Lithophane Display with Multiple Configurations and Storage Caddy

by JRSly Feb 28, 2018
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Hi, I'm working on making this with family photos for my dad and I am wondering if you could recommend an ABS filament? I have eSun PLA in cool white that I was going to use, but I've read here (and elsewhere) about the LED strips getting too warm for the PLA. I've only printed lithophanes with PLA, so I am unfamiliar with how white ABS compares to white PLA. I have some white PETG, but I haven't used it yet and am not sure if it would come out too transparent.

Very neat design!
I've just printed the Powerbox, but it doesn't seem to fit the Base at all.
2 pegs are at the right position and the other 2 don't come in.
Can you post some photos how your box is assembled?
Has someone else tried to fit this Powerbox on the assembly?

Originally I wanted to fit 1,2 m 12V LED Strip inside. But it got so hot that the PLA started geting soft.
Now I will order 3 12V 5W G4 lights and design an extra center for it.

Edit: Simplify3D confirmed. A photo of it is attached. 2 pegs don't fit making it impossible to fit together.
I tried to import as STL to Solidworks and modify it but it seems to too complex to identify the file was a solid body. Could you fix it or or send me the STEP file from Base or Powerbox?

Also same issue. Power box doesn't fit

Just snip 2 bits out of the plate that holds the centre

Hi, some very specific question, sorry for it - I printed my lithophanes in 100cm width but with 4:3 ratio, is there anything I can change in configuration to make it work for me?


I made a holder that can be wall mounted with Command strips and a remote holder for this.

Lithophane Lamp Holder: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3368098

LED Light Remote Holder: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3368117

Lithophane Lamp Holder
LED Light Remote Holder

That's very neat, thanks for linking it! Nice and sleek and I like how it has some angles that make it gel with the holder, complements it very well!

These just keep getting better!!! I was looking for a way to do EXACTLY that...wall mount using COMMAND! Can't wait to run this one off tonight.

what would you expect to charge for this?

I've thought about adding it to my Etsy store, I'm sure, as a concept, it would be popular. But it's tricky, I'm afraid it would end up being too expensive to be very retail friendly. I may have to do a test run at higher speeds with my new printer to see if I can improve the time, but when I first designed this and printed on my Mini Select, it would take...gosh, I think 10-12 hours to print everything for the holder. And then each lithophane takes 3-4 hours, printing slowly for stability and higher quality. So at my typical rate, a whole set would be like ~$70. No matter how neat it is, I just don't see people jumping at that price.

I know it's a popular idea though, I may go back to the drawing board and do a slimmed down, more minimal version designed to print quicker and be more feasible to consider selling.

So with the battery config, do you need to open it each time to turn it on? If so, how long do the batteries last when on 24X7? I'm trying to use this design, but 4 panels and usb powered

I can't speak much to the battery powered config, I only have the USB setup currently operating. I made the battery options just to cover all the bases, but didn't have plans to use it for an extended amount of time. With the lights I purchased and linked too, they do have a timer option, where they'll stay on for, I believe, 6 hours and then turn off for 18, turn on automatically again. So that would be one way to have to avoid futzing with it every day by hand.

If you'd like to have USB power, there's another option. This past summer I helped someone else by designing a couple new pieces, a hollow base for the whole display to sit on and a replacement center piece with a cutout in the bottom. With this setup, you can have USB lights inside, run the cable down through the center piece and into the hollow base and out; rather than running the cable out the fourth panel of the display. I've just uploaded those two files, LithophaneHolder_PowerBox and LithophaneHolder_CenterForPowerBox...check them out and see if everything I said makes sense, see if this setup would work for what you want to do.

This is fantasic JRSly! You have some real talent. I wish I knew 3d design as well as you did. I do have a question. The bottom box, seems to be perfect to scale (I scaled everything to 111.11% to fit 100mm lithos. Anyhow, it appears that the upper portion with the columns should 'snap' into place using the retaining clips on the new bottom portion? I simply cant get it to snap into place without it bending in some of the sides. For now, I'm thinking about cutting them off and simply gluing the top to the bottom but 1st wanted to see if my assumption was wrong on those 4 nubs sticking up. Either way BEAUTIFUL design. I've now made 15 of these for family and friends and they can't get enough! Sending a tip your way the moment I get paid!

Hmm, sorry about that. I'll admit I have not printed that piece fully myself, only did a quick fit-test partial print. They don't really snap into place so much, just sit snugly. I just wanted a quick way to get the pieces to align and stay in place. But I definitely didn't make it so tight that you'd have to bend the tabs at all...that sounds like something possibly went wrong in the design process. I'll try to check it out this week. I guess depending on exactly what lighting hardware you have, gluing might be a hindrance or not. Well, I suppose you can gain access to it well enough when the lithophanes and center post are taken out.

