Lithophane of the Moon

I’ve had the Bambu Lab X1C for about a week now. Since even before I purchased it, one of the things I really wanted to print was this Lithophane of the Moon by Frank Deschner over on Printables.Com. It is a damn huge print, taking up most of the print area of the device. Maybe its huge but hell, it was worth it! I’ve posted previously about my astrophotography and photos of the Moon, and this is a continuation of the theme.

In case you don’t know, from Wikipedia: a lithophane is a thin plaque of translucent material, normally porcelain, which has been moulded to varying thickness, such that when lit from behind the different thicknesses show as different shades, forming an image. Only when lit from behind does the image display properly. In 3D printing, it’s created by various layers, thicknesses, and even colors printed under the white layers displaying an image when backlit.

In the case of this project, the lithophane was a superimposed on a globe using images sourced from NASA 2019 CGI Moon Kit images. This was then mapped to a hollow 9″ diameter sphere to send to the printer. This globe will sit on a lamp stand to light it up from the inside. Printing this monster took over 27 hours, and that’s not including the stand that is printing up as I am writing this.

One of the cool things about the Bambu Labs X1C (other than its speed, accuracy and ease of use) is the internal camera that creates timelapse videos of its printing. I threw together the video below using Adobe Premiere Rush and put it up on my YouTube channel. (And yes, I see the blob of orange PETG from something I printed right before this and it fell right off when completed.)

[youtube-feed feed=3]

Here is an image of the finished print, holding an LED flashlight inside so you can see all of the features, textures and details of the final print. I mean look at that – the details and textures are stunning in their accuracy.

3D Printed Lithophane of the Moon
3D Printed Lithophane of the Moon – lit up from its interior.

I printed this using Hatchbox Granite PLA, because I wanted a more natural texture and I felt it would work better than a generic white plastic. I was absolutely correct. For the filament, in my slicer, I cut the Max Vol Flow to 10mm3/sec, and the hot-end I set to 220°C, and I used a glue stick to help adhesion to the Bambu Lab cool plate. Sparse Fill was set to 100% to keep things solid, and other than that it was set and forget for 27 hours or so. Ok, that’s a bit of bullshit – I watched it a lot when I was home and it was printing. This was the longest and most intricate print I’ve done yet, and I was nervous as hell it would go sideways at some point… but Murphy gave me a pass 👍🏻

I’ll update this post later when the light stand is finished and I get the parts to put the lamp hardware together.

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