How to Diffuse an LED

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Introduction: How to Diffuse an LED

If you just got a bunch of cool LED's and you want to diffuse them (for various reasons) this is the instructable for you! Lots of LED's only come in those "waterclear" lens, not diffused. Diffusing makes the LED appear dimmer, but gives a wider viewing angle of the light. I recently bought color changing LEDs that only came in a non-diffused lens, that's when I made this instructable.

Step 1: Supplies

The LED (duh)
fine sandpaper (I used 400 grit and ist worked great, but i haven't tested other sandpapers)
about 5 minutes of your life per LED

Step 2: Grasp the LED

grab the LED by the beginning of the terminals and base of the LED

Step 3: Rub It on the Sand Paper

pretty self explanatory, keep on sanding everything until everything looks opaque or covered in a white dust.

Step 4: Rinse It

rinse the LED under water for a couple of seconds and dry with a towel.

Step 5: You're Done!

see the difference!

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    59 Discussions

    THE BEST way is to spray the LEDs with a light coat of Matt/Flat ( not glossy) white spray paint.TIME EFFECTIVE. Sanding each and every led is a tough and time-consuming job. The Leads could also get damaged due to mishandling While sanding.BEST thing to do is to line up all the LEDs and cover up the leads with something and spray a light coat of White paint

    wow, so simple yet so effective! Thank you so much, exactly what I was looking for.

    Sand some RGBs :) The results are amazing.

    I do this to most of mine! My way is faster though, I just squeeze the leads together on each LED and make a big pile of them! Then I stick them in my power drill 1 at a time! I use a fine grit sanding sponge and if u get it really wet you don't even have to clean them off!

    How does this affect the lumen output?

    Awesome, yet as simple as it gets!! I've been racking my brain for the last 2 days and this was in front of me all the time!!

    I would suggest that if you have a large LED display, instead of sanding each LED why not put a couple of pieces of brightness enhancement (prism) film from a dead LCD monitor? Those are the thin white plastic sheets in front of the thick glass/plastic plate. It diffuses the light very nicely, plus it hides the LED's from being seen when the device is not on. If you have no clue what I am talking about, go to youtube and check out the engineer guy's video on lcd monitors.

    This worked pretty well for me. I have a whole bunch of slow fade RGB LEDs that I needed to diffuse for the Eternal Flame project on makeprojects, and I just went at my LED with a fine grit sanding sponge. Turned out great

    Great Ible thanks I'm making a few led light bars in parrellel for my very first led project and needed a way to diffuse.. I didn't know 400 grit would work though.. So thanks! I thought I needed like 1000 grit paper but nevermind! PS if anyone wants to know how to make the led bar I will be posting an Ible on it after my first one is a success.. But anyway thanks a lot! :)

    I am trying to diffuse 512 LEDs for an 8x8x8 LED cube, and im having trouble. Sandpaper works, but isnt fast enough, and im afraid that frost paint will wear off. Any suggestions?

    I'm looking for a non-destructive ways to diffuse a led, any ideas? I don't have frosted spray paint.

    1 reply

    I tried sanding and that works, but then I poked around in my dremel accessories and found a abrasive wheel that does the job much more quickly and easily. Don't know what grit my wheel is, but it looks like this:

    DWheel.jpg

    this just made my day a lot easier i was trying to pass the light through paper in order to diffuse it but this much more practical thanks!

    This is a good tutorial but has anyone thought about clear frosted spray paint? It has the same effect while being able to cover as many leds as are needed in the same amount of time that it takes to do one. Just a thought. I had to do this for a project before i stumbled upon this tutorial and it worked great for me.

    !!!!WARNING!!!!!---!!!!WARNING!!!!!---!!!!WARNING!!!!!
    I tried using 220 grit sandpaper & I ended up exposing the metal that was incased in the clear plasitic / also I ended up making the LED into a cone shap instead of the original 5mm dome top shape. of coarse I was defusing an RGB Led...

    USE 400+ GRIT!!!!!