Make a Faceted LED Gem





Introduction: Make a Faceted LED Gem

Lots of projects use LEDs. Here we'll be modifying the LED itself to resemble a gem. Doing this also changes the light output pattern of the LED, throwing more light to the sides and less forward.

Step 1: The Inside of the LED / the Plan

The common LED has a die (the light emitting element) in a cup on one lead, and a fine wire from the other lead to the die, all enclosed in plastic. This plastic enclosure protects the sensitive electronic elements and focuses the light produced. So long as we don't get too close to the delicate parts inside we can safely reshape the lens.

Step 2: Materials and Tools

The LED. I'm using a superbright white in a clear package. Other low power LEDs should work fine. High power LEDs have a different construction and probably won't work here.

Pliers. Something to hold the LED.

File or sandpaper block. To shape the plastic lense.

Lapping Block. A solid block covered in cloth to polish up the facets on the reshaped LED. I've also had success with smooth ceramic tiles.

Step 3: Shaping, Part 1

Taking the LED in the plier by the leads, work two sides of the LED against the file or sandpaper block to grind down the lens to a wedge.

Step 4: Shaping, Part 2

Grind down the other 2 sides of the LED to make a pyramid.

Step 5: Polishing

Rub the facets against the lapping block to work out the scratches left by the shaping process. A little oil or polishing rouge may help here. If you shaped with a good file or fine sandpaper this should go fairly fast. if you shaped with course sandpaper it may take longer. If your experiments find a better method for this, please drop a comment.

Step 6: Use Your LED Gem

Build something with your new LED Gem. A really magic Harry Potter wand for Lumos and Reveal Your Secrets charms or L.E.D. Earrings come to mind. Or just hook it up to look pretty.



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    I file down the ends of my LED's depending on how diffused or focused I want the beams. I bought a load of clear LEDs and I wanted to illuminate a picture from behind so I filed it down to make it as diffused and spread out.

    good instructable :)

    A very easy way to polish plastic is to quickly brush over it with a butane/propane torch. You will have a glossy smooth surface in an instant as long as you don't have any deep scratches.

    I am wondering if anyone has experimented to find the refractive index of the plastic. In actual gems their refractive index is used to determine the best angle for the facets (flat surfaces.)

    I had been wondering if this could be done. Now I know. Brilliant (pun intended)! How thick is the plastic surrounding the cup? Is the cup encased in solid plastic, or is the plastic really a hollow dome covering the cup?

    1 reply

    In the common low power LED, such as used here, it's solid plastic all the way down to the active components. You don't want to shave it too close, but I found several mm of margin to work with. High power LEDs commonly use a thin dome over a filler, and can't be modified the same way.

    great idea! i was thinking of something similar just yesterday involving backlighting fake gems, but just grinding the led makes so much more sense! another backligting idea i had was crinkling up transparent clored plastic for a splotchy "tie dye" sort of pattern. the cool thing about your tech though is you can create random. non geometric patterns. thanks for the great idea!

    Nice... I had plans to make a ring for Christmas using a blue 10mm LED as a diamond but I didn't know what the best way to shape it would be, so I never made the dang thing (but still got the large LED :P ) Good job :)

    good one. if possible compare ur moded LED with normal that we will know the difference better.

    At first I didn't get this, but then I looked over it again, and this is cool! It looks all sharp and stuff, exactly like a gem. I might try this, stuff will look awesome like this, nice job!