the capabilities of 3D printing in a stylish holiday-appropriate way. We also wanted a collaborative design that expressed our backgrounds in Textiles and Industrial Design.
We experimented with spiral interlocking structures that would be impossible to manufacture in traditional methods as a single piece. The angel is built on a snowflake base with an outer "skirt" and inner "body" that reconnects at her textured bodice and leads to her regal wings. We took great design care to make a design that would require very little clean-up and no support structures.
We also wanted to give her a personal touch by including customizable text that reads "Peace" but can be changed to any 12 character message for a Make-It-Yours (MIY) gift. We included the year as well because 2014 is rapidly emerging as the year 3D printing tipped.
Step 1: Develop a Spiral Form
We based the design on spiral shapes that climb at angles greater than 45 degrees. This allowed us to create the lattice skirt of the angel and 3D print it without using support material. Additionally, we created an inner spiral detail that weaves in and out of the outer skirt. The wings are formed from a section of the same spiral lattice structure as the skirt, inverted to grow out from the center of the angel. This photo shows some of the test prints that we created as we developed the design.
Step 2: Refining Print Details
We added more detail after the main elements of the angel design were resolved. These included a texture to the bodice, the year, and the letters "PEACE" filling in a lower portion of the skirt. The photo shows test prints of each to review quality. Design is an iterative process, but 3D printing is even more so. It took us about 12 iterations to get it honed in on the look and quality we wanted.
Step 3: 3D Print Experimentation
After the design was complete, we experimented with the resolution of the STL file. We found that if we created a low polygon mesh, the file would print with more surface imperfections. As we increased the number of polygons in the mesh, there were less imperfections and the print required less clean up.
We printed the photographed samples on a Makerbot 5th Generation machine at 100 micron layer thickness with a raft but without supports. It took about 9 hours to print in the matte white PLA filament. Please contact us if you would like to download our STL file and try it for yourself.