Hopefully, you are familiar with lithophanes. If you aren’t, be sure to check out my other 3d lithophane article. In that article, I went over some slicer settings to get good quality lithophanes. This time though, we’re going to make something FUN with our litho.. a Lithophane Night Light!
What All Do I Need?
This article will require you to combine two different model files into a single model. If you are comfortable with this, then by all means, skip that part of the article. The easiest way to accomplish this task is with Cura 3.6.
You will also need to go to the Dollar Tree or an equivalent store and get an LED night light. I recommend LED, because PLA will warp with the heat output from a regular incandescent bulb. You don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night with a house fire. I chose this model made by Sunbeam. For your custom lithophane night light to work, the barrel of the light has to be between 19-20mm in diameter.
Also, be sure to download my lithophane bracket model from here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3482016 . We will be combining this with your lithophane model to make it fit snug on the night light.
I will be printing this model on my Aladdinbox Skycube. It does an adequate job for lithophanes and this is a perfect job for it’s small print bed.
Let’s Get Started!
To start, you need to head to http://3dp.rocks/lithophane/ , to use their free lithophane generator, and setup your image for the litho conversion. I will be using this royalty free image from Pexels.com of two hands forming a heart. This time we will set the model to the ‘Outer Curve‘ and limit our ‘Maximum Size‘ under ‘Model Settings‘ to 50mm. It will be a smaller lithophane, but will be perfect from the small light of our LED night light. Go to ‘Download‘ and save your litho somewhere handy.
After downloading your lithophane’s STL file, open up Cura. Like I mentioned earlier, I am using Cura 3.6 and can confirm that the following process works. To configure, you will need to go to the menu bar, and then go to ‘Preferences‘ and choose ‘Configure Cura‘. From here, look under the ‘Viewpoint Behavior‘ and uncheck the box for ‘Automatically drop models to the build plate‘. This will allow us to stack the two models on top of each other from inside Cura!
Time to Combine!
Now, you need to open up the bracket model within Cura. This will center it on your printer’s build plate. Next, add the lithophane that you created. Since my bracket is 3mm tall, we are going to move the lithophane for your night light UP on the Z axis by 2.9mm. Select the lithophane model by clicking it with the cursor and then press ‘T‘ button on your keyboard. This will cause the ‘Movement‘ box to open. Change your values to these values ‘X:0,Y:5, Z:2.9‘. Do this by single clicking the value for each axis, entering the new value, and then pressing enter. As you press enter each time, the lithophane should snap to the new position and hopefully end up looking like the picture below.
Choose to view your models in ‘Layer View‘ by selecting it from the drop down in the top right corner of your model’s display area. There will be a slider directly underneath the drop down, near the bottom of the screen. Go through all of the layers and make sure there are no gaps where we have combined the two models. This is just for double checking, but if it looks like there might be a gap, go back to the ‘Movement’ menu and lower your ‘Z’ value of the lithophane by another ‘0.1mm’ until it looks fine.
Time to Print Your Night Light!
Now it is time to print! Since this night light’s image is only 50mm tall, it would be best to print this at 0.1mm layer height or smaller. You should also consult my other lithophane article where I list the rest of the settings to achieve the best results. I printed this in Geeetech White PLA.
Lithophane Night Light, Assemble!
After your print is done, remove it from the build plate and unbox your store bought night light. After that, you need to remove the hood from the store bought night light. For the model I purchased, you just have to slide the old light diffuser off from the front. After that, you can simply slide your 3D printed piece over the LED assembly. It should fit nice and snug. If you find the fit is too tight, use a little sandpaper on the inside of the hole for the bracket. If it’s too loose, you can dot it with a small amount of super glue to keep it in place.
After it is all assembled, plug it in, turn off the lights and take a step back. Then, you can let everyone in the house gather around and ‘oooh‘ and ‘aaah‘ your newest creation. Pat yourself on the back.. you done did good.
In summary, this is a fantastic use for lithophanes. Besides being useful, a lithophane night light can also make a great gift. I had a good amount of fun doing this and it really made my daughter’s day when I gave it to her.
Need something else to print? Check out these seven 3D printed tools to add to your work bench!