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.
UPDATE: 1/17/18 STL FILES HAVE BEEN UPLOADED! ENJOY!
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.
-Power supply. My LED was happy with 7-9v
- Auto body filler primer
- Metallic spraypaint
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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Runner Up in the
Make It Glow! Contest