In this project students create a 3D printed lithophane, which is then mounted onto a 3D printed lightbox casing.

A lithophane is a 3D print of a photograph or image, where grey-scale is printed in different thicknesses. The print allows various amounts of light to pass through from behind. When illuminated from behind it gives the appearance of a 3 dimensional photo.

In this project Codebug and GlowBugs and GlowBugs are used to make the individual lithophanes light up. GlowBugs are full colour LEDs (with over 16 million possible colours!) that are really easy to control through the CodeBug. Up to 10 GlowBugs can be connected to a single CodeBug and the CodeBug can be programmed to control the GlowBug colours, timing and sequences.

Here is an example of a program running:

View, download or remix this example CodeBug program

The following resources are available to download for this project:

  • Lithophane & Lightbox Tutorial: This details the process for creating the individual lithophanes and the lightbox.
  • CodeBug & GlowBug Tutorial: This explains how to connect and program the CodeBug and GlowBugs and how to assemble and hard wire them into the lightbox to complete the project.
  • Lightbox .STL Files: A series of files for different configurations of lightboxes, simply select and download the configuration(s) you require and open them up directly in Cura to slice the files ready to print.

Log in to download the resources.

Available lightbox .STL configurations

In The Classroom

This Computing project is perfect example of how 3D Printing technology can be utilised to enable physical computing and enhance delivery of the Computing Curriculum by providing students with a programming project that has a physical outcome.

Although this project has been developed to utilise CodeBugs and GlowBugs, it can easily be adapted to run with a Crumble and Sparkles or via a MicroBit, Raspberry Pi or other single board computer or microcomputer wired to LED’s. The holes through from the rear to the front of the casing are exactly 5mm so that they will accommodate and grip a single 5mm LED.

This project could also form part of a larger photography project around a theme, students can identify and take photographs then select and edit a specific photograph to 3D print as a lithophane. Alternatively this project could be incorporated into an art project where students produce a pencil sketch of a subject or a design, then scan or photogrpah the sketch to produce the lithophane from.