SolidWorks tutorial: how to draw 3D printable orb-weaver spider pendant-brooch

My sweet girlfriend Mrs. Mastermind is like no other woman. Most ladies love to receive flowers, all sorts of bijouterie and other “ordinary female requests”, but not she. Mrs. Mastermind just loves spiders. Paintings, sculptures or real spiders! So, because I know and I can create artistic sculptures I had an idea how to make unusual jewelry with SolidWorks program and print it with 3D printer extruder.

But suddenly three problems emerge:

  • Solidworks isn’t designed for artistic sculptures;
  • Extrusion 3D printers don’t leave a sufficiently smooth surface and are using supports, after which the marks remain.
  • The smooth surface can be made with ABS plastic and acetone steam, but I use the MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer, which does not have a heat bed needed for the ABS plastic.

So I chose to draw a brooch that could still be used as a pendant on both sides. In order to make an interesting and not boring spider, I thought of decorating it with a cross and a few stripes (it’s a common spider in Lithuania). Here I will tell you how to draw such creation using Solidworks or another vector engineering drawing program.

1 step:
I made the middle body using the Revolve feature. I rolled up only 180 ‘degrees and rounded up with the Fillet. In the central skeleton sketch, I’ve marked 80 mm (3,15 in) diameter circle which shows the size of the spider. It will be needed later when I’ll draw the legs.

2 step:
On the top plane, using the Boss-Extrude feature, I made a horn with rounded edges and turned it 30 ‘degrees on the spindle axis and made a mirror copy of it.

3 step:
On the Right Plane, using the Boss-Extrude feature, I made one leg with variable fillets. As you can see, in the sketch I outlined a half-elliptical dashed line that has a tangent relation with the leg joints and the back of the spider’s belly. Later I made more copies of that leg with the Circular Pattern feature around the circle line I’ve mentioned in step 1. I chose to do 11 pieces of them because 8 of them are in the right place. I’ve skipped two legs, I don’t need them and I have deleted the very first leg in the first place as it is not needed too.

4 step:
As I’ve mentioned before, in order to make the spider look not so boring it should be labeled with a cross. I made it just with the Cut-Extrude features. I have set the cut-off bottom to be offset from the surface. To make the cross brighter, I’ve rounded its edges with Fillet feature.

5 step:
Only to put the cross on it wasn’t enough, so I made more stripes, which were tangled so that they wouldn’t cause any problems with the cross and I repeated the same Cut-Extrude feature. However, the central abdomen is not as flat as the final abdomen, so I made only one stroke on it. I repeat it in a semicircle with the Circular Pattern feature and made a mirror copy of it.

6 step:
Like every spider, this one will be with many eyes. I’ve drawn their layout, in the same way, I have made stripes and cross. I also have made the eyes with the same Cut-Extrude feature by setting the cut-off-bottom would be parallel to the head surface using Offset From Surface feature. Finally, we can combine all the bodies into one with Combine.

7 step:
Here’s the same spider. Already done! If you want to use it as a brooch, you’ll need to hook it. On the right plane, I draw the desired hook shape and have created a new body with the Boss-Extrude function. As the part of the hook merges with the body of the spider, you will need to make a cut to which the hook will be glued. This must be done because with the extruding 3D printer is easier to print when the spider stays on a flat plate. For cutting, it’s best to use the Indent feature, which cuts around the hook an additional layer of thickness about 0.2 mm (0.008 in). It should be left out, as the printed parts narrow the holes and the hook may not fit.

8 step:
If you want to use the spider as a pendant, you need to make a hole for the metal ring. The simple Cut-Revolve feature is enough. I chose that the center of the ring would be a little lower than the bottom of the spider, so I created a parallel plane on which I plotted a sketch. Similarly, the same hole can be made on the front, so that the pendant hangs its head upwards.

We can change it’s color, for example, in black and see how it would look. As you can see, the body of the spider keeps the shape in line with the imaginary lines of the circle and ellipse. It looks quite cool, quite similar to a live spider.

I’ve printed this spider using black PLA plastic and with these settings:

  • Rafts – on,
  • Supports – on,
  • Layers – 0,1 mm (0,004 in),
  • Infill – ~15%,
  • Number of shell – 2.

After printing, the spider itself had a lot of plastic webs stuck on its body and it took a good hour to clean all the supports and threads with a knife. The spider was surprisingly solid. I was a little afraid that it could easily break legs, but in the end, everything was great.
Now all you have to do is to put the hook and here’s the up-close look at the orb-weaver spider. I think it’s suitable not only as an ornament or jewelry piece, but also to scare someone with it. But it would be a pity if it would be destroyed in the frightened reaction. Better use flexible 3D printing filaments in order to make it into Halloween spider mode.

My lady endlessly enjoyed finding him hidden in a wooden house, which I gave her for Christmas, but I will write about the house later… 😉

So if you like this 3D model and you would love to print it yourself, you can download STL file anytime you want from 3DExport or order it already printed from Shapeways.

Please rate, comment and feel free to ask any questions, suggestions, tips, ideas. Also feel free to share this post. I would be very interested to be linked to others who make similar jewelry!


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