Introduction: Glowing 3-D Letters for Your Computer Case
In this instructable I'm going to show you how to add some glowing letters to you computer case or any thin box like an X-Box or receiver. I originally wanted a logo for my case side but was not sure how I was going to put it there, air-brush, vinyl sticker, custom made decal, I had a lot of choices but not really what I wanted so I came up with this.
Tools we will need:
Dremel scroll saw
Carbide cutter for roto-tool
Grinder for roto-tool
Small drill bit
Awl or very sharp nail
For the letters:
Sticky paper for the pattern
A UV light source like a CCFL
UV reactive acrylic
Now decide what you want to say and the kind of font you want to say it in.
We will start with a pattern...
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Step 1: Make a Pattern
First you'll need a pattern for your letters. You can make this in a graphics program or draw them by hand depending on your talent.
Your pattern needs to be on something sticky so it will not move as you are cutting out the letters. I used a paper called Velum which can be found at your local office store. The advantage to this is the sticky stuff does not leave a residue.
Step 2: Cutting the Case
Of course the easy way to cut these would be with a laser cutter, but that is just not something everybody has access to, so we will use our trusty Dremel roto-tool.
Start by drilling a small hole in the center of each letter just big enough to start your cutter in. SLOWLY cut away the inside of the letters. Be careful and the cutter can get away from you very easily so brace your hand and take your time. Once you have them cut out, the edges will be rough from the cutting. Change over to your grinding bit and again slowly grind the edges smooth. We will now use this as a guide to lay out our letters on the acrylic.
Step 3: Cutting the Letters
This is a technique I learned woodworking. We would draw a picture on a board, tilt our table, and cut 3-D pictures. We are going to use this same technique to cut our letters.
The first thing to do is to transfer the outline to the acrylic. I did this by putting the acrylic behind the cutouts and traced around them with an awl. Next set your scroll saw table to a 5 to 7 degree tilt. The idea is to make the back side of the letter bigger than the front side so be sure to keep the letter on the high side of the table. This will allow the letter to protrude slightly out the front but since the back is wider it will not go all the way through. Once your letters are finished and in place you can secure them with a very small drop of epoxy. Try to put the epoxy away from your light source to avoid any dark spots in your letters.
Step 4: The Lighting
All that is needed now is a light source. This could be a black light in your room, a UV-LED, or what I consider to be the best, a UV-CCFL inside your case. The choice is yours but I believe the CCFL's are the brightest of the three.
Step 5: Finishing Up
The last thing I did before gluing the letters in was paint the centers. This gave the letters a little more depth. Over all I was very happy with the out come. This is something anybody can do and could be applied to more than just letters. Use your imagination and customize your case.
Thanks for reading and I hope I have inspired you in some small way.