White House Sponsors First-Ever 3D-Printed Ornament Contest

The "Boflake" ornament from 2012.
This "Boflake" ornament, made for White House holiday festivities in 2012, features the first pet, Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog. (Image credit: Whitehouse.gov)

Calling all 3D printing enthusiasts! Today (Nov. 10) is the last day to submit designs for the first-ever White House 3D-Printed Ornament Challenge.

The contest — hosted by the popular maker website, Instructables — is an opportunity for DIYers and students from around the United States to share their 3D designs with each other and with the first family.

Contestants are asked to create an ornament that reflects "the theme of the magic and wonder of the holidays and the winter season," according to the contest rules. [The 10 Weirdest Things Created By 3D Printing]

Eight lucky finalists will have their designs printed and displayed in the East Wing of the White House during the 2014 holiday season. The winning ornaments will also be featured as a part of the Smithsonian's 3D modeling project, X 3D, which seeks to digitalize the museum's extensive collection of artifacts to make it more widely available to the public.

The winning designs will even join a select group of White House ornaments showcased in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History's political history division.

All submissions for the Ornament Challenge will be reviewed by two separate panels of judges — the first panel will choose 20 finalists from all of the submitted designs, and the second will select eight of those designs to be 3D-printed and displayed in the White House. Registered Instructables users can also vote for the designs they want to see hanging at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, though public voting won't be used to make any final decisions about the winners.

So far, contestants have come up with an array of designs, some of which capture the whimsical wintery theme of the contest better than others. There's a lacey-looking ice skate that promises to win the judges' attention, as well as a beautiful homage to the traditional presidential holiday speeches of years past. And then there's an ornament shaped like the disembodied head of Abraham Lincoln, and one shaped like a squid.

But the 3D-Printed Ornament Challenge is more about inspiring Americans to make thingsthan it is about winning, according to contest organizers. The competition is part of the White House's effort to get the so-called Maker Movement flowing in full swing in the U.S., an effort that began with the first-ever White House Maker Faire in June.

There are only a few hours left to submit your design for this year's contest. To do so, visit the contest's home page on Instructables and upload your design as a new project in the Ornament Challenge. Instructables users can continue to vote on their favorite designs until Thursday (Nov. 13).

Follow Elizabeth Palermo @techEpalermo. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth is a former Live Science associate editor and current director of audience development at the Chamber of Commerce. She graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from George Washington University. Elizabeth has traveled throughout the Americas, studying political systems and indigenous cultures and teaching English to students of all ages.