How To Make A Hologram

3 min read

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Ever visited an attraction with a hologram and been super impressed? They look like a futuristic piece of technology that requires expensive equipment to create, but that’s not the case. In fact, you can make a simple hologram with cheap materials at home. Let’s dive in!

What is a hologram?

Before we begin, what exactly is a hologram? In simple terms, a hologram is a 3D image that’s created when light bounces and scatters off an object. It is the result of a photography technique that’s aptly called holography.

Holograms are everywhere. Museums, exhibitions, concerts and even everyday items such as money contain holograms. For further reading on the technology, we have an article here.

Below, you’ll find a step-by-step guide on how to make your very own hologram with basic materials.

What materials are needed to make a hologram?

First, you’ll need to gather these for your DIY project: 

  • Film plates
  • Laser 
  • Safety goggles
  • Book
  • Clothes peg
  • Cardboard
  • Batteries
  • A small object of your choice that you want to make a hologram of (e.g. a trinket, preferably something made of plastic, translucent)

You’ll also need a hologram kit. The kit should have some chemicals to process the hologram, and clear instructions. Photography or department stores may have kits, or you can buy online.

Make sure to be in a dimly-lit room, too. Once you have the above, you can begin.

How to make a hologram: A step-by-step tutorial

Step 1: Setting Up the Work Area

To start, build a base for your laser beam to sit on. Use the cardboard to erect a flat surface, and place your laser device on the surface. You could use the clothes peg to hold the laser still. This will be the source of light for your hologram.

Once that’s done, place your small object in front of the base. Not too close, though —  approximately fifty centimetres should suffice. 

Step 2: Preparing the Equipment

Shut out all natural light sources from windows or creaks. Lean a piece of film plate against the object. It’d be more ideal if the film plate was able to stand on its own. Wait for about 10 seconds for the plate to settle before proceeding.

Step 3: Aligning the Laser

Now, turn on the laser beam. Be extra careful: never stare into the laser source! The laser will hurt your eyes. Wear safety goggles for eye protection.

Step 4: Placing the Object

Place the book between the laser beam and object to block the laser from reaching the object. This will act in a manner akin to a camera’s shutter

Step 5: Developing the Hologram

Here’s where things get interesting. Slowly lift the book — aka the shutter — to let the laser beam pass through for about 10 seconds. Place the shutter back down again to block the laser.

The film plate is now exposed to the laser beam. Remove the film plate from the object. Now, follow the steps on the hologram kit to develop it. You’ll have to wait for the plate to dry. Once that’s completed, proceed to the final step below.

Step 6: Viewing the Hologram

Ta-da! You should be able to look at your 3D DIY hologram in a dimly-lit room. Congratulations! You’re now a tech whiz.

Tips for common issues

Faint hologram

One common issue many people encounter is getting a faint result. If this occurs, move to a room that’s more dimly lit.

Blurry images or double images

If the end result is blurry, this might be due to the plate being too close to, or too far from the object. It could also be that “stray light” — light from an unknown outside source — is present in the room, according to users on a hologram forum. Try getting rid of the stray light or distance the plates for a better result.

How to create the perfect hologram

If you want a perfect hologram, make sure to avoid the above mistakes. 

Optimal conditions

Make sure you’re in a dark room with minimal distractions. This includes no natural light sources, as they will affect the hologram’s quality. 

Try and be in a quiet room with minimal noise distraction.

Image: Andriy Onufriyenko via Getty Images