Cool Christmas Tree Project from Solidoodler Zach Burhop

Zach Burhop makes some very cool stuff. An aerospace engineer, industrial designer, and occasional television personality (he’s been featured on shows like National Geographic Channel’s Mad Scientists and Rocket City Rednecks), Zach’s a professional maker that still finds time to make things just for fun. His latest creation caught our eye, just in time for the holidays–an Arduino-powered Christmas tree with 3D-printed ornaments and a custom star he designed to top what we can only describe as a magical spectacle of lights. Check out the video and Q&A below!


What’s the inspiration behind your tree?
My birthday is Christmas day, so I wanted to try to do something different this year. I was very disappointed in what you can buy–mostly just classical decorations. I saw the ornaments and had started playing around with the LEDs and thought this would be an awesome mashup!

What software do you use for modeling?
Solid Edge.

Are you related to Mark Burhop, whom we featured in a previous blog post? You share his last name and he’s part of Siemens PLM team on that software.
Yeah, he’s my dad. He was skeptical of my Solidoodle at first. I took the leap and bought one and he started using it just as much as I did and finally got his own.

Do you have previous 3D printing experience?
Just vaguely in college. I’ve used a higher-end professional 3D printer but I’m pretty happy with the Solidoodle. I really got going when I got my Solidoodle about a year ago.

Why’d you go with a Solidoodle?
I worked a lot of machine shop and I’ve always had my eye on getting a 3D printer; so I was pretty excited when I saw the Solidoodle.  I’ve had pretty good 3D printing with that nonstop. I run it 8-9 hrs a day!

Including weekends?

Any mods?
I use glass on the bed and just hairspray. PLA sticks perfectly!

What kind of parts do you print primarily?
A lot are casings for electronics. For the tree, I printed ornaments and parts for the star topper.

Besides your tree, what is a project you’re most excited about?
I’ve got projects everywhere. I have a robotic arm about three-quarters built. I’m working on a glove that has sensors to symmetrically mimic movements with a opposite robotic hand. What’s great about open-source projects like the robotic arm is that you can work specifically in modifications and innovations you’re interested in and then share them for others to download. If these projects weren’t out there, I’d never be working on something like this.


Thanks to Zach Burhop for taking the time to chat about his 3D printing experience and for sharing his awesome Christmas tree video with us. We hope to see video of the robotic arm he’s working on once completed. It sounds amazing!

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