Unveiling the Art of 3D Print Lithophane: A Comprehensive Guide

1. Choosing an Image

3d print lithophane

Reference : https://www.liqcreate.com/supportarticles/how-to-make-lithophanes-with-liqcreate-premium-white-resin/

The creation of a 3d print lithophane starts with selecting a suitable image. Monochrome or grayscale images often work best, as they provide the necessary contrast to achieve a detailed 3D print photo.

2. Conversion to Grayscale

If your image is not already in grayscale, it must be converted to this mode. The varying shades of gray will translate into different thicknesses in the final lithophane 3d print.

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3. Image to 3D Model Conversion

Software like Cura or Lithophane Maker can be used to convert the image into a 3D model. During this process, the grayscale image’s shades will be transformed into different layers of thickness, creating the illusion of a 3D picture when lit.

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Reference : https://itslitho.com/lithophane-guides/turn-an-image-into-a-cool-3d-model-no-lithophane/

4. Printing Settings

The settings of the lithophane 3D printer play a crucial role in achieving a perfect 3d printed lithophane. Print resolution, layer height, and printing speed must be carefully adjusted. A layer height of 0.1mm to 0.2mm is often recommended.

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Reference : https://itslitho.com/itslitho-blog/slicer-settings-for-lithophanes-tweaking-to-perfection/

5. Printing the Lithophane

Using a suitable lithophane 3d printer, you can now print the 3D model. It is generally recommended to use white PLA filament, as it diffuses light effectively. A 100% infill is often used to ensure that the lithophane is solid, and the contrasts are sharp.

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Reference : https://all3dp.com/2/3d-printed-lithophane-lamp/

6. Illumination

The final step involves illuminating the 3D print lithophane from behind, either using natural sunlight or artificial light sources. The varying thicknesses of the print will reveal the image in an exciting and captivating way.

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Reference : https://thes3d.gr/illumination-through-3d-printing-art-history-lithophane-night-light/

Benefits of Lithophane 3D Printing

Personalized Gifts: A lithophane 3D print offers an excellent way to create personalized gifts, turning a cherished photo into a unique piece of art.

Artistic Exploration: Artists can explore new dimensions in their work, pushing the boundaries of creativity.

Education: It’s a perfect tool for educational purposes, teaching the concepts of lithography, 3D modeling, and 3D printing in an engaging manner.

Challenges and Considerations

Material Selection: The choice of material can make or break the quality of the final lithophane 3d print. A trial-and-error approach may be required to find the best-suited material.

Printer Calibration: Proper calibration of the lithophane 3D printer is crucial. Any misalignment can lead to distortions in the final print.

Copyright Concerns: If reproducing existing artwork or photographs, it is essential to consider copyright laws and obtain necessary permissions.


3D print lithophane is a fascinating fusion of traditional lithography and modern 3D printing technology. The ability to turn a simple photo into a textured 3D print opens doors for artists, hobbyists, and educators to explore new avenues of creativity and innovation.

Whether used to create personalized gifts or as a tool for artistic exploration, lithophane 3D printing offers a unique and captivating way to express oneself. With attention to details, appropriate choice of materials, and proper calibration of the lithophane 3D printer, the art of 3D printed lithophane can become an enriching and fulfilling endeavor, illuminating images with a touch of magic and wonder.

In recent years, the popularity of 3D print lithophane has surged, finding applications not only in personal projects but also in professional art exhibits and educational curricula. Schools and universities are incorporating lithophane 3D printing into their teaching methodologies, helping students understand the intertwined relationship between art, technology, and mathematics. 

Artists are embracing the technique to push the boundaries of traditional artistic mediums, creating tactile and dynamic works that engage audiences in new and unexpected ways. Businesses are leveraging the unique appeal of 3D printed lithophanes for marketing and branding purposes, offering customized products that resonate with their target audiences. The expansive potential of this art form demonstrates the limitless possibilities of human creativity when empowered by technological innovation.

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