Glow in the Dark UFO Lamp





Introduction: Glow in the Dark UFO Lamp

Inspired by the various alien abduction style lamps out there, I made an attempt to design and create a simplified mini version that was entirely 3d printed except for the LED lights. Not only does it light up, but it also glows in the dark after you turn off the lamp! It's designed in such a way, that the UFO on top can be swapped out with a different style if I come up with something I like better later on, or go with something more complex.


Step 1: Materials

-3D Printer or appropriate 3D printing service

-Filament for your 3D printer

-LED light that fits your base. I used an LED meant for use as a quadcopter headlight.

-Quadcopter 12 LED RGB Headlight

-Power supply. My LED was happy with 7-9v


- Auto body filler primer

- Metallic spraypaint

- Sandpaper

Step 2: Design

The process began in Tinkercad. It turns out that designing disc shapes is relatively easy, even for the beginner. Flattening a parabolic shape until it starts to look like a flying saucer doesn't take too long to figure out. For the light beam I created a cone, chopped off the top and added a cylinder to fit through the hole in the bottom of the UFO.

Step 3: Print

When printing the parts, it's best to use a high quality setting to minimize the amount of finishing you'll need to do. The light beam was the most challenging part because the 3D file is a solid part, while the printed part needs to be a hollow shell in order to act as a diffuser for the light. This is done entirely in the setting of the 3d printing software by telling the printer to print at 0% infill, using an outer shell 2 layers thick, and not printing any top or bottom layers. There was a lot of trial and error here.

Step 4: Add Metal

In order to get a nice looking finish on these parts, I sprayed them with auto body filler primer. 4 or 5 coats works well. Then the primer gets sanded with progressively smoother sandpaper. I found 150 and 400 grit did the job nicely. After you have a surface with no visual evidence that the object was 3D printed, you're ready for your metallic spraypaint. I would have loved a chrome-like finish but the photo here is about as good as it gets. It does look metallic, but you won't be seeing your reflection.

Step 5: Assemble

The LED light fits nicely in the base, but there's still a little room for improvement in the design. The wires have a hole they can pass through so the light beam is able to sit flat on the base. The bottom half of the ufo sits on the light beam. The dome press fits into the top and the two halves can be glued together.

Step 6: Light It!

When you turn on the LED, the 3D printed light beam acts as a diffuser. The color can be changed by pressing a button on the LED, and there is a mode that cycles through colors. The filament used to print the beam and the dome on top is glow in the dark, so the lamp continues to glow for a while after its turned off.

I'd love to hear any suggestions/comments about the design or any suggestions for improvement.

Improvements: I would like to add an external switch to turn off the lamp. As of right now I just disconnect the power. Ideally I would like to redesign the beam of light so it can be twisted to lock it into the base. I'd also like to add more LEDs to the interior. The dome is supposed to light up, and it does, but not nearly as much as I had hoped.

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    24 Discussions

    I have an idea for this project to add to it (not that it needs it though) so if it's safe (i don't know how hot the beam gets) you take like a overhead projector transparency or something like it and draw a cow and human or whatever else on it then wrap around beam and secure it temporarily but securely (so you can change it out) and then the cow or whatever is being abducted !

    3 replies

    The beam does not get hot at all. Maybe I could just draw with a sharpie on the inside of it if I printed one large enough.

    Or if it's this size can just draw the things smaller so we know how big a cow is and if we see one however small on lamp we get a sense of scale and are like WHOAH that is a "big" ufo and then it's a detail that people see and are like WHOAH so neat or they miss it and it's a surprise for when they do see it obviously don't want it to look like a smudge or something though

    Oh man, I was SO researching that. I had a few ideas about doing it. One was to actually put a small cow inside so you could see the shadow. The other was to 3d print the tube just like a lithophane. The only problem with that was that I couldn't find any 3d software that would allow me to create a lithophane on a cone shaped tube. I did find one that would do it around a tube shape, but that wasn't quite good enough!

    This is SO AWESOME!!!!!!!! So so awesome. Love it. Like I made ufo earrings once so I completely admire this project

    Marvelous idea and great details on finishing it in your tut.

    Ideia bem legal. E a cor verde é perfeita para ele.

    Nice work! I'd love to have one in my bedroom as my nightlight, but where did you get that auto body filler primer paint? I can't find anyplace to buy.

    7 replies

    You can usually find it in auto retail stores (in US, places like autozone or o'reilly's), possibly in big box department stores auto or spray paint sections. It may just be labeled 'auto primer'.

    Turns out that the "filler primer" and regular auto primer in the spray can are slightly different. If you have a choice, opt for the filler instead of just the regular primer.

    oh good to know is it like bondo in a spray can? Or just thicker primer?

    Just thicker primer from what I can tell. I bought the wrong can one day and noticed the difference right away. Although I think if the shapes were basic enough, bondo might be an even better choice.

    I found it in the same place they sell spray paint. It comes in a spray can and looks just like spray paint, the only difference is that the layers end up being thicker, which is great for filling the lines on 3d prints.


    2 years ago

    wow aesthetic wise stunning to see! cool industrial design mindset!

    Do you have the tinkercad name? Or STL file to share?

    1 reply

    Yes I do! I had many variations and revisions as I fixed small errors and made improvements. I will share the stl files as soon as I get all the current and best ones sorted out. Feel free to send me a pm to remind me if it takes too long.