Looking for the best PLA filament for lithophanes? Read our guide to learn of 3 filaments that we recommend for 3D printing lithophanes.
Recently, we decided to get into the trend of 3D printing lithophanes. Our goal was to find out the filament that would produce the perfect lithophane pictures.
If you want to print 3D printed lithophanes, there are a number of important things you should know. After reading this guide, you will know things such as the ideal print settings as well as other information that will help you to successfully print your first lithophanes.
Which is the Best Filament for Lithophanes?
Printing lithophanes can be quite tricky. You want to get the right print settings as well as use the ideal filament.
It is possible to print 3D lithophanes using PETG and other materials. However, from our tests, PLA is the best filament to you. The only time we would recommend using any material apart from PLA is if you are planning to keep your lithophane outside or in a hot area.
In terms of quality, there is no really big difference between the lithophanes printed with PLA or PETG. However, the setup process of the two filaments is quite different. With PETG, you’ll have to tweak your 3D printer’s settings more to get it working.
The best filaments for lithophanes are white PLA ones. You won’t miss a white filament from the best filament brands on the market. For the most part, these filaments work similarly. Therefore, you may want to go with one that has given you great results in the past with your printer.
3 Best PLA Filament for Lithophanes
1. ERYONE PLA
For our experiment, we used the ERYONE PLA, which is available on Amazon.
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The filament does not tangle nor jam the nozzles during a print. This is a great quality PLA filament for lithophane.
2. 3D Solutech Real White
The 3D Solutech White PLA has an orange tint to it. Depending on what you would like to printer, the filament may be right for you. For example, if you want your lithophane to have a sunset effect, this filament would be great.
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3. eSUN White PLA+
If you are on a budget, you might want to try a cheaper white PLA filament, such as the eSUN White PLA+
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The eSUN White PLA+ has raving reviews from customers on Amazon. This filament has a dimensional accuracy of 0.05mm. Therefore, you won’t have to deal with under extrusion issues.
How to Create Lithophanes
Creating lithophanes is quite easy. You can use a software like 3DP Rocks to generate lithophanes from any photo. The software eliminates the difficult work of creating lithophanes on your own.
The software breaks down your photos into levels of colors to expose dark and light areas. The result? A very beautiful picture.
When your lithophane image is ready, you can download it and import the STL file into your slicer.
Best Lithophane Software
We’ve tried a couple of lithophane software and were particularly impressed with the following:
Lithophane Maker is modern software offers you more choices in terms of editing your picture. However, the software has many settings and you can quickly get overwhelmed if you were just looking for a simple lithophane.
If you have already made a few lithophanes and are looking for more options, this is a great software.
Here are some of the options you’ll find in the software:
- Ceiling Fan Lithophane Maker
- Lithophane Globe Maker
- Night Light Lithophane Maker
- Heart Lithophane Maker
- Lithophane Lamp Maker
3DP Rocks is an easy software to use. The software has a short learning curve and is, therefore, a great option if you are looking to quickly get started with printing lithophanes.
Which Are the Best Lithophane Settings?
- Set the cooling at around 70 percent to 80 percent
- No support or heated bed is needed. You only need to use the usual heated bed setting
- The layer height should be 0.2mm. However, the lower the better. We used 0.15 mm height
- Set the infill at 100%
The perimeter/outline shell has a wide range. The middle is around 5 but you can go up to 10 or more. Even a 1 perimeter shell works. Therefore, you shouldn’t really worry much about this.
To ensure that the nozzle does not accidentally leave residue on the outside of the perimeter when traveling, set the ‘Combing Mode’ in Cura to ‘All’. If you are using Simplify3D, the setting is called ‘Avoid Crossing Outline for Travel Movements’. Make sure the setting is checked.
Tips for Printing a Great Lithophane
There are different orientations for creating lithophanes. We typically use the ‘Outer Curve’ model on 3DP Rocks. This option works pretty well in terms of quality and can stand up by itself due to the shape.
For better results, you should 3D printer lithophanes vertically rather than laying them flat.
In 3DP Rocks, there is a ‘Thickness (mm)’ setting that you can play around with. The higher you set the setting, the better the quality of print you will get.
When you set the Thickness (mm) setting higher, it processes your picture more finely. Therefore, any gray levels will be shown off. We’ve found that a 3mm lithophane thickness works fine most of the time.
However, with the Thickness setting up, your lithophane will take longer to print. Also, the thicker the lithophane, the stronger the light that will be required behind I to properly display the picture.
You can use a border to give your picture some contract. 3mm will work fine for most borders. You can also use a raft when printing your lithophanes to improve stability during printing and protect the corners from warping.
When printing lithophanes, you want all the details to be captured. Therefore, you should not print them too fast. Keep the printing speed at 30 – 40 mm/s.
You can print lithophanes on any budget printer, such as the Ender 3 or Creality CR-10s. However, if you have a premium printer, this is even better.
If you wish, you can put the lithophane image in a photo editor and apply different picture effects. This can help to smooth out the rough transitions and make the overall print better.
Best Filament Color for Lithophanes
The best filament color for lithophanes is white. Light passes through white filaments a lot better. This is why white lithophanes tend to be of higher quality than those made of other colors.
However, you don’t have to print lithophanes in white. If you wish, you can print lithophanes with colored filaments. However, with these lithophanes, light won’t pass through them in the same way as in white filament.
You can print lithophanes in any color (see image below).
However, for the best details, you want to stay with white PLA filaments.
From our tests, the best PLA filament for lithophanes is ERYONE White PLA. Lithophanes come out best when they are printed in very light color. We found PLA the easiest filament to use for lithophanes.
Other people have also had success with the LABIST PLA filaments.