Introduction: 3D Printed Stained Glass Light Decoration

I am always intrigued by beautiful stained glass in museum and churches. The type of glass art has exist for thousand years, traditionally colored glass are created with the additive of mineral powders. the whole process takes long time to make with skilled craftsman. My idea is to create similar form with the aid of 3d printing, simplify the process, replace glass and metal frame with plastic, resin and readily available materials.

Traditionally, stained glass wall decorations have mostly be seen on churches, museums and significant buildings, by utilizing 3d printing we can make our own 3d printed stained glass decoration at home. (The 3d printing files are attached)

Step 1: Find Reference and Prepare the Template for 3d Modeling

There are many image references on online find one with clear and complete border. I chose a peaceful dove image with moderate details and vibrant colors. The image is then import to Photoshop for enhancement.

The dark edges will all be 3d printed with opaque color filament. the colored glass will be filled with color dyed clear resin.

Step 1. Refine the dark edges on the image. use magic wand to grab all the dark color area, transfer to a separate layer. if the result does not have crisp sharp edge then bump up the level of contrast. highlight and shadow should have a clear separation with no fussy lines. delete the other layers so only the black silhouette and white background is shown

Step 2. Use paint brush tool to paint on edges that are pixelated or too thin. also add thick straight lines to areas have weak connection.

Step 3. invert the image ( white to black, black to white) set to gray scale and flatten the image. Save as template for Zbrush shadowbox.

Step 2: Zbrush Shadow Box and Refine

Step 1. Open Zbrush and set shadow box to high resolution setting, I set up 2million poly count. import and drag the template shadow box, within seconds an extrusion of the template is displayed on the screen.

Step 2. The thickness can be adjusted by click deformation and lower the size number on one axis. I made it fairly thin because I know the whole piece will be enlarged when printing.

Step 3. Mask the back side of the model. use inflate/standard/pinch brush to create a more natural rising surface, a tiny amount of inflation can also create outer bevelled edge, it will create a more realistic look when pouring the resin.

Step 4. Section the whole model into smaller pieces, close holes. and set the dimension on 3d printing exporter. I divided to 39 smaller pieces and exported to separate STL files. the Overall dimension is roughly 65cm oral shape with 5mm thickness.

Step 3: 3D Printing, Assembly and Post Finish

The printing process took quite some time. I roughly used 2 kg of gray ABS plastic to print all 39 pieces of the puzzle. Once it is all done I cleaned them and lightly sand the surface, then glue back to together like a jigsaw puzzle. I used contact cement for this application.

I sprayed metallic antique putter paint to give it an aged metal finish, then lightly rubbed some black acrylic paint to give it aged effect.

Once the front is painted, firmly tape all of the backside with masking tapes. The goal here is to have good adhesion on the plastic however remain easy to remove from resin. the sticky side of the tape with be in contact with liquid resin once cured it will leave a frosted finish that is hard to achieve by other means.

Step 4: Cast Resin Into 3d Printed Frame

This is quite straightforward, mix color resins and pour it into the cavities on the 3d printed parts.

Step 1. Add transparent color dyes to small batch of epoxy resin. Use low viscosity fast cure clear epoxy resin for the better result. add only a few drops of dye and pour at steady rate. I poured less color added resin towards the center, and poured clear no color added resin in the dove. this will make the dove glow the brightest, create a radiant light ray from the center.

Step 2. I mixed cooler color ( blue/ green/ purple) and poured on the edges. Traditionally, many stained glass have blue dominant color scene. knowing this piece is for home decoration, therefore, I colored it towards the warmer spectrum.

Step 3. Let it complete cure. make sure no leaking from the back. by pouring different color at different times I could also have swirl color on few of the cavities.

Step 5: Peel Off the Back and Ready to Use

When the resin completely cures it will bond all the 3d printed pieces together. flip it and peel off all the masking tapes. scrape off leaked resin, it is now ready to use! Simply place in on the window it will glow with vibrant colors. To take a step further, I wanted to install LED light on the back so it will certainly glow at anytime of the day and can be hang on walls as a piece of art.

Step 6: Install Back Panel and LED Unit

Step 1.I trace and cut a 1/8'' MDF board to the exact opal shape then glued on glossy white paper to give it better reflection.

Step 2. I quickly modeled spacers in 3ds max. the purpose of spacer is to hold LED strips in position that maximize the luminosity while stay hidden from the front view. The pin hold LED strips in 90 degree angle, I placed 40 of then to hold wire and LED in place to evenly distribute the light source.

Step 3. measure the depth of the whole piece and then use special bolt to secure the back panel to the front. the spacers in between will make sure LED strips are not pushed by the back panel.

Step 7: Adding Side Grill for Side Glow

The side grills are 3d printed segments, the grills provides good amount of air flow to the LEDs it also gives the rim a soft glow. I spray painted with the same antique putter metallic paint. glue it to the side and pull out the out put plug. now is nearly complete and ready to hang on the Wall

Step 8: Complete

I added a dim-able switch and hang it in the bedroom wall.

The complete piece is a close replication of traditional made stained glass artwork. The colors are vibrant and it has a nice texture close assemble antique colored glass and metal, one can hardly imagine it is 3d printed. the dove imagery is really peaceful and overall it was not difficult to make with minimal machinery/skills required. though it is made of plastic and resin, the MDF back panel and the thickness of the 3D printed parts added reasonable amount of weight.

The concept of this project is to bridge consumer level 3d printing technology with existing craft. consumer level printer can be used in many applications, in combination with other fabrication method it can achieve greater result.

3D Printing Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
3D Printing Contest 2016