Edge Lit RGB panels

Hackaday provides many interesting project highlights. Today it tipped me off to a full color edge-lit display.

Basically just load any random image you want to have on your nightstand/mantle into Photoshop, isolate only one color layer, then bring that over to Illustrator and work as normal to vectorize it.

Actually, it would probably be better to vector first, then split the RGB layers. His approach is a bit different, but really it is a pretty simple application.

RGB works decently well in our televisions, where we can have a pitch black other side, and illuminate white by applying all 3 colors in the same location. Print media prefers to use CMYK, and I could see that being of benefit here. If you will have a white (and illuminated) background, then your black layer could be very thin black acrylic. Or if you enclose in a box to have a black background, you can invert the black layer and edge light in white.

To work around the parallax issues, inset the whole device to restrict available viewing angles. Though at that point you lose the bulk of the nifty factor.


I was just about to post that! Really cool idea and superb execution. I don’t know if CMYK will work because blending pigments and light are very different things. Worth experimenting with, though!

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OH MY WORD! That’s genius! I’ll definitely be trying that

I have seen CMYK used with light sources, but in that case it was to produce properly colored shadows. So you are right, in this case it would be the wrong approach.

Though it does introduce another change in this method… in the Open House, @dan would take people’s cut acrylic and shine a light on it, casting a nice shadow to enlarge their work.

So… cut in normal acrylic, then place in front of a colored light bulb. Arrange all of your color sources to cast in just the right spot (and probably distort prior to cutting so it shines “flat”), and you get full color projection onto a wall.


Add that to the “have to try” list

This is pretty sweet. You could also take this concept to create other types of layered imagery. If youve seen the original iron man youll know what im talking about: the part where he laid all of the schematics on top of each other that combined into a single image.


I am certainly going to make a few of those!

The projection idea is basically the same as a couple of types of commercial projectors just static.

ok… so… brainstorming here… if you were to etch different complementary textures on several layers of acrylic, stack them, and mount a projector (or two, or three?) underneath… quasi-3d transparent standing video screen?

I was trying to come up with a solution for that the first time I saw this concept. I couldnt think of a way for each layer to have pixel level detail though without light bleed to the other pixels…

Another take on this idea would be to have two layers, one illuminated red and another cyan, and use 3D glasses (the red/cyan type) to view it. The offset between corresponding objects in the image would determine the apparent “depth” of the object.

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Check out this http://blog.biotek.com/2015/08/how-to-turn-your-ipad-into-cool-3d.html?m=1

Use 4 different images pojected onto a precisely positioned hollow acrylic pyramid to get a “hologram”. You could always go down the route you are saying but I think it’s a bit overkill


Hey everyone, I think this is my first post on the forums. I pre ordered my glowforge a while back, but have just been lurking here. I did miss this post however. I created the Lit-O-Pane instructable, and I am glad you guys like it! I used my friends homemade laser cutter to cut and etch these, but the glowforge should do a great job creating these. I should warn however that shortly after it was posted on hackaday, I received a message from someone claiming that they have a patent on this technique. I did a patent search before I started the project, and came up empty, but that’s because they named it something completely different than what it actually is. I eventually found it by searching their name. I looked at the patent somewhat, and I have noticed that my method seems to have more of the kinks worked out, but I have yet to see a physical device that the patent holder has made. Even though I haven’t received a cease and desist letter, and I wanted everyone to be able to make these, I would probaby recommend that you hold off on selling these. I personally don’t want to risk a lawsuit, but you might be fine if you only make it for yourself, as long as you don’t sell them. (I AM NOT A LAWYER! PLEASE TAKE ANY ADVICE FROM ME WITH A GRAIN OF SALT) Kinda a bummer though. I was hoping people could make these, or even sell them. I love open source, so it is kind of a bummer that people can’t create or improve on my method openly.


Oh wow! That’s hectic! I would love to look at the patent! I’m surprised you can patent like that. :frowning: It’s like banning oil painting or something. Sad.


Seriously? Patent? Lithophane has got to be a technique that free from encumbrance. Just because you change the light source to LEDs and use colored acrylic? Surely there is prior art.


There is some prior art out there. I know I have seen layered edge lit displays before, some with 2 colors as well. I am not sure if it is too late to file prior art or not though.

Yeah, it’s a little annoying, but I have the instructions up, so I hope people take advantage of that at least. I will dig up the patent number, but I didn’t mean to get off topic. I think people should experiment with this idea/technique, because I only had a short time to use the laser cutter. Once people start getting their glowforges though, I know the community will make some great stuff, and also improve on it!

edit* found it. patent #9,164,214 I wasn’t posting the whole story to divert the discussion btw, it was just for full disclosure. I definetly think people should tinker with it more.


@haqnmaq, welcome to the community! That’s an amazing project - bummer about the complaint. I’m quite eager to see what to do when you get your own glowforge, though.


Thanks Dan! I have a lot of things that I am excited to make when I get my Glowforge.

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Welcome, you are among brethren here (and Ladies!)
With every member the forum grows stronger.
So begins your lesson in patience. :no_mouth:

We have a great group here, very diverse in skill and experience, and grateful to count yours among them.