TL;DR: I finished the EL headbands I’ve been working on :D.
I finished up the electroluminescent headbands I described in my post a few weeks ago here. Since my prototype was close to the final product, completing the production was fast after I received the custom fabric components.
As in the prototype, EL wire was passed through the printed channels and
connected to a DC to AC inverter for power. I found nifty coin battery sized
inverters, which fit directly on the bands without too much interference. The
most time consuming portion of the build was attachment of the plastic to the
fabric, since I’m bad at hand sewing.
Here’s the build gallery:
Here’s a bonus gif, with a little preview of a flag project I’ve been working on as well…
TL;DR: For my friend Teddy’s birthday, I made him a hypebeast worthy (if I
do say so myself) Supreme EL box.
My good friend Teddy is one of the biggest hypebeasts I know, so I wanted to
make something he would like. I went back to the EL wire well again for this
project (see: headbands http://www.andrewpip.com/2019/03/28/el-wire-lighted-headbands/
and sign <http://www.andrewpip.com/2019/04/07/faux-neon-signage>).
However, I needed to dig into my paint supplies dating all the way back to my
Iron Man Mask (http://www.andrewpip.com/2018/05/06/infinity-war-masks).
Conceptually, this project was relatively simple:
I made a box.
I cut some channel shaped holes in the box.
I painted the box.
I put my wire through the box.
I gave Teddy the box.
For this project, honestly I think the gallery will explain things better than I can in words, so here it is (it looks nicer if you click to open the full-sized images):
TL;DR: For my friend Gina’s birthday, I made her a faux-neon sign to
decorate her new condo with. I ended up making a few different versions of this
sign and through the process, I learned several useful tricks to speed up
vector image modifications, which will definitely make it easier for me going
I continued playing with el wire since I bought so much for my headband project. Since my friend’s birthday was coming up, I figured it was a great opportunity to make something cool with it. I decided to make a faux-neon sign reading “Mama G’s House”.
I started by searching for neon sign fonts on google and downloaded a few to
try out including “Warnes”, “La Patio Script”, “I am online with u”, and
“Fenotype Neon”. All of them were free to download, but not all of them were
free for commercial usage, which is fine for this project as I’m not selling
The first prototype I made used Warnes as the base font. I really liked how
the letters all connect at the bottom. However, I needed to do a bit of surgery
in Inkscape to connect the disparate words after vectorization:
I imported the SVG directly into a sketch Fusion 360 and resized it to
ensure I had a ~3mm wide channel all over. Next, I modified the sketch to
remove areas near the bottom where the lettering overlapped. In a fashion
similar to what I did for the EL headbands, I extruded a positive model of the
letters. Next, I needed to move the apostrophe body and combine it with the
rest of the lettering. Then, I created a sketch, offset the entire object, and
cleaned up the line overlapping lines created by the offset tool. After
extruding the outlined body, I cut the positive lettering model out:
After slicing the STL in Cura, and waiting about 3 hours for production, the
print came out pretty well:
However, with the physical model in front of me, I saw the font I used had a
few issues. Primarily, although the channels I made fit the el wire, there were
too many places where stringing it required a double back, which was not
accounted for. Oops. Luckily, I hadn’t spent a lot of time on this, and I
figured Gina could still use it as a nice decoration even without lighting
The next font I tried was called “I am online with u” which had the
advantage of being a single connected line. Although this font was more ideal out
of the box, I still needed to tweak the vector version to make it work
properly. Essentially, I just modified the “corners” of the letters to allow
for more space wherever they changed direction, I adjusted the spacing between
words and letters, and I moved and combined the apostrophe to overlap with the
My workflow in Fusion 360 was essentially identical to the one I used for
the previous version of the sign: import svg, scale, and clean up sketch ->
extrude a positive channel -> offset the body and extrude the outline ->
use the combine tool to cut the positive channel away from the outlined body. Unfortunately,
this part was a bit too big to fit on my printer in one piece, so I needed to
split it into two. The split created a physical weakness which I shored up by
creating a small base to hold it together and help the entire assembly stand
The print didn’t take very long—maybe about 4 hours in total for all the pieces. I was pretty happy with the results, and I think she was too 🙂
TL;DR: My friends asked me to make custom light up costume headbands for
them in the style of Naruto… so I did. I 3D printed channels through which I
fed electroluminescent wire to make logos of their favorite DJ’s. While the
project is simple in concept, I needed to dust off a bunch of tools I hadn’t
utilized in a while to complete it. While I’m not quite finished with these, I’m
too excited about how the project is looking NOT to share.
