3D Printed Film Scanning Masks

Moving away from a flatbed scanner, to a stills camera / copy stand setup, for digitizing film, has been a much more of a winding road than I thougt it would be. There are plenty of solutions out there, from pricey boutique modular kits, to people who solved their own specific problems, and started selling them. While it's easy to spend the cash (if you have it) and get a ready made system that's going to mostly work for you, it's not very much fun :) I'd been wanting to learn 3D printing for a while, and printing scanning masks seemed to be a pretty good entry point. 

I chose Tinkercad to start designing since it allowed me to get my feet wet with basic 3D design without the steep learning curve of something like Blender

After a bit of back and forth in the design process, I realized that the best solution for me was something that leveraged the concept of a gate, and pressure plate combination found in motion film projectors, and some cameras. The film sits in a track, and a plate fits inside the track. In this case they are held together with magnets. These two peices, once together, sit in a frame with built in diffusion, and it sits on the light source of your choice.

The film is in direct contact with both sides, so to advance, either lift the plate, or if you're not too precious about the film (I'm not) just pull the film to the next frame. Optionally, you can add felt on the gate track, and plate.

All that is left to sort out are feet (or rails), so the diffusion plexi isn't in contact with the light source, and adding a bit of weight so it's less likely to move while in use. 


To Print:

  • A gate, and plate per film gauge
  • Frame
  • Buttons to glue on top of plate magnets

To Purchase:

  • 10mm circular magnets
  • Opaque, white, plexi sheet (Cut to size, and glue on bottom of frame)


  • Felt to sandwich the film between the gate track, and plate

All my files are freely available under a CC license, at Thingiverse, I hope others can use them, and maybe even improve on the design.