Lighting a 3D printed sculpture test - Kevin CaronWhenever I show my 3D-printed sculpture, the question I hear the most is, “Can you put a light in it?”

I have put lights in a couple of my 3D-printed sculptures, including Adzuki (click on the name to see a version of it lit and unlit) and Gumdrop.

Those 2 sculptures, though, are of my “old” style of 3D printing, in which I created hollow sculptures with lights inside. The lights look good at night or a dark room, but rather than providing enough light to be able to, say, see by, they are merely an accent.

When I began also 3D printing my new, deconstructed style of 3D-printed sculptures, because of the density of these sculptures, I knew I had to up my game when it comes to lighting.

An art consultant I’m working with referred to me a lighting expert at Creative Designs in Lighting. I gave him one of my 3D-printed sculpture fails in the new style and let him play ….

His tests revealed that a bigger diameter bulb really made a difference. It was important, too, that the bulb doesn’t get too hot, especially with PLA filament. I left the CDL offices with some bulbs, wiring, etc. that really got me thinking.

Lemon Wisp, a 3D printed fine art sculpture - Kevin CaronFirst I just played with the main bulb he gave me, a 12 volt LED light. LED bulbs are particularly cool – more on that in a moment. I printed a base that would accommodate the bulb, which is about 2″ tall, and a converter that takes the 110 from the wall socket and converts it to 12 volt. I also printed a sleeve to hold the bulb. The bulb and converter fit inside, but barely. Still, it fit well enough that I could test it.

This bulb really lit up Lemon Wisp,  one of my earlier type sculptures. It also heated it up a little more than I wanted – after an hour or so, the bottom of the sculpture started to melt. I used my hot knife to cut out the base of the sculpture so the light would shine up into it.

And boy, did it!

This really jump-started my search. I’ve added a wall plug that lets me turn the light on and off using an app on my phone, and I’ve now found some really cool small LED lights that are basically the size of a thin mint but are very bright. I ordered a receptacle for this type of light and will start playing with getting it wired.

I also need to print one of my new style sculptures with an opening in the bottom to allow more light to flow upward.

I’m really excited about following this rabbit down its hole – I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about how I light these sculptures!