In the anime Naruto, the characters wear headbands to protect their
foreheads while they fight. My friends wanted ones that light up for their
costumes, and asked if I could help. If you want to skip over a lot of unnecessary
detail, just go to the gallery at the bottom where I put the build photos 😛
El wire is a fantastic way to add lighting effects to projects since it is
very bendable, easy to install, and does not require any programming at all
(just add power!). Before this project, I hadn’t played with electroluminescent
(el) wire for years, so I was excited to jump back in. The technology has
become a lot more common and widely available than I remember—there’re tons of
vendors for wire and the requisite DC to AC inverters. Unfortunately, the
inverters still make an annoying high pitched buzz whenever they’re on.
In terms of the mechanical design, the headband was very simple. I created a
base in Fusion 360 CAD to reuse in each version with a different logo. The
majority of my time has actually been spent optimizing the image preparation
pipeline. To go from a 2D-logo to a cut channel, the process I went through was
Prepare an outline image in Gimp (a free Photoshop competitor). The easiest way I found to do this was by using the fuzzy select tool to select the outline of the image I wanted to convert, then using the stroke selection tool.
After saving the image as a bitmap in Gimp, I imported the file in Inkscape (similar to Adobe Illustrator) and stroked the bitmap to a path. I resized the vector image to fit my headband base, and manually edited the nodes until all parts of the path were approximately 2.5mm in width to fit my el wire.
Initially, I was exporting vector images as 2D
CAD-friendly DXF files. However, I made the groundbreaking discovery that
Fusion 360 actually lets you directly import and use SVG files. Using the
vector files (svg) directly is a lot more computationally friendly and MUCH
easier to work with. For example, the dxf version of the Illenium logo had
upwards of 670 line elements, whereas the svg file had two curves.
Within Fusion 360, I directly extruded the imported drawing.
Next, I did a few manipulations with the combine and move bodies menu to create
a “positive” model of the channel I wanted to CUT from the headband.
One of the limitations of working with el wire is that there is a minimum bend radius before you can actually break the wire and cause shorts. Unfortunately, since I was making headbands most of the detailed bends weren’t physically possible to make in a single piece. To maintain sharp edges required for the logo designs, I created pass through holes. This allows me to bend the wire in an unsightly loop where it can’t be seen in the final product. Positive models of the pass through holes were created by extruding cylinders from behind the headband up to the channel model.
Lastly, I created some “channels” on the back of the
headbands to accommodate the loops. In an early prototype, I created actual
channels out of spline sketches, but that proved to be a lot of work for no
reason. Now, I’ve simply created large inset areas that can fit the el wire
loops. It’s much less effort to achieve the same result. The positives for this
were extruded initially as separate bodies to the channels so I could shift
them backward about 0.8mm before joining to the rest of the positive channel
A simple combine, export as STL, and slicing in Cura
resulted in a pretty decent print, if I do say so myself ;).
The first prototype I printed was in black PLA before I received this gorgeous silk silver shiny PLA made by Hatchbox on Amazon. I quickly realized that I didn’t have a great way of making the fabric for the bands since I don’t have any sewing skills. I am incredibly lucky to have super talented parents (check out my dad’s website here… he’s much more artistically talented than I am: www.bounsaypipathsouk.com) who are always willing to help. I Facetime called them to explain what I was making and mailed them my first sample. A few days later, I received some photos of my prototype solidly attached to a custom headband they made, and should receive them next week :D.
While there are still a few improvements left for me to make before I deliver
my final product, I’m pretty stoked at how well the project has turned out so
far, and just couldn’t wait to share.