Sunday, December 8, 2013

Santa Sleigh...Ho Ho Ho!

It's that time of year when we turn to printing Christmas things! The range of published designs seems to grow and grow each year.
This year I took sleigh parts from various sources and combined them in to a new Santa and Sleigh combination (above). It's made up of sleigh runners from the CreativeTools Sleigh, which I separated from the sleigh body for easy printing. This also allowed these parts to be printed in a different colour to the sleigh body for a nice contrast. The sleigh body was re-drawn in Sketchup by simply extruding a profile which matched the gaps in the runners (side parts). I then recessed a seating area within the sleigh body, to give Santa somewhere to sit!
(Above) Parts laid out in Sketchup. There's a left & right runner because it's not a uniform thickness.

The reindeer were from Chefmaki's Sleigh, a sleigh I printed last year (see here). The deer were imported into Sketchup and scaled up to match the new sleigh size.
(Above) Six reindeer print nicely in one go, along with the supporting bar. 200mm x 200mm print bed.

I trawled for a suitable Santa to sit in the sleigh and settled on this one (photo below) which I extracted from this Candle Holder using Meshlab, tidied it up in SketchUp and sliced in Cura. Cura has a neat feature which sinks an object into the platform, creating a flat bottom on the base of an object so it sits well. Support was enabled for the arms and hat.
The sleigh body (red part above) was printed on it's side. The top wall needed support when printing in this orientation. Removing support material can often be a challenge, and the ease with which support material breaks away can vary greatly between slicing software, and settings chosen. For this project I found Kisslicer had the best support material and the easiest to remove, but you may have your own favourite. I chose a coarse Support setting with a .2mm horizontal gap. I've included a short video (below) of removing the support material from the sleigh body, for anyone that might be interested.

Once all the elements were printed the runners were glued to the sleigh body, leaving the body recessed slightly for best effect. The reindeer were attached to the support bar, all with dabs of super-glue. The final touches were added with some embroidery cord for reins and plastic gems for the reindeer. 

This is a nice Christmas Ornament and can be printed in many colour combinations and decorative styles.
 Version above with gold sleigh and red runners.

Files published to Thingiverse:

Technical Notes:
It is worth trying different slicing software when printing new objects, as they all seem to have their own ways of plotting the print. In the case of the narrow swirling sleigh rails, I found Cura performed the best, filling in the gaps between the close perimeters of the rails very neatly. Both Slic3r and Skeinforge left gaps in the narrow rails, even after much experimentation with settings.

A .3mm layer height gave a good finish for all the elements of this print. The reindeer had a 25% infill. Anything less risked the top solid horizontal layers gapping or dipping. Santa was printed with hollow, giving a nice translucent look with the gold filament.

The above was printed in 3mm PLA, to a heated glass bed with a light PVA/water coating on the glass. Nozzle tempeature of 185Deg C, bed temperature of 60 Deg. (if using a Prusa HBP you may need the bed temperature set slightly higher because they are typically fitted with the heater on the underside, and there is a 10 to 15 deg difference between the underside and the top of the heated bed.)

 I use a .5mm j-head hotend, with active cooling on the PEEK, and variable speed cooling on the work. The printer is a scratch build Mendel90 (not from kit).

Happy Christmas printing!