Bring Photos to Life – How to Create Your Own 3D Printed Lithophane

One of the major reasons why people purchase desktop 3D printers is because of the customizability that it allows people to create whatever they want. One type of 3D print that has gained popularity among 3D designers and makers over the past several months is the lithophane. Lithophane offers an excellent way to add some sophistication to your photos. In this article, we’ll show you how to create your own 3D printed lithophane.

What Is a Lithophane?
Lithophane is a specific kind of artwork that can only be seen clearly when backlit, meaning light is an essential element of this creative technique. In the late 1820s, people used to sculpt pictures onto thin, translucent pieces of porcelain. By varying the cuts and putting a backlight behind the artwork, a clear image can be seen. Lithophanes were thus born.

A Lithophane by pokemon_john (his INS)
(A Lithophane by pokemon_john on Instagram)

Times has changed and so has our technology. 3D printing has brought a newer and much easier method of creating these photo-based art forms with a handy desktop 3D printer. The way how lithophane works is that light passes through the thin parts white being blocked by the thick parts. Thus, the differences in light bring out the details of the whole image.

How to Make A 3D Printable Lithophane Model?
There are lots of tools available for converting your photo into a 3D printable lithophane model, but essentially all of them work the similar way. First, they speculate the original object of the image and emboss it. Then they give it a nice border and offer you the final file in a 3D format such as .stl file.
In the following section, we’ll introduce you a web-based Image to Lithophane generator and show you how to make a 3D printable lithophane model using this online tool. This web-based tool currently works with Google Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer 10+ browsers.

Image to Lithophane Generator 3DP Rocks
(Web-based Image to Lithophane Generator 3DP Rocks)

Go to 3DP Rocks, click on the Images tab and upload a photo of your choice – anything you want whether it be a wedding photo, a picture of your lovely pet, or a picture of your favorite scenery. Once you go back to the Model tab, you’ll notice your lithophane is almost ready, and you can choose different shapes for your lithophane. You can then modify the specifications you would like your lithophane to feature. You can change the maximum size, the border size, the thickness, minimum layer height as well as the number of vectors per pixel until you’re satisfied with the result. Finally, click Download in the Model tab and your browser will automatically download the .stl file. Now your lithophane is ready for you to 3D print.

How to Print A 3D Printable Lithophane Model?

A Lion King Lithophane by pasquale.fnt (his INS)
A Lion King Lithophane by pasquale.fnt on Instagram

As with any other 3D model, 3D printing a lithophane should be simple. No extra settings are needed, but there are some helpful tips to bear in mind.

  • If you’re planning to 3D print your lithophane vertically, it’s better to set the layer height as low as possible.
  • Since we want all details of the image, it would be better if you don’t print at very high speed.
  • You’ll get better final results if you set the infill to 100%.
  • Do not use transparent filament (use translucent or white PLA filament instead).

Once all is set up, you can go ahead and start 3D printing your own lithophane.

A Husky Lithophane by pgaprinting3d (his INS)
A Husky Lithophane by pgaprinting3d on Instagram

Turning photos into 3D printing projects gives them more feeling and adds a new charisma. Lithophanes are a simple yet great way to enhance your cherished photos. Nothing is more personal than memories shared by loved ones. Memories captured in a picture can be preserved for generations, and 3D printing offers a great way to preserve these memories with 3D printed lithophanes. You can also print a lithophane as novel gifts for your special ones or loved ones. We hope you find this article of value and have learned something useful on how to create your own 3D printed lithophane to bring your photos to life!

Post time: Aug-15-2019