Thanks very much for the kind words, it's really rewarding to see so many people enjoying the design and sharing it with others.

I printed two examples of this set as Christmas gifts for family. What a nice little object this is! It prints very easily and goes together well. The posts that are meant to hold the caps in place were only in the way! no amount of sanding or filing made them fit so I cut and filed them off. I printed a bunch of lithophanes to fill two cubes and half of a holder. Now my family members can send me pictures via email and I can litho them for their cubes. As with most examples mine are in black. I think it looks best that way. I found that the textured surface on this object allowed for VERY fast printing (175%) without impacting the look of the finished product. GREAT design! Thank you for a very classy looking item.

is it easy to modify it for 100x100x3 panes?

Comments deleted.

I have afew questions about lithophanes in general I hope you don't mind. DO the ones with a little color in them use colored lights? Can you use colored PLA? I tried to print one but at about 4 inches high it started to go wavy, is that because I was going to fast (60mm/s)? What speed do you print at? Thanks for your help

Hey, I'm not an expert but hopefully I can help get you going. Are you referring to ones seen in my listing here? or are you talking about colored ones in general? In this listing, all my lithophanes are white and I have color changing LEDs in my display. I never have, but you could probably use certain colored PLA as long as it was lighter and a bit on the transparent side of the spectrum. I'd say that is way too fast. You're tempting the fates printing lithophanes in any situation, with such a tall model and narrow base, so slow things down and give it the best chance at success. Fast speeds, at least on my printer, also result in sloppier, streakier "pictures". In my case, I print typical models only at 45, maybe 50 at the fastest if it's something functional and not an art piece. And lithophanes I print at 28-30 mm/s. Just to give you a relative idea of how much I adjust my speeds.

I was referring to the ones in your listing and wondering about using colored plastic. I guess I'll have to experiment with colored pla for myself since I'm running out of white Thanks for your help and a great design

Hello, I love the design! Any chance you could make a variation to accept 100x100x3 lithophanes? I'm making a bunch of photo cubes for my cousins wedding, and I've already printed all the photo panels. I can try to scale it up, but I'm afraid the photos will be too loose.

Thanks! I checked my files and tried resizing things and I really don't think you'll run into any problems simply scaling this file up. As is, the width of the slot for the lithophanes is 3.8mm and scaling everything up to accommodate 100mm lithophanes makes this space increase to only ~4.2 mm. It's larger, yes, but the space was already pretty generous to make sliding them in and out easy and I've never felt like they rattled around too much. If you want to scale the files up, scale them to 111.11 percent and they'll be sized up precisely to accept 100mm pictures.

I can vouch for JRSly the 3d modeling genius I wish I had as a IRL friend hahaha. The 111.11 upscale on every part works PERFECT for 100x100 lithos.

How thick should the lithophanes be printed?

It's designed to accommodate 3mm thick panels.

Hello! I have make one. I place at the same time 4 details from variant A - the box the cover the central cylynder and the back wall. It is looks very nice, but so long time for build... 28 hours or near that... It can be made much more quickli if slightly redesign the project. May be make more parts and then glue them. ..
But thank's - very nice looks...

How big of a border should I add to the lithophanes?

I didn't create any border with mine, I only added a black glow around the edge to create a solid black point so the website would create a file that had a solid, square face on all four sides.

Thanks for the update! I just printed it out yesterday, so I'm little bummed I missed out on the new pegs, but I'll definitely be printing this out over and over. Thank you very much for sharing this model.

I'm thinking about printing it out bigger. Could I print it out at 133% and use lithopanes that are 4mm thick and 120mm on a side? Did I get my math right on that?

Ahh, dang...it was one of those silly things I totally should've thought of the second I decided to do separate caps but I was just getting a little quick and sloppy near the end I suppose. :) Thanks for the kind words, I look forward to making more in the future myself.

Looking at my file and measuring, that math seems to all check out perfectly to me! Should be just about the same clearances for the lithophane to slide in. And the nice thing is if you wanted to be cautious, you can print the holder and then do a small bar 120mm x 4mm x whatever and make sure it drops in properly. I've only ever made lithophanes 3mm thick, so I'm not sure if a millimeter thick would make much of a difference as far as how well it is illuminated...probably not but might be something to check out. Even if you had to keep the lithophanes 3mm thick, I don't think it would be a big deal and make them too rattly or sit askew.

This is a great model, and it's been getting a lot of compliments from my friends. You should definitely be proud of this project. I can't wait to see what a big one looks like. Maybe you could even try to print the holder in clear plastic or colored translucent PLA? I guess that might look cool. I might try to do just a top for one to try it out.

