• Inventor

3D Printed Lithophanes



A lithophane is an etched or molded artwork in very thin material that can be seen clearly only when back lit with a light source. Lithophanes have been around since the late 1700's but only recently has it been possible to make them using plastic and a 3D Printer!




This is something I have wanted to try with my Ender 3 for a while. The steps are fairly easy so I will lay them out here.


First you want to find a high quality photograph or image, and save it to your computer. Keep in mind that unless you color the back of the finished lithophane with marker, these will be black-and-white images.

There are several sites that will turn any image into a lithophane STL for free but THIS SITE is the one I like best. They have many different options for night lights, lamps, globes, hearts and others. You can choose whatever you want but for simplicity, I will choose the flat lithophane. If you want it done fast, choose the frame option "No Border". This will give you a simple, flat lithophane that can generally be printed in 3-5 hours.


Go ahead and upload your image. Use the crop features to align it how you want it. Enter your email address, and generate your STL. You will want to unzip you STL to a different folder.


Next you will want to upload your STL to your 3D printing software. I am using Ultimaker Cura for use with my Creality Ender 3. You will want to rotate your model so that it lays flat on the print bed. Below are the setting I use with my white PLA material that give me the best results.



Once your settings are correct, go ahead and slice the model and get it set up on your printer.


In about 3-5 hours you will have a really cool, 3D printed lithophane that you can show off in your window, make into a night light, or give as a personalized gift.





Please let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions!


Thanks!


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