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About Candlestone Solid Surface Material

Candlestone Lithophane Material - Compare to Corian

The key to a good lithophane is start with the ideal material for the task. While lots of materials can work, we found that there are significant variations in machining and the resulting "picture" created. Corian is often used since it is fairly easy to obtain but we wanted to find the best material, specifically for cutting with a CNC router, to produce lithophanes. The result of our search was our material we call "Candlestone".

In our quest, we found the following properties to be the important for lithophanes:

  • the right amount of light transmission (opaqueness)
  • machinability
  • color

Opaqueness

corian-comparison.jpg

Corian (left) and Candlestone (right)

Creating a Lithophane is an art of controlling light through varying the thickness of your material to block more or less light. If your material is too opaque you will not have light shades and your overall result will be dark. If the material is too transparent your image will look washed out with no contrast.

Along with this balance of light transmission is the consideration of time to produce. Movement of the Z axis when creating a lithophane is the weak link. The bigger your model height, the more your Z axis has to move and the longer the time to produce. We have found that a model height of about .10 - .12 inches is ideal since it provides for many varations of grey (200+ levels with a .0005" Z axis resolution) and keeps the overall cut times reasonable.

The comparison to the right is the exact same file cut in Corian and Candlestone and then photographed together on one of our LED panels. Our candlestone material results in more contrast, producing an image that appears sharper and more detailed. This image was cut with a model height of .1 inch.

Machinability

Corian machines very well and we wanted to make sure our material was comparable. Some products we tested created nice lithophanes but when cut turned to dust. Others can easily melt making machining difficult. Our Candlestone material cuts just like Corian and can be heated and bent the same way.

Color

Some people like "glacier white" and others like tinted colors with their lithophanes. What we have found is that it is easier to start with a white material and then tint the back to obtain the hue you may want. An example of a sepia type tone can be seen in this image. We used a small 1 to 5 ratio of Zinger Amber Shellac to Clear and then diluted with alchohol. We then applied this to the back of the lithophane. A benefit of using shellac is that you can just as easily remove it if you want to try a different color or go back to white.

If you are using a standard bulb, like in our night light kit. we prefer to leave the Candlestone material natural since the bulb itself provide a warm, yellowish cast. This is also the case when your display a lithophane using natural light, such as in a window. However, LED lighting is often very "white" in the quest for brightness. Since this does not provide any warmth to the lithophone you can tint to add a "sepia" tone to your image with a thin coat of amber shellac.