Very good idea concerning the 'sample' print. I'll have to do that. I have been printing all my lithopanes at 4mm since that seemed to look a little better than 3mm and it wasn't too far from the default, but I have not been experimenting to find an optimal depth. I can report that a 4mm lithopane fits into the standard sized model after a minute or two of shaving the edges down with an knife. I've got pictures here (https://imgur.com/a/BJy6r). Here is a link to the $6 light I used (http://a.co/1XzJQjD). I utilized the warm white version because I had it on hand, but the cool white might look better.

Are your lithos printed using SLA? They are SUPER clean. I'm getting my B9 creator up and running again just for these. I plan on printing the lamps with my 2 makerbots and lithos using my DLP SLA.....brings print time from 10 hrs for 4 to 45 minutes. Now I only wander how much longer it takes to print using white resin vs the black I mosty use. Im hoping its not 4x the time because it's white and naturally reflects light back. B9 does not even make white resin....thankfully I can use 3rd party resins. Either way, your's look fantastic.

Very cool! I haven't shared a ton of files yet, so it's surreal to see the design in other people's homes..very neat. Thanks for sharing. I'd like to try some other materials..I'd really like to try a woodfill one someday, all sanded and stained. I'd be curious to see your test top if you make one, my thinking when designing and printing was to treat the holder like a picture frame, to end up being kinda invisible once illuminated. But I could see how it might look good if the holder was translucent and lit up a bit too. Now I'm really curious about a holder made with the same white as the lithophanes, that could end up looking really magical.

That's interesting to hear and see about the 4mm! I could see how that could help get some deeper blacks with the slightly translucent eSun filament I've been using. I'll have to experiment with that.

i love it. it is a great design and fits perfectly.
only i dont like this glueing part.at the storage caddy but it is even better than work with support.
thxx a lot for sharing.

So glad to hear a success story! I'm always anxious that there's some little part of the process I forgot...some issue I had to sort out in assembling cause all the pieces weren't perfect right off the print bed, something like that. Glad to hear it seems to print and come together pretty easily.

I totally agree with the caddy, but we're on the same page that a little glue is better than supports. I try to avoid supports as much as humanly possible. Though after uploading I did realize I probably could've made a peg and hole for the corners so they'd pop into proper place a little easier. I think I'll add that and update the file.

Love that super shiny finish on your holder!

WOW , your lithophane's printed quality is so good . Can I know which slicer and what settings you use ? I wanted to print as perfect as you , but I tried so many times and settings to get as perfect as I can , but still not good enough . And I really like your litho frame design , keep going . Your the best . LIKE LIKE

Thanks very much! I struggled at first last fall and was pretty discouraged. Honestly, I think what really turned things around for me was a change in plastic. Last fall I was using Hatchbox White and had no great results...stringiness and streaking with seemingly no consistent causes to try to work around. All of these lithophanes pictured were made with eSun Warm White PLA+ and it's been a complete pleasure from the first one. Besides the change in plastic, I think the next best advice would be to go nice and slow. And lower your Outline Underspeed setting a bit more than a typical print too. Just to give the printer every chance to produce careful, precise movements.

I use Simplify3D and my speed for these was around 20-25 mm/s. I have a MP Select Mini which is a bit slow in general, most of mt printing is done at 40-55 mm/s depending on just how nice and clean things need to turn out. So maybe whatever speed you feel comfortable printing at, cut it approximately in half for lithophanes. It might be overkill, but more so than other types of prints these need to look really nice right off the print bed. You can't really sand or paint or so anything to post-process...so the extra time spent is worth it. My outline underspeed I think is usually around ~60%, and for these I dropped it down to 35%. The layer height I used was .13125, if that seems odd, it's a magic number for the Select Mini's stepper motor. As mentioned, with the low speed, these can take a while to print, and I found very little improvement going any lower than .13125.

I also had a lot of warping when I first tried to make lithophanes. One corner would lift off and best case scenario, the bottom half would be distorted and wonky looking, usually the lithophane would come off the bed and fail completely. So another key to success was using helper disks to help give the lithophane some support. Once I started using them, I haven't had a single warping related failure. These are the disks I used... https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:346319 Put them at the corners, and a couple along the edge of the lithophane and it's not going anywhere. Lower the z-height on them to be about the same as the layer height you're printing at, they don't need to be really beefy to add security to the print.

I hope this might be some helpful tips that you may not have tried yet. If you have anymore specific questions I could try to answer, don't hesitate to ask.

Helper Disk Small

links to LED's and lights are busted.

Thanks very much for the heads up! Should be fixed now.