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Working with miniature 3d Printed Parts - tips, tools and ideas - Part 3: Adding an LED for a lighting effect

In this part of the tutorial I added an LED light to one of the miniatures (The cauldron). It gives the dungeon a nice special effect.


Here is the 3d Printed Cauldron as it was printed.

The 3d printed cauldron

And here is the completed cauldron after the LED has been added and it has been painted.

The completed Cauldron with LED

I started by drilling a hole in the botttom of the cauldron.

Drill a hole in the bottom


Then I inserted an LED.

Insert an LED


And notice that I have a resistor in series with the LED. This is important. It limits the flow of current and prevents the LED from burning out. You have a lot of leeway with this. A 100 ohm resistor or thereabout is quite ok.

Current limiting resistor


Then I lit it up to test it. And I could see it wasn't very bright. My hunch here is that the plastic is a little too thick on the top of the cauldron. So I figured I could probably thin that out a bit.

Testing the light

So I cut open the cauldron, along a seam near the top. And we can see two reasons why the light was so limited. First off the top is very thick. And secondly there is a support structure inside the cauldron that constricts the light flow. It only illuminates within that square in the center.

That square structure in the center of the cauldron is created during the 3d printing process as a support for the miniature as it is being printed. This is a normal thing but it is something to consider if you want to light up the inside of a miniature.

But, that structure is often only needed during the print process while the plastic is still soft and curing. Now, we can remove it and it will not have an effect on the piece.

This isn't always the case. Sometimes the internal structure, or parts of it are necessary for the overall strength of the miniature.

Cut the cauldron open


I removed most of that inner grid.

Cleaning the inside of the cauldron


And I used a dremel tool to carefully thin the top of the cauldron. This would give us more complete illumination of the top. Be careful if you do this. Get it too thin and it is easy to break right through, causing a hole.

Thinning the plastic


And I added aluminum foil into the bowl of the cauldron. This would concentrate and amplify the light toward the top. Then I glued in the LED.

Adding aluminum foil


I glued the top back with super glue and there you go! We have a lot more light in the cauldron.

The light is much brighter


Now I finished it off by painting it. And that's it! It looks good although it still has a bit of a green tint to it because of the color of the plastic.

The completed cauldron


This cauldron is part of my Make a Dungeon Diorama using foam and 3d Printed Miniatures:

Dungeon dioramaNew: Make a Dungeon Diorama with 3d Printed Miniatures

I show you some great techniques for making a dungeon diorama which is also good for table top gaming. I also have some 3d printed minatures in this diorama. Make a Dungeon Diorama