Here is a tutorial on how to create an ultra thin and very sleek light box, to display your art or favorite image. It's using some of the same techniques as I used in my constellation series here:
The concept behind this frame is the simplicity of it. There is no gluing required or building an actual box. The end result is a solid frame, made of stacked laser cut acrylic layers.
I'm including the Ai file, so you can modify it and make your own
You will need:
• Access to a laser cutter
• 2x 15” x 10” of ⅛ inch acrylic
• 2x 15” x 10” of ¼ inch acrylic
• 4x 18-8 Stainless Steel Flat Head Phillips Machine Screw, 0-80 Thread, 1" Length
• 4x 18-8 Stainless Steel Hex Nut 0-80 Thread Size, 5/32” Wide, 3/64” High
• 40” of white LED strip
• DC power connector
• 12 V AC DC power adapter
• Electrical cable
• Electrical tape/ shrink wrap
• Spray paint (black & multiple colors)
• Mounting hardware
Step 1: PROTOTYPING
We start off by measuring all the physical parts, like our DC power connector, with a caliper.
Then we made a cardboard prototype of our design to make sure everything was cut and aligned properly. We suggest this step so you don't end up wasting valuable materials.
Step 2: LASER CUTTING
I have attached the AI file, with all the layers that need to be cut and they are named inside of their layers folders.
It is important that we use two different thickness of acrylic for this box. This design is based on the fact that the two 1/4" sheets are sandwiched together, creating the perfect thickness for the LED strip that we are using to illuminate the inside of the frame.
The two 1/8" sheets are put on the outside of each piece, the top will be a frame for the artwork, while the bottom is used as the back of the frame.
Step 3: ASSEMBLING THE FRAME
When assembling the frame, each piece should go in a specific order. We start by putting the 1/8" piece of acrylic, with the hanging hook insert, on the bottom. Then stack the 1/4" piece of acrylic with the same insert as the 1/8" piece. Next, align the second piece of 1/4" acrylic on top. This order is necessary for the frame to be hooked and locked onto the wall. Then, we proceed to connect each side with the screws, to hold each layer together.
Step 4: LEDS SOLDERING
For the LEDs, we begin by going around the inner frame and lining up the strip to the correct length. After cutting the LED strip, we want to measure out the length of cable, that will go in the canal insert we have cut out in our 1/4" panels.
In this layout, our cable measures out to 2.5 inches. Next, we want to solder the LED strip and connect it to the DC power connector, with the cable. Remember to align the positive ( + ) and negative ( - ) on both the LED strip and DC power connector. Once you solder the LED strip to the cable, you can either use electrical tape or shrink wrap, to strengthen the solder connection.
Step 5: LED ASSEMBLING
The assembling is very straight forward.
We put the DC power connector and LED wire, inside the frame insert.
We line up the strip and peel off the adhesive back and connect the LEDs onto the edge of the inner frame, making sure it stays inside of bounds.
Step 6: SPRAY PAINTING FOR ETCHING
One of the last steps is to spray paint two of the acrylic pieces. First, we painted one of the inner 1/4" piece of acrylic with the grid pattern, which will be edge lit on the inside of the frame and will give the colors to out artwork. Choose your favorite colors and have fun with it!
While we wait for it to dry, we spray paint one side of the 1/8" of acrylic black, which we will use as the top of our frame. Make sure that it is a thick layer of paint so no light spots leak through.
Once everything is dry, we etch the 1/8" of black acrylic, with the desired image.
Step 7: FINAL ASSEMBLY AND HANGING
For the final assembly, we take out the screws we used to hold our 3 pieces of acrylic together and lay the etched piece of acrylic on top. Line everything up and then put the screws back in and secure them with the nuts.
Hanging is a charm! We created a template for the back of the frames so they can be easily positioned onto the wall. Level the frame to the wall, hook it onto the wall, and showcase your artwork !
Would love to see what you guys create with this technique!