Light for Life: 3D





Introduction: Light for Life: 3D

In 2009 i created and published a jacket called Light for Life. It consisted of an Arduino, a set of LEDs integrated into the buttons,and two pushbuttons to activate them. I really wanted to make more of the buttons, but they were hard to make; requiring a drill, glue, and filing down each LED lens.

Now that desktop 3D printers are around, its time to make some the DIY 2.0 way!

NEW: I made a video of the jacket here. Check it out!

Step 1: Preparing for Print

The main focus on this instructable is the button itself. You will find attached a .stl file, that allows you to print out the buttons that i made.

I have an Ultimaker 3D printer, using Cura for slicing the files. If you already feel lost, that means you probably don't have a 3D printer. Don't worry. Maybe you will be inspired to get one. It's awesome!

So, the reason for using Cura for this product, it the possibility of pausing it midprint. Many 3D printers have this feature, the simple "pause" button, that stops and resumes the print. The advantage with using Cura is that you can actually pause it at a predefined moment, 4.5mm for my part, and actually have the extruder hotend (the part that melts the plastic filament) move away from your object! This way you are free to fiddle with the object, like putting LEDs into it.

For material i chose ABS, because it has better translucent abilities than PLA. Of course natural PLA would work, but I want it to be opaque, so the LEDs are invisible when turned of. Nylon would probably also do the trick.

My settings were:
speed: 25mm/s
fan: none
Material: ABS
layer height: 0.1mm
Pause at print: 4.5mm
(for increased bridging quality, turn fan on 50% after inserting the LED.)

Step 2: Prepare Your LEDs

For LEDs you need the 3mm ones. Bend the arms forewards, as shown on the picture, and cut them to exactly 13.50mm. (A caliper is useful at this moment, but I bet you already have one). I use white ones, since they will be on my jacket. If you choose red ones, people might think you are walking the other way. Not good.

Step 3: 3D Print It!

Its time to print out some buttons. On my setting it took approximately 30 minutes pr. button. You could of course print many at the same time, but this may reduce the quality of your objects, depending on what printer you have. (I have an Ultimaker, which has plastic filament being pushed through a tube and into the extruder. As each "island" is printed out, the hot-end will travel through open space, and ooze slightly.)

Step 4: 3D Print Some More!

For the battery / switch-casing, you can download and print out the attached stl file.

The batteries are CR2032 (3V). The switch is random. It measures 25x7.25x7mm.

I have attached Solidworks files as a zip so you can adapt it to your random switch or battery laying around. I would like to have a more standardized switch, but anyway.

Step 5: Sew It!

I strongly recommend using a very thin wire for transporting electricity from the battery and to all the individual LEDs that we are about to connect to. Take a look at the featured sketch. It shows how I have set up the electrical system on my soon-to-be-lighting-jacket.

I use a special tool to remove the protective sleeve on the wires, where I later want them to connect to the LEDs. It is quicker, less prone to failure (its easy to cut the wire with a scalpel, in which case you will have to either solder them together, or redo it).

Step 6: Sew Some More!

Its time to sew the buttons themselves!

For this part I would suggest some conductive thread. You can find it here. The reason for this is that you will now sew the buttons onto the jacket, or whatever piece of lighting clothing you are about to make.

WARNING: make sure to check each light before you sew it together. It would be a shame to sew the + connector of the LED to the - (ground) cable.

Each button has 4 holes. This enables you to sew it together with two separate threads. one for the ground (-), and one for the +. Make sure the threads don't touch each other. This will result in a short, and there will be no light. For increased connection, try to place the thread on each side of the small LED pins inside the buttons that you just printed out.

After about 4 rounds with each thread, your buttons should be fastened well. The end of the thread should now be sewn into the electric wires that you prepared in the previous step. I went once THROUGH the wire with the needle, and finished it off by going around it a couple of times, before tying a know with the beginning of the same thread.

This may seem a bit complicated, but I am sure you will get a hang over it, it did!

Step 7: Attach the Casing!

You just sewed together a bunch of buttons. Congratulations!

Now its time to make them shine. Before attaching the casing to the main wires, check with a 3V battery that all the LEDS are working. If they flicker, you should fix that first.

Find out where to place the battery/switch-casing. I placed it on the lower right side on the lining of my jacket. Cut the wires to the right length. Take a look at the attached image for a schematic overview of how to attach the cables. This step will require soldering two cables, a + and a -, to the switch. Before soldering, insert the cables through the casing, as the switch is then inserted into the casing.

For connecting to the batteries, I simply cut the end of the wire, and pressed the battery into the battery slot, with each cable pressed against the + and the - side.

When you are done, simply use some ordinary thread to sew the casing onto your piece of clothing, and you are done!

Step 8: You Are Done!

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    12 Discussions

    A little normal+a little wierd=I LIKE IT!

    This is a fantastic idea for latenight strolls without a flashlght.

    You have solidworks and a 3D printer :) you are one lucky man! ** one day** =D

    This does make me wonder if you could some how hook them up to a solar charger and a light sensor to turn on in low light.

    1 reply

    Yes you could, no problem, but you would have to wear the solar charger, light sensor and arduino (you need something to make sense of the light sensor signal). All this instead of a simple 2$ battery and push switch. If i had to make it, i would consider the light sensor to turn it on/off, but leave the solar charger at home.

    I just made of video of the jacket. Have a look:

    I think Cops will find this Instructable of great use especially night working to be visible Think of Father Christmas suits or in USA Halloween and so on

    I like it, good work! You could make the led's flash in sequence to look like a landing strip, now that would be awesome!

    1 reply

    Or a KITT-style scanner (I forget exactly what the term for that is).

    Though if you're using an Arduino, no sense it limiting yourself - just make your switch cycle through the available lighting patterns!

    add some wiring and a little arduino, and you are good to go!