Instructables
Picture of Edge Lit Acrylic Sign
Edge-lit LED signs are an attractive and innovative way of advertising your businesses and products. They are energy efficient and are easy to assemble from acrylic panels and LED tape or strips. The key to a good sign is how you laser the image or lettering on the acrylic sheet and how you mount the acrylic panel so that the edges are brightly lit with the LED's . Colored LED's or multicolored LED strips and tapes enable you to choose the color of the light in the sign. The engraved parts will light up while the rest of the sign stays dark, producing the illusion of floating letters or images.

 
 
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Step 1: Things you will need:

1.) Acrylic sheet: size to your preference- www.tapplastics.com  example of cost: a piece of Acrylic  12 inches x12 inches x 1/2 inches cost $20.50.

2.) Edge lit profile,end caps,and spring loaded pins and screws all sized to your piece of Acrylic- www.harborsales.net
Example of cost 12 inch profile 2 end caps and 2 pins cost $19.78

3.) Access to Co2 laser cutter- if you cant access one at a local area shop you can visit www.ponoko.com
to purchase acrylic and upload design to have it lasered into the acrylic.

4.) LED strips or light tape- www.superbrightleds.com or visit you local auto parts store advance auto or even wal-mart. usually cost about $18.00 to $25.00.

5.) Design software- Any design software Corel draw, Adobe Illustrator etc.

Optional items

6.) Bernzomatic torch starter kit- www.bernzomatic.com used to polish edge of acrylic cost 39.99 to 50.00.

ChicagoWay made it!7 months ago

I used this ible to get a better understanding of rastering (etching) acrylic. Great ible and worked well. Reversing the image was key to getting the look I wanted. Thanks.

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savarin1 year ago
Now heres a thought and I havnt done this yet.
Check the stores for end of stock xmas led lights, they should be cheap.
Get a string that has coloured pattern changing.
Discard the wall wart for another project maybe, open up the little box with the circuit board and look for the diode.
Bypass the diode so you can use a set of batteries of the correct voltage to drive the circuit. For long life I will be using 6V lantern batteries in series.
You now have a colour changing sign.
It may be beneficial to place the led frame all round the perspex,
I wont know till I try it.
savarin2 years ago
do you think sand blasting would work to produce the image?
I USE SAND BLASTING AND IT WORK OK.
sross-1 savarin2 years ago
I second this, I have a vinyl cutter and sand blaster. I don't see why it wouldn't work but curious if anyone has any input?
I know you can get little sandblasting airbrushes, and you mask it off as usual with slightly sticky stencils, as you would for paint? that's a similar concept
Those little sand blasting airbrushes are ok in their way but removing any depth will be a bit of a chore.
I now use the gun that came with the cabinet but turn the pressure down for delicate work.
sandblasting, milling, any form of cutting will work perfectly fine. It will also work on glass, with sand blasting being the preferred method with glass.
MaddMann2 years ago
So. What DO you use to clean it?? You tell us what NOT to use, but what's recommended???!!!
tecnico01042 years ago
I've done little and simpler signs with a hand engraver, so I think for more complicate designs if a CO2 laser isn't available could be done with a CNC router.
forbesg2 years ago
I have made a few edge lit signs. This is a great Instrucable. I think the price of the acrylic is a bit high. Take a look at www.inventables.com. They may be lower price. Not sure about pricing on the LED strips. Seems there are a lot of suppliers out there. Buy American, if you can.
stendex forbesg2 years ago
Tap plastics is American, if you live on the west coast you can go into one of their stores and dig through their scrap bin for super cheap acrylic. You buy that by the pound so if you want to experiment with anything on the cheap thats the way to do it.
I've never done this, does the depth of the etch matter, or do you just need to break the surface? Also does the viewing angle of the LEDs matter?
pardy73 (author)  amandaghassaei2 years ago
The depth of the etch only enhances the edges of the design. simply put the deeper the better. the viewing angle of the LED's doesn't matter just make sure you do not get strips with LED's that are Side Emitting . Hope this helps and would like to see your sign when your done.
monsterlego2 years ago
Sweet job
pardy73 (author)  monsterlego2 years ago
Thanks Monsterlego