Acrylic Flowers of SMD LEDs

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Introduction: Acrylic Flowers of SMD LEDs

About: I am creating interactive installations and performances. Inviting the spectator to participate in various ways I use any media possible to bring "the idea" to life. Electronics, computers, wood, rope, wat...

We got a load of free SMD LEDs, and I wanted to test how it looked embedded in acrylic. 

Using the laser cutter, I made holes in the acrylic to fit the LEDs. 
The LEDs have the pads on the ends, and are slightly longer (3.5 mm) than the acrylic is thick (3.2 mm). 

Because the connector pads of the SMD LEDs stick out of the surface of the acrylic, it is possible to connect them all using one piece of pcb copper on each side. 

It turned out quite nice and beautiful.

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Step 1: Drawing and Cutting It Up

I got the measurements of the SMD LEDs from the datasheet and drew the shapes up on the computer. 

I made the holes the exact size of the LEDs, to make the just squeeze in nice and snug.

I cut up the acrylic shapes in the laser. 

And the pcb copper parts in the cnc router. 

Step 2: Mounting the LEDs

Mounting the LEDs in the acrylic - Using a pair of tweezers, because they are too small for my fingers.  

Make sure to mount the LEDs the same way up/down, as they have polarity. 

The LEDs have a little notch, showing the plus side. 


Step 3: Making the Sandwich

A piece of copper plate go in the top and bottom. 

I used some old double sided pcb copper sheets. 

A 3 mm screw hold it all together.

The sandwich is held together firmly by the screw, wich ensures, that the pcb flex and all the ends of the smd-LEDs are getting connected.  

Step 4: Electrical Connection

Double sided pcb copper sheets do not have connection between the front and back layer of copper, so I had to solder a little bit for that. 

I added a little extra solder just for the looks. 

Step 5: Mounting Cable

I soldered on some solid core cable for the electrical connection. 

The bottom copper layer is getting connected through the screw, that hold the sandwich together. 

Note the circular groove in the copper, that isolates the center (connected to the back) and the front. 

Step 6: The Base - a Leaf for the Flower

I used the same pcb copper sheet for the base. It is very easy to shape in the cnc router. 

I went for a leaf, because that went well with the flower theme. 

The groove "stem" of the leaf going all the way through the leaf suits to isolate the two halfs of the leaf from each other. 

I soldered on two small pieces of pcb to each side, with just the right distance to hold a coin cell battery. 

The coin cell delivers 3 V, wich a perfect to run the SMD LEDs on. 

To turn on the light in the flower, one simply places the coin cell battery in the little wedge between the two halves on the leaf. 

(Remember the polarity, though. If it does not work, flip the coin cell battery) 

Step 7: All Done

Very simple to make, and surprisingly beautiful. 

When it is so simple to mount SMD LEDs in acrylic, it really opens up for a lot of new ideas. 

There is a lot of projects in my mind already, that needs to be tried out. 

- Chandilers?

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    22 Discussions

    0
    ledartist
    ledartist

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Great Idea! Never thought of inserting LEDs into holes like that!

    0
    chrlilje
    chrlilje

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks - I hope to see others try and experiment with this technique.
    - I just checked out some of your work, btw - They are beautiful! :-)

    0
    laserlad
    laserlad

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Wow! I use my laser to cut up sheets of acrylic just about every day (ok, mostly just plain, basic shapes - but I also work with a variety of very talented artists who come up with some amazing things to be made) and I also tinker with electronic "toys" all the time - gotta EE degree stuck in a drawer around here somewhere. How could such a great concept, that actually requires far less work to manufacture than most of the less impressive projects I come up with, slip right by without notice or thought? (That was just a rhetorical interlude. I'm sure everyone's comments would be constrained to sincere attempts to help improve my thought processes, but that's ok - I'm just old).

    Your concept reminds me of watching the Olympics - somehow a huge communications error occurred and the assembled athletes were never told about the natural limits designed into the human body. Consequently they not only exceed those so-called "limits" with impunity, but they underscore their disdain for those sacred lines in the sand by flawlessly performing these defiant acts with scornful ease!

    And now, good sir, you have distinguished yourself by joining an elite group who have brought an equivalent spirit to the stage of Instructables. Although personal-use LED projects seem to be trending toward inclusion of more control components and/or programmability (with increasing use of various feedback components), your elegant use of relatively simple materials and assembly methods indicates that Occam's Razor is as useful today as it was when first documented. Excellent work! Excellent imagination!

    I fully intend to make a good number of these. As you point out, derivative ideas just fall over themselves volunteering, Good thinking with the chandelier. My first sketches for that involve some inlays and bending the petals for some of the flower imitations to add a bit of interest (hopefully), but I think my first variation will be far less ambitious - probably just swap out the CR2032 coin battery holder I used initially with a male USB connector so my daughter and friends can use them at their desks without having to keep batteries handy. THANK YOU for sharing!

    0
    chrlilje
    chrlilje

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the kind words. :-)
    Do share your derivative production - I am looking forward to see what others can come up with using this technique.

    I try to not let my mind and work be limited by rules and proper way to use the tools and materials I encounter. Constantly exploring new ways - And if I am so fortunate to stumble upon a way, that others can use, I am more than happy to share it.

    0
    agis68
    agis68

    6 years ago on Introduction

    so lovely! pity i don't own any laser cut cnc machine! Here in Greece these machines are pretty expensive even to rent and nobody rents u for just few pieces.......

    0
    junkrigsailor
    junkrigsailor

    6 years ago on Step 7

    Way cool! What's an "SMD" as in smd led?

    0
    chrlilje
    chrlilje

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    SMD means 'surface-mount device'. It is a LED that is mounted on the surface of a pcb (print board). Traditional components with long legs are "through hole" components, that are mounted through holes in the pcb.
    SMD components are the most common components today, and through hole components are getting rare and in many cases phased out and unavailable.

    0
    askjerry
    askjerry

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Brilliant!

    This has many uses... LED signs for example. My only concern is heating... but I presume the copper plates also work well for heat dissipation. (I built some things that looked great... for about a month... then the LEDs started to die because of overheating.)

    I'm thinking that you want a fairly thick copper plating because of this.

    0
    chrlilje
    chrlilje

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks :-)
    The diodes I use are rated for 3.3 V, but the coin cell only delivers 3 V, so I don't get the maximum light output. But, I guess this will protects the LEDs from overheating.
    There could be an electrical issue with putting diodes in parallel without a resistor in series of each diode. But so far, it has not been a problem.

    0
    Patrik
    Patrik

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Nice job! I guess if one of the LEDs burns out, you could just unscrew things and pop in another LED, since nothing is soldered in place anyway.

    0
    sagrawal
    sagrawal

    6 years ago on Step 7

    Awesome!! Good thinking!! :)

    I am surely gonna try this, how did you manage the grove in the leaf? and the pcb?

    0
    chrlilje
    chrlilje

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I failed to document the cutting of the pcb. :-)
    I used a normal wood cnc router with a 1.3 mm bit. The groove was done with carefull adjustment of the z-axis, to only go through the top layer.

    0
    ynze
    ynze

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Pretty! Makes me think of a real life Plants vs Zombie garden :-)

    0
    fknack
    fknack

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice work. You are right about this opening up a lot of possibilities.