Mar 15, 2018 | By Benedict

Instructables user [geekrex] has created a tutorial for 3D printing your photographs and turning them into a lithophane lamp. The cool technique requires a 3D printer, some LED lights, and a few other bits and pieces.

Looking for a new way to make customized gifts for loved ones? Something a bit more unique than a box of chocolates? If you have a 3D printer and some time on your hands, you might try this nifty little trick from Instructables user geekrex.

The maker’s Instructable is a guide to turning ordinary 2D photographs into 3D printed lithophane lamps: glowing boxes surrounded by four illuminated images, one on each face of the cubic structure.

Maker geekrex explains the motives for the cool DIY 3D printing tutorial: “Since I have a 3D printer, I always think that the best gift would be something personalized that I would 3D print, something that cannot be bought elsewhere and something that would make me proud to show off my printer's creations. And also, I wouldn't have to keep worrying about finding a good gift idea!”

A lithophane is a kind of porcelain engraving whose design is visible when illuminated from behind. It depicts a 3D image in intaglio that generally appears in a grayish color. By making a lamp that accommodates four of them, you have a great vehicle for showcasing images in a fun way.

Before we get in to the details of geekrex’s method, it seems worth pointing out that there’s a brilliant shortcut for getting the ball rolling. Free websites like this allow you to quickly turn any 2D photograph into a 3D lithograph model, so the digital part of the process is almost entirely automated.

Of course, you might prefer to construct the 3D model of your lithophane yourself, choosing the cuts and crevices manually, but the first step of the process can—if you like—be an easy one.

One you have your 3D lithophane model generated from a 2D photo, it’s time to 3D print it. Geekrex advises working with a 0.2 mm layer height with 60 mm/s speed for the best results.

But 3D printing the pictorial part of the lithophane lamp is just the beginning. Next comes designing and 3D printing an enclosure. In geekrex’s design, this enclosure consists of three parts: an upper and lower element, and a diffuser for the LED lighting to make the light soft rather than harsh.

The maker made their enclosure, which is essentially a box with a light in the middle and pictures on the outside, in Autodesk Fusion 360, printing it in black PLA. Recommended layer height is 0.2 mm with 20 percent infill.

The hardest part of the entire project is probably the soldering stage, which is needed to attach the LED light to the enclosure.

However, when that is over, the lamp can be assembled relatively easily by fixing the four lithophanes around the holder.

We think geekrex has come up with a really great way of making a personalized 3D printed gift. Feel like making your own? Check out the Instructable here and watch the video below for more info.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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