I remember as a child, visiting my uncle’s house and greatly admiring the stained glass windows that filled his living room and kitchen. There was something about these colorful pieces of glass, put together in a way that formed beautiful landscapes, scenery, and more that kept me mesmerized for hours. Unfortunately stained glass is rarely found in homes any longer, at least in homes built within the past half-century.
Apparently I’m not the only one who still has an affinity for stained glass. A man named Gary Erickson does as well. In fact, Erickson has previously made his own stained glass, but found it too difficult to do so on a regular basis. Thanks to 3D printing though, he has been able to create the next best thing — 3D printed faux stained glass.
In order to do so, Erickson uses several types of free design software. He uses “Paint.net” in order to edit pictures that he downloads from the internet, after searching for “stained glass patterns.” He then uses BMP2IGES to create an STL file from the modified picture, and then Netfabb Studio Free to cut out the frame/glass from the background and also correct any errors included in the STL file. It is then off to Repetier to re-size the model to fit onto Erickson’s Solidoodle 3D printer’s print bed.
“The frame itself is fairly easy to create — just cut out and save,” Erickson explains to 3DPrint.com. “The glass pieces are a little more complicated as I have to invert the original image, then re-make the stl in reverse. This allows Netfabb Studio to cut out the pieces. I then mirror the glass pieces so that they print upside down. This is done so the glass can be flipped over after printing, and fit into the recesses left in the frame.”
The obvious question that arises is how the “glass” remains in the frame, without falling through. Erickson tells us that this is his “main secret” — a secret which Erickson may just take to the grave with him. His solution involves blurring the picture in Paint.net before he creates the final image for printing.
“I won’t reveal the blur used, because it took me some time to figure out how to do this procedure, but there are only a few, and if you look closely, you can figure it out,” Erickson tells us. “This blur leaves the base of the frame larger than the top, allowing the glass to fit inside without falling through. This also applies to the glass, which is also blurred at the same time as the frame. The glass is printed upside down to allow the blurred side to fit into the recess in the frame.”
Erickson first started out using a Solidoodle 3 to print his glass, but has since moved to a Solidoodle Press. As you can see in the photos provided, his faux stained glass really looks quite amazing. Whether or not it looks like the real thing is up to the person admiring it.
“I think it does a good job of imitating real stained glass, or light catchers,” he explains. “I am retired and clearly have too much time on my hands.”
Perhaps he should consider coming out of retirement and making a profession out of his newly found skill. I certainly wouldn’t mind having some of his works sitting in the windows of my home. Erickson has made several of his stained glass creations available for free download on Thingiverse.
What do you think about Erickson’s 3D printed creations? Discuss in the 3D printed faux stained glass forum thread on 3DPB.com.