How about that moon last night? After being hyped for weeks, a total lunar eclipse turned the moon red in the meteorological phenomenon known as a blood moon, and, to add even more drama to the night sky, the moon also happened to be a supermoon. The confluence has brought about some dire predictions about the apocalypse from certain religious sects; if you’re reading this, chances are that things are still okay.
In China, the event is even more significant (in a non-apocalyptic sense), as September 27th marked the annual Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival. The second most important Chinese festival after Lunar New Year, the Moon Festival dates back to ancient times, with its origins uncertain. As the full moon symbolizes reunion, families gather for a large, harvest-celebrating dinner before gravitating to beaches, parks and hills to celebrate in the moonlight.
As in most Chinese festivals, the Moon Festival contains an abundance of Chinese lanterns. Traditionally made of thin paper, Chinese lanterns have spread beyond Asia and made their way into American parties and festivals. Chances are you’ve set one aloft yourself at some point in your life, or sat beneath miniature versions at someone’s outdoor summer party. Some relatives of mine live in a beachfront community that has a Fourth of July party ever year, and for a few years one of the highlights was a family that brought Chinese lanterns to set off over Lake Erie. It was beautiful to watch, until one year someone’s roof caught on fire. It was thankfully put out quickly, but that put an end to that particular tradition.
3D printing giant Stratasys has an alternative. To honor this year’s Moon Festival, the company has put a unique, modern twist on the traditional Chinese lantern by creating a 3D printed version. Designed by Stratasys’ Hong Kong application team, the lantern was printed in rigid color materials using an Objet500 Connex3 Multi-color, Multi-material 3D Printer. Brightly colored and intricately detailed with dragons and other traditional forms, the lantern was printed with the Chinese words 人月兩團圓, which translate to “family reunion at full moon.”
This isn’t the first time Stratasys has commemorated a festival or event through 3D printing. In the past they have printed a miniature Brazilian soccer stadium in honor of the World Cup, and they have also teamed up with other retailers to offer Christmas giveaways of specially designed 3D printed snowflakes to top customers. By honoring the importance of festivals and holidays, Stratasys consistently shows that while the business of 3D printing may be geared toward the future, it never hurts to slow down for a moment and celebrate tradition.