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Florissant Valley Engineering Team Invents LED Lighted Display Unit

April 09, 2014

LED display  
This LED lighted display unit was created by the Engineering
and Technology department at Florissant Valley for Engineers
Week.

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention.

The Florissant Valley Engineering and Technology department needed a show-and-tell item for Engineers Week at the Science Center, and a new invention was born.

Steve Ehlen, supervisor in the Engineering Technology Center at Florissant Valley, came up with the idea for the Emerson Center LED