The origins of the moon lamp: From lithophane to 3D Printing

Every new thing has a rocky or glorious origin story behind it, and the same goes for the 3D printed moon lamp.

The moon lamp is made using the current popular 3D printing technology.

It’s so realistic it feels like the moon is in your hands.

It’s a whole new experience, very cool and you won’t forget it!

However, do you know the name of this technology, and what era did it originate in?


The design idea for the moon lamp can be traced back to the later part of the 1820s.  ( 200+ years ago).

In the 1820s, a technique called Lithophane appeared in France, Germany, Prussia, and England.

Many historians believe it was Baron Paul de Bourgoing (1791-1864 ) who invented it.

The lithophane is a pattern engraved on a very thin, translucent ceramic plate. It can be seen with a light source on the back.

Perhaps this was one of the most unusual and exciting art forms to emerge in the early 19th century.

(Source from Wikipedia)

But these weren’t the first lithophane in history.

Earlier Lithophane

Many historians argue that the inspiration for the idea came originally from China in the Tang Dynasty. (nearly a 1000 years before)

Earlier Lithophane as thin as paper

According to the scholar R. L. Hobson during the Ming Dynasty, the Chinese produced bowls “as thin as paper”.

The porcelain tires are eggshell thin, translucent, and made of pure glaze.

Take this concept to the next level

The Europeans have not only used this technology, but they have taken the concept to a whole new level.

A variety of images appeared on Lithophane

Hidden porcelain is made in a variety of formats, from window panelling to candle shields.

Popular themes are religious themes, portraits, style scenes, literary ideas. Such as Bible stories and masterpieces.

Some lithophanes even commemorated events. such as the opening of the Eiffel Tower in 1889

They were also placed in mantel screens, nightlights, teapots, and matchboxes.

Many are the bottoms of beer mugs, mugs, and glasses.


Before the popularity of moon lamps.

Many creators used 3D printing embossing to create fascinating products.

Luna the moon has upgraded from handmade (before 2015) to 3d printing (after 2015).