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A SketchUp Christmas story...

Twas right after Thanksgiving, as we set up the tree;
Just my wife, my son, our 2 dogs, and me.
The stockings we hung, lights all round the eaves
(then I cleaned out the gutters, and raked up the leaves).

The ornaments we hung, each brimming with history,
As we finished, we ran into a mystery.
Where was our topper? So shiny and bright!
We looked high and looked low, but twas not in sight!

We can’t have a tree without a topper on top!
So I ran to the office and grabbed my laptop.
In SketchUp I’ll make one, how hard can it be?
I’ll create something now to put on the tree!

My wife huffed and puffed and made a decree:
“You can’t print everything out in 3D!”
“Just wait,” I said with a wry smile,
“I’ll make a tree-topper and I’ll make it with style!”

So I modeled and modeled, then I modeled some more,
Then a few trips to the local hardware store.
The printer was printing, buzzing to and fro.
I went over to SparkFun, this would be quite a show!

At last, it was printed then assembled one night,
I attached each LED and soldered just right.
Atop the tree, I placed my creation with delight,
A bright-shining star to guide us through the night.

Whew, I haven’t written a poem like that in years! And yes, I really did print out an LED-lit star for our Christmas Tree this year. I’ve got a few pictures here that show various steps in the process.

3D-printed tree topper How to make a 3D-printed tree topper: component/pattern modeling + Joint PushPull for print-ready wall thickness + LED's + hardware store!

The models to print this yourself are located in the 3D Warehouse for anyone to use. They should print at 0% infill and don’t need support. I used a SketchUp pattern component method for making snowflakes in SketchUp to make sure all of the sides were equal. I decided on a dodecahedron as the base shape -- here’s how to model a dodecahedron -- then raised the edges up to a point for each star point. With a little SketchUp magic, courtesy of Fredo6’s Joint Push Pull, I set the thickness to exactly 2mm (thin enough to not need infill while printing, but thick enough to be strong). I added a 10mm hole in the bottom for the LEDs. Then it was off via STL export into the slicer software for my printer.

For this particular print, I wanted the light to shine through so I used a transparent, recycled PETg from Filamentive for printing. With some electronics from our friends over at Sparkfun, a little glue, solder, and Loctite for plastics and my tree topper was born.

3D-printed tree topper

I hope everyone enjoys this fun Christmas Star to light up their tree!

Merry Christmas!

About the Author

Ty is a member of the Knowledge Team (Tech Support) for SketchUp and spends his days fixing SketchUpper's problems, like a shrink without the degree or the couch. In his free time, he can be found working on his house, exploring the Colorado mountains, or traveling around the world.

Profile Photo of Ty Schalamon