Lithophane with 3D Printer


I created a lithophane using my home-made 3D printer. By using BMP2IGES, a freely available program, I converted a grey scale image to a mesh, with white being thinnest and black being thickest. I printed white ABS filament, and experimented with overall thickness to make a clearly visible image with the light from a $2 night light from a dollar store.

I was following the example provided by Joe.

Here is the original image, and the conversion to grey scale. I added blackouts to protect the privacy of my friends.

JulieIan Eyes Blocked JulieIanBWCrop Eyes Blocked

I first experimented with the lithophane using Blender. I defined an emitting surface, and made the lithophane out of material that partially transmitted light. By rendering the lithophane with the light source behind, I could test the appearance.

Blender Render


Next I printed the actual object with my 3D printer. The first one was too thick, and required a very bright light to see the image. I thinned the print and made it work well. Here is a Blender rendering of the back of the object.


Note that teeth, which are white are thinnest so that more light can come through the object.

Here is the printed object seen from the side of the night light.

IMG_9775 IMG_9774 IMG_9771

IMG_9773 IMG_9776

The mount is also 3D printed and joined to the lithophane using PVC/ABS glue from Home Depot ($7).


Here is another angle showing the finished product.


Here is a video showing some lithophane examples

You can also upload an image and let Makerbot create a printable lithophane for you at this Thingiverse link

Here is software you can buy to make lithophanes in various shapes


One response to “Lithophane with 3D Printer

  1. Reblogged this on Polytech's WordPress Place and commented:
    3D printing is an ultimate enabling technology! Once you have a way of creating physical objects from computer models and master material’s limitations, there’s no telling what you’ll be able to do! We’ve seen 3D-printed phonograph records, 3D printed bikini, not to mention the much hyped-up 3D printed gun, and now G.P. Le Sage Blog brings us 3D printed lithophane (a picture formed by light that passes through different thickness of semi-translucent material) .
    Check out the results and of course the great step-by-step tutorial on the 3D lithophane process posted by G.P. Le Sage.

    I have to add a personal note (and this is in no way to belittle results of GPLS’s work) but to me personally the lithophane pictures have a distinct Paranormal Activity flavor and may be in great demand around Halloween time 🙂 – that leaves us just enough time to master the technique and be ready to come up with ghostly images of loved ones before October 31st!

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