3-D Printing the Ulitmate Deep-Sea Christmas Tree

Armed with the lab’s trusty Ultimaker 3-D printer, our imaginations, and endless source of inspiration that is deep-sea life and science, my lab and I set out to create a deep-sea themed Christmas Tree.

The goal was to create a tree where the top represented the ocean’s surface and the base representing the abyssal floor. With a series of white, blue, and black ribbon and silver and blue miniature bulb ornaments, we created the effect of attenuated light as you move deeper. We wanted to make sure to include both a remotely operated vehicle on a lighted tether as well as lighted bathysphere. The tree also included a giant squid attacking a shark and whale fall complete with crabs and eels. We also made some tiny experimental wood falls to resemble the real ones we now have deployed all over the Gulf of Mexico.

You can print all of these decorations yourself. The complete collection can be found in my Thingiverse collection and include:

Dr. M (1795 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.


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