If you are looking for your next 3D Printing Project, you need not look any further. 3D printed photos, also known as 3D Printed Lithophanes, are an extremely unique and creative application that is sure to “WOW” most people that come across them.
What is a Lithophane you might ask? Well, a Lithophane is a 3D representation of a photo that can only be seen when illuminated from behind. A gray-scale representation of the image is created and then depending on the color it is then converted to a calculated 3D printed height. This allows a specific amount of light to shine through. Darker colors block more light and the opposite relationship stands for lighter pixels. Each pixel in the image undergoes this process and a very unique art piece is created.
What are these good for? These make wonderful gifts for any occasion. If you’re like me, I like to give unique custom gifts that are a little more personal than the norm. This is the perfect way to achieve that. I made a few mother’s day gift for my friends this year, and this Christmas people are sure to receive some of these from me! Plus, it’s a cool way to highlight 3D printing which is not familiar to everyone.
This instructable is designed to give you one path (of many possibilities) to create and 3D print a photo. I plan on going over; the basic considerations of choosing a photo that will give you the best results, sizing an image to prepare it for STL creation, one software example of how to convert the image into an STL, and different ways to light and display the 3D Print.