How to Create a Moana Replica Necklace with SOLIDWORKS and 3D Printing

Written by: Enrique Garcia, Application Engineer

Last Thanksgiving, we watched the Disney movie Moana and my family couldn’t stop humming the songs. This year, some of the cousins in my family decided to take a family trip to Disney World Orlando to stop “adulting” for a couple of days. My sister is one of the biggest Disney fans I know, so I wanted to surprise her and help her build her very own prop necklace she could wear at Disney World during the trip, just like the one Moana wore in the movie.

Moana Movie Screenshot

To start the project, I had to become as familiar as possible with the necklace. Also, I had to recall how it opens in the movie and how I can accomplish the same feel in real-life.

I figured it would be more fun to have the inner gemstone be a separate piece that can be placed in a simple locket-style cavity that clasps the cavity shut with small magnets. I have worked with small magnets before and they can hold fast very well. After a couple of minutes Googling, I found some good reference material and quickly opened SOLIDWORKS and began designing.

I started by mocking up the general shapes of the locket portion and the inner gemstone (Heart of Te Fiti) and came up with some human-proportioned sizes.

gem mock up in SOLIDWORKS

The next major step for making the design was figuring out a way to cut out the carvings into the gemstone and make them look as hand-made as possible.

Design carvings for Moana gem

I used another sketch picture to sketch out the design of the gemstone carvings. I used splines wherever possible to give it the most hand-made look I could. Sketching out the design was a painstaking process since I did not want to go with any of the standard pattern techniques available to keep all the shapes unique.

If you are printing with fused filament fabrication printers, also be mindful of the detail size when designing and do not go too small such that your printer will omit some of the details on your model.

The next major step for finishing the design was figuring out a way to cut out the sketch of the carvings and give the carved out shapes some depth in the model.

I ended up using the rollback bar and rolled back my model back just before the carving sketch I made and added an inward surface offset from the outer surface of the stone. I rolled my model back down to continue with the design and then used the split line feature with the projection option and split the offset surface into the different shapes of the carvings.

Cutting out designs in SOLIDWORKS

Next, I used the Delete Face and Thicken Surface features to thicken each carving shape into a solid that would interfere a bit with the gem stone.

SOLIDWORKS Thicken Surface Feature

Lastly, I used the combine tool and the subtract operation type to cut out the different carving shapes from the model using these thickened solids to finish the design.

Cut out shapes in SOLIDWORKS

Finished Moana heart design in SOLIDWORKS

After the gemstone was completed I used the same modeling workflow of using sketch pictures, spline sketch geometry, split lines, the thicken feature and combine feature to create the outer locket of the necklace.

Moana Locket design in SOLIDWORKS

Next, I had to source the magnets that would hold the locket together and make sure they were going to fit my design. I did a test fit in SOLIDWORKS after grabbing the specs online before I bought them to make sure they would work for my project.

Magnet Fit Test in SOLIDWORKS

The last phase for me was printing the modeled parts out on my Monoprice Maker Select Plus 3D printer and installing the magnets.

Monoprice 3D printer

I used Hatchbox glow-in-the-dark filament to print the locket and the gemstone to give it a fun glowing effect.

Glow in the dark filament

I then gave the 3D printed parts to my sister and she finished off the necklace prop with acrylic paints and some hand-weaving for the necklace chain.

Hand painted Moana necklace

Finished Necklace

My sister and I had a fun time at Disney World and she got many compliments on her necklace!

Enrique and his sister


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