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Lithophanes from fossil photos using 3D printers.

There are many wonderful free to use fossil photos, especially on Wikipedia...

...and these photos can be used to make bas relief copies of the original fossil...

Bas relief of fossil with 3d printer

...as well as lithophanes for back lighting...

Lithophane of fossil fish

I used PhotoToMesh V7 to create the 3D printer STL file. V7 because I needed to use a rough rectangle to make the fossil look more "rugged". Here's how to do it.

Run PhotoToMesh V7 and open your fossil fish image. You'll see the image import wizard:

Just click on OK until you get to the main screen of PhotoToMesh... (you may see something different according to what you were doing when you last closed the program, for example Rectangular Slab)

Now click on the Vignette Settings... button and make sure you have chosen None...

Next change the Solid Shape combo to Flat Shape... (again what you see may be different, be patient, we're getting there!)...

After you've chosen Flat Shape click on Other Settings... as shown below and choose Rough-Rectangle.DXF in the dialog which pops up...

What you get next probably does not have the image centered and sized correctly on the "flat rock"....

...and the last step is to click on the Image Placement... and adjust the settings so that the whole of the image covers the whole of the "rock"...

Note above how I've made the image 101% bigger (Height and Width sliders) than the actual "rock" so that no borders show. Set the Smoothing slider to something between 0.03 and 0.06, click on Recreate Model and see the final result:

Now use the File menu to save your STL file. For a more detailed STL file increase the X Samples and Y Samples to 450 or more each. Print the STL file e voila!

PhotoToMesh program has a free demo (no sign up, no log-in) which you can download by clicking on the button below:

(The original fish fossil image was uploaded to WikiPedia by Cesiumfrog).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


The printing of a star shaped lithophane

 

 




 
 


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