Edge-lit Acrylic Question

For those with the experience in edge-lit acrylic… if I had a tray, with LEDs arranged along the side, something like this:

Would this still work? Or would the light be too diffused by the time it hits the piece?

As an option, can the light transfer from piece to piece? Even if the entire edge isn’t touching?

My guess is that no, these scenarios wouldn’t work very well. But I thought I’d better ask before writing the idea off completely.


Scenario 1 would work better than scenario 2, but both would work depending on the distance between the LED and the acrylic edge, and the brightness of the LED. You could always use a small focusing lens in scenario 1. Scenario 2, I assume, are two pieces of acrylic edge polished and glued together. If that is the case then LED light transmission will be very close to the percentage of the faces are glued. Again a very bright LED would give better results. - Rich


I agree w/ @chrgeup for the most part. I’ll say this… I went ahead and tested real quick just now. As I lifted the acrylic away from the LEDs the light increasingly diminished, of course. But I was surprised I was able to get a good inch or so away and light still made it to the top of the 8" sheet. Was better than I expected. Then I took a second piece of acrylic and butt it up against the first. It didn’t really transmit well at all.


Thanks for the feedback.

Scenario 2 would be a drop-in slot for a game piece. An example would be a Scrabble board that has the raised grid in which the letter tiles sit. I would have the grid be pre-lit, and the tiles would drop in and “light up” as they did.

Scenario 1 is better for the game, but the nature of the game is such that the tray would have to be significantly bigger than would be conducive to having the lighting work properly…


Thanks for testing… an inch is pretty good… and the pieces I want to use would be .5"-1" in size… hmmm.


The key is polished edges where the light enters, Shouldn’t be a problem if they are lasered.


Edge lit works due like fiber optics and a lot of other things to internal reflection. So as long s you have an optically clear interface you should be pretty good I would think?


That is a killer idea! Make it happen :slight_smile:

There are several things you would need to do to make this work.

  1. Chamfer any corners that will need to transmit light. Square corners don’t make light turn.
  2. Polish any interfaces and glue them together. Airspace doubles the transition surfaces and drops your transmissivity.
  3. Make sure the fits are as tight as possible even if they aren’t glued and any adjoining faces are as close to parallel as possible.

A said already needs to be clear. If it’s frosted the light will dissipate quickly. If you use methylene chloride to bond the acrylic it will transfer the light through any configuration of pieces. As for a uniform light transfer perhaps look at LED neon flex tube.