Sunday, September 25, 2022
Home3D PrintingWeekend Builds: Neon Indicators | MatterHackers

Weekend Builds: Neon Indicators | MatterHackers

We’ve been doing a little Spring cleansing and renovating within the Artistic Workplace; desks are transferring round, backgrounds are getting arrange, and recording areas are being finalized. A part of that growth was determining learn how to beautify the primary set, and by likelihood a beneficial YouTube video was the spark we would have liked: a neon signal of the MatterHackers brand. Determining how this could all go collectively did take some trial and error, however if you happen to observe alongside you’ll discover the steps I took that truly labored.

To start out off, listed below are the supplies and instruments that this challenge wanted:


A design to observe – I’ll get into extra element on what you want for this.

  • Acrylic sheet – That is the background for the signal. The acrylic makes the neon look likes it’s floating and provides it extra depth, however you might simply as simply use a sheet of plywood as a substitute.
  • Printed brackets – I made a pair fundamental brackets at particular angles and a few brackets in a selected form to carry the neon lights.
  • Neon LED lights – It’s like rope lights however higher! Due to how they’re designed, you get a significantly better subtle gentle, so you possibly can’t even inform these are simply constituted of a bunch of LEDs. Big tip: don’t get AC powered Neon LEDs. In what I discovered, AC powered lights solely will let you lower them each 20 inches; lower between there and also you get a protracted useless part. DC powered LEDs had a wide range of lower lengths, nevertheless it was rather a lot simpler to seek out one I may lower each inch. This is the precise itemizing I bought from for this challenge.
  • Energy provide -The outline of the Neon LEDs had a beneficial one, so I went with that; 12V 120W.


  • Scorching glue gun/sizzling glue – To stick the brackets to the acrylic. This may increasingly not work as properly for a wooden backing, so it’s possible you’ll wish to use screws.
  • Tremendous glue – To stick the sections of LED too small to make use of brackets
  • Soldering iron, solder, and wires – to attach every part of LED into one full circuit.
  • Sharp knife – artwork knife, razor blade, exacto knife, no matter you have got that’s sharp and you may management.
  • Mounting {hardware} – I used drywall screws and anchors, however relying on the place and what you’re  mounting towards will decide what you want.
    Drill and drill bits – to make room for the standoffs for mounting.

Designing the template

Earlier than you dive too deep into this, you have to determine what sort of signal you wish to make. After all, I did a MatterHackers brand, however the important thing factor to recollect when designing your signal is to consider how every part will join to one another: the place are the road breaks going to be, the place will separate islands join to one another, and many others. The neon gentle is versatile, however not tremendous versatile; don’t count on to make a pointy 90° flip, slightly a gradual bend. To extra carefully replicate the MatterHackers brand, it labored finest to create lineart of it – principally simply the define – and use that as the bottom slightly than making the emblem one strong colour.

Designing the brackets

Trying on the MatterHackers brand, there are numerous angles and straight traces, and never numerous pure curves. This meant it was massively vital to maintain the lights straight alongside every path as a result of any waviness to it might be extremely apparent. Initially, I solely made brackets for the corners and you might inform – it was a catastrophe. On the second try, principally your complete signal was supported by brackets, which made meeting rather a lot simpler too. Whereas designing the brackets, I used MatterControl to first do a mockup of the overall form of the sunshine and made the bracket to suit round it. I acquired fortunate and had the primary try match actually snugly on the sunshine however to not such a level that it was stressing the 3D prints. Ultimately I had three kinds of brackets: straight sections, 120° sections, and one massive circle for the circle of the emblem (with a small cutout for wires to go by). Within the video you’ll most likely see the outlet by all of the brackets, and that’s as a result of I initially supposed to make these use screws, however surprisingly sizzling glue held on manner stronger than I anticipated and so they weren’t crucial. If as a substitute I wished to make use of a wooden backing, then they might positively turn out to be useful.

Designing and reducing the acrylic

We took the graphic create because the template and expanded the border of it ever so barely to have a little bit of unfavorable area across the signal. This additionally gave me a vector file I may make the most of to chop it out. I’ve numerous instruments at my disposal. Not numerous energy instruments however a ton of computerized instruments like 3D printers and CNCs. For me, it was rather a lot simpler to create a vector file from the unique design and lower it out utilizing a Shapeoko XXL and a ½” bit than it was to try to freehand it utilizing my nonexistent jigsaw or bandsaw. Use the instruments you have got accessible to you to chop this half performed, whether or not it’s reducing out a chunk of plastic or making a pleasant picket background.

Printing the brackets

That is the simple half. I’d advocate printing with as many perimeters as you possibly can since these have to flex a tiny bit with out breaking. I printed mine with 4 perimeters at 30% infill and I used to be capable of get the brackets printed out in about eight hours on the Pulse XE.

Setup for meeting

Begin by printing out the design and tape all of the items again collectively into one massive template. You’ll wish to be as exact with this as you possibly can, as a result of this can be your information in assembling the signal. I simply used no matter tape was closest, which was blue tape, and set to work taping every web page collectively like an enormous puzzle. You’ll then wish to lay your acrylic sheet on high of the paper and finalize your spacing across the edges, then tape the acrylic to the paper so it doesn’t slip.

Take your brackets and lay them out over your complete signal. Examine for anyplace that appears prefer it would possibly want extra help or the place it’d profit from a constraint to maintain its form. It’d be useful to take an image of it at this level, as a result of simply transferring across the neon gentle will get in the way in which of the brackets.

Reduce off an finish piece of sunshine from both finish of the LEDs; 5 inches must be sufficient. You’ll use this as a ruler so you may get on the finish of a whole part of LED to keep away from useless zones. It doesn’t matter the place you narrow by for this piece, simply watch out with the fragile strip of LED on the within, you wish to take away that in a single piece; don’t rip your ruler in half.


Decide one main part of lighting and begin there. As soon as your glue gun is sizzling and prepared, put a glob of glue onto the again of the bracket and press it onto the trail of your signal. Begin with issues like corners and distinctive shapes earlier than doing lengthy straghtaways; you don’t wish to put a straight piece too near a nook and never have sufficient room. Be sure to don’t go overboard with the glue – you simply need sufficient to squish between the bracket and the acrylic, however not a lot that it oozes out. It’s nice if it does, however your signal will look messier on a better inspection.

Maintain the “ruler” over the tip of the neon gentle, matching up the solder factors of the sunshine to the ends of the ruler and begin marking the place every part ends (or each different, no matter works). When you’ve acquired a good size measured, weave the total size of sunshine by the brackets till you attain a degree the place they’ll’t make the flip as cleanly as you’d like (in my case the nook on the ends of the hexagon) and discover the lower line closest to the place you wish to finish the lights. Fastidiously press your knife into the sheathing, being light sufficient to not lower by or scratch the strip inside. You’re first checking that your ruler was on the mark and that there’s certainly the tip of a bit the place you marked it and never proper by an LED. For those who can see that your mark was correct and there’s a lower line seen, lower alongside it and separate the 2 sections. Repeat this for the remainder of the lengths of sunshine on this part: threading it, lining it up, and reducing it off.

Upon getting all of your free sections, fastidiously tin the contacts every strip, and lower,strip, and tin quick lengths of wire to bridge the hole between every part of LED. If the size of LED is just too quick to comfortably slot in a bracket (as within the bracket will crowd that space), I discovered that superglue holds the lights onto the acrylic rather well. It’s principally a everlasting answer, so try to design your manner round this gap if you happen to can keep away from it (nevertheless it’s not such as you’d take aside your lovely signal when it’s performed, proper?) Repeat this for the remainder of the signal. There’s going to be numerous reducing, stripping, and soldering, however it’ll all be price it in the long run.


Like I discussed earlier than, I wished this mounted on the wall within the background of our movies, so I wanted to do greater than an image hanging hook and name it good. After doing a little analysis, I used to be reminded of how glass is historically mounted on partitions: a gap by the glass, a standoff that screws into the wall, and a cap that threads into the standoff and thru the glass. Making a cap that has screws on it’s doable however would take some work to get tolerances down, however a easy friction match relying the layer traces can be simple sufficient. With half an hour’s work I modeled a standoff across the drywall anchors and the screws it got here with.

  • Standoff – thick sufficient on the backside of the outlet to offer the screw sufficient plastic to press towards, holes large sufficient for it to simply go by however not sloppily, and a small gap on the underside to suit the drywall anchor (since they don’t press in fully flush with the wall).
  • Insert – thick sufficient to have sufficient plastic for the screw to press towards, sufficient area between the insert and standoff to help the acrylic
  • Caps – Simply sufficient tolerance to press into the insert and never fall out, however simple to pry out if I have to entry the screws once more.

After some experimentation with reducing holes in some scrap acrylic, I discovered that beginning with a pilot gap and instantly transferring to the total dimension drill bit shattered chunks out of the acrylic, regularly growing the dimensions of the bit prompted some chipping, and taping each side of the acrylic and taking it simple nonetheless fashioned micro-fractures within the acrylic. With one final try earlier than breaking out the soldering iron once more and melting the holes in it, I attempted a spade bit. It was excellent. Taking it simple I used to be capable of carve by the acrylic rather a lot gently than an everyday bit, after which I may clear up the outlet with an everyday bit to get it to the fitting dimension.

With the signal on the wall, I took a protracted part of wire and fed it behind the show shelf to the facility provide down under, lower it, stripped it, and inserted it into the facility provide with its protecting case. All that was left was to show it on, and it really labored!

 So whereas this text is verbose, from begin to end, I actively labored on the MatterHackers neon signal for under 5 – 6 hours, and that was nonetheless with trial and error going into it. I hope this offers you some concepts of an indication you wish to create, massive or small. Both manner, I’d like to see what you give you.

Completely satisfied printing!



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