Introduction: LED Nametag

Picture of LED Nametag

As a part of the Helle Koepfe-workshop for kids we designed some nametags, such that each kid could make their own led nametag at their short visit of the FabLab Aachen. Therefore ist shouldn't be too complicated, fast to build, not too expensive, and has to be awesome... at least that were the requirements.

Only a 2032 coin cells, two bright 3mm leds and a piece of 2mm acrylic and two short pieces of wire are necessery. The clip-on could be of cource be replaced by a piece of wire, but we had a bunch of them from another project.

The one and only tool which is used is the epilog zing laser cutter of the fablab.

Step 1: Power Up the Laser Cutter

Picture of Power Up the Laser Cutter

The first step for each kid was typing their name and choosing a vector graphic as a sort of logo. The laser cutter will then (dependent of the fill color of the different parts of the svg):

  • mark the black parts (Name and personal icon): cut with lesser power, such that the acrylic is only nearly cut through, but a thin layer of acrylic remains on the bottom side
  • cut the green parts
  • engrave the red parts (text and fablab logo at the bottom): less power than mark, and instead of using the outline the whole inside is engraved

Step 2: Insert Leds

Picture of Insert Leds

The legs of the leds are bend by 90° in opposite directions (mark e.g. the longer leg with an edding) and inserted in the two led-shaped holes, such that the led points towards name and icon.

Step 3: Wire

Picture of Wire

The legs are then bend towards the pairs of small holes near the cut-out for the coin cell: The long legs of each led has to be between the lower left pair and the upper right pair or between the lower right and the upper left pair. The shorter ones are then bend to the other pairs.

Didn't matter which of this two variants, it just determined how the coin cell has to be inserted.

Two small pieces of wire are then threaded through the holes to connect the corresponding legs with the battery and fixates the legs (the part were the wire bridges the small gap between the two holes near a leg should be directly above the leg and press it against the acrylic). The ends of the wire are twisted with each other, tightening it.

Finallly the ends of the legs which stand above the wire are bend back towards the led.

Step 4: Finish

Picture of Finish

Mount the clip-on, and insert the coin cell between both wires. A small piece of transparent adhesive tape will further improve the connection, otherwise it will light up by pressure depending of the thightness of the wires.



rmatkar made it! (author)2017-07-17

The badges look so much cooler in pictures. The Leds im using are not bright enought to backlight it completely!

Any suggestions on what can be done to improve that?

janth (author)rmatkar2017-07-17

did you use normal or (ultra)bright LEDs - there are different types out there, the normal ones are indeed not bright enough

PaulineB29 (author)2016-08-10

Hello, I work in Afterschool Care. This week we are making LED light name tags with foam paper. I like this idea better. Is it possible to use my cricut machine to cut the acrylic instead of a laser cutter? How long does it take to make one? Does anyone have a video tutorial?

janth (author)PaulineB292016-08-23

I don't think the cricut machine can handle a 2mm acrylic sheet, a milling machine will work (or, when i first read CuFan reply: A 3D printed version out of halfway transparent material might work, but will not look that great). With a laser cutter cutting and engraving is in minute range, making an individual design took far more time per participant.

CuFan (author)PaulineB292016-08-20

PaulineB29, just curious how you make LED name tags with foam paper. In this post, they used foamboard instead but I think it is close enough to your original idea.

sandyrol (author)2016-05-19

Very Impressive dude.....

Dharmil Desai09 (author)2016-01-23

like this very much

4kyaw 4kyaw (author)2016-01-16

I like

Just4Fun Media (author)2016-01-12

I love the creative wiring for the battery holder!

Have a great day! :-)

PatrickFerrell made it! (author)2015-03-25

Thanks for posting your badge template. I've made a couple of these now and folks seem to like them. Cost-wise, they're cheap enough that we can consider them for group projects in our library's makerspace.

So far a single battery seems to last about a week's worth of daytime use - if the battery is removed at night.

janth (author)PatrickFerrell2015-03-26


And that would be exact the purpose for what they are made :-)

I think we used some really crazy low-current but bright leds (sadly we didn't know the specification or the supplier anymore) or i got a very good coincell - at the end after nearly one month the leds where not that bright anymore but still running...

QazW2 (author)janth2015-12-24

I believe some LEDs have built in resistors which would extend their life, adding resistors can help at the the cost of brightness. but since you are just using a coin battery the LED's are going to need to be low voltage which unfortunatly i haven't worked with yet so there are likely mechanichs at work that i haven't dealt with in 5 volt LEDs

thundrepance (author)2015-12-23

how COOL! ☻ love these!

Arduino4Me (author)2015-12-22

Awesome, thank you for sharing this! :)

RigoC (author)2015-12-22

I tried chemicals, but the ones that work the best are banned or not carried here in the US. The others give the acrylic a cloudy etching that cuts the brightness. My solution was a dremel and some rubbing alcohol to clean it up a bit.

mreza_asadii (author)2015-12-22

very nice idea.simple and Ingeniously.thank you.

JohnJ107 (author)2015-12-04


bbuldoc (author)2015-07-08

Very good idea. Love it. Thank you.

kcbaltz (author)2014-07-31

I'm guessing you could make this work with etching as well. I'm pretty sure there are chemical ways of etching, so you could use a printer to print your design, cut it out, and then etch the acrylic using a cream or possibly sandpaper.

janth (author)kcbaltz2014-08-01

Interesting idea. There might be the problem of etch direction: The fine lines which should light up have nearly no width and go deep in the material - but etching will normally work in all direction, enlarging the width corresponding. But maybe that's not that important.

helifino (author)janth2015-06-24

Not really. All that matters that the surface not be smooth - a tiny scratch will light up nearly as well as a deep one.

fredjames1 (author)2015-03-19

Wooowwwww....Tremendous display

janth (author)fredjames12015-03-26


WalidM (author)2015-03-21

what a nice project !!! but where I get that glass ???

janth (author)WalidM2015-03-26

That's just standard acrylic, nothing special. The problem would be more the engraving (a.k.a. where is the next laser cutter for public access)

POTABlog (author)2014-12-23

How long do the LED's actually light? I mean per Coin Cell?

janth (author)POTABlog2014-12-23

We didn't need to change them while wearing, so at least some hours. Interesting question, i've started a testrun now, but it will take a while until results are in :-)

Theorie: 240mA until voltage drops to 2V (still enough for the leds), 40mA for the two leds (might even be less thanks to the internal resistance)-> 6h, should be far more because of slowly increasing resistance and dropping voltage.

POTABlog (author)janth2014-12-23

Alright Thank you :)
Nice Tutorial btw, I think im gonna try it myself :P
Thank you again :)

janth (author)POTABlog2014-12-24

24h later: 6 hours was a bit pessimistic, it's still on the same brightness...

janth (author)janth2014-12-27

...almost 90h after start: Still running :-)

POTABlog (author)janth2014-12-27

wow..i can't wait for my parts to be delivered now :D seems like you built a really efficent thing here :)

ronakbafna (author)2014-10-03

How do you print/write the names on acrylic?

janth (author)ronakbafna2014-10-03

Used a public laser cutter to engrave them. Other more practical options - see the comments below - would be using a dremel/mill to engrave it or a heated up cutter/needle to melt the outlines in the acrylic.

A_Teacher made it! (author)2014-09-10

A friend has a birthday this week. I made a quick version of the nametag for her to wear at her party.

janth (author)A_Teacher2014-09-15

Awesome - especially the two different text styles look great.

I hope she liked it and that she had a nice birthday party.

BrownDogGadgets (author)2014-08-14

I used paperclips to help keep the batteries in place. Made for a very simple, kid friendly, solution.

janth (author)BrownDogGadgets2014-09-15

Fun fact: The use of paperclips as battery holder on a pcb was the starting point which leads to these nametags :-)

francescapereira (author)2014-08-19

Awesome project. Check this one out on LED's

devil yuvi (author)2014-08-07

This is great....thanks my sister would like it

UncleEd (author)2014-08-01

A stencil and a sand blaster might be another alternative to the laser cutter.

Nice idea, and I bet the younger people loved them. Anything that lights up. Wait--I like them, too, and I'm not uh, younger.

janth (author)UncleEd2014-08-04

...and it isn't even blinking :-)

I want to see a video of making a nametag with a sand blaster - sound like a god-awful mess and a (corresponding) lot a fun (ok - more fun would be making it myself, but i've no sand blaster ^^)

rose maria (author)2014-07-30

I am Sam her brother I like science this is pretty cool

janth (author)rose maria2014-08-01


rose maria (author)2014-07-30

You can heat a thomocol cutter also

janth (author)rose maria2014-08-01

Great idea, i should test that. I allways had the problem to be to impatient by working with a dremel on acrylis - which results in melting it anyway. Using a heated up cutter (or even better a fine scalpell or something like that) would be far more precise.

iamchrismoran (author)2014-07-31

I so love this idea and might try it out with my 5yo son... um, sans laser cutter.

janth (author)iamchrismoran2014-08-01

You are not the only one who have this kind of problem. I'm really lucky to have access to one :-)

The dremel version as suggested by vskogen should work. I did somethink like this for another thing before. Just printed the design on paper, glued it on the acrylic and than followed the lines with a milling tool.

Haven't used two versions (etching or using a heated up cutter) yet, but i think both (especially the last one) should also work.

Joefer (author)2014-07-31

I plan to make a LAMINATED version. Will lamination damage the battery?

janth (author)Joefer2014-08-01

Don't know, buti think batteries don't like it, if they become too hot. So i wouldn't dare to test it. (And it will make it harder to change/turn off the battery)

crispernakisan (author)2014-07-30

"It has to be awesome" is the Best. Requirement. Ever.

About This Instructable




Bio: ... found out that the FabLab Aachen has a Laser cutter and a PCB mill (and other fun stuff of course), decided to stay there for ... More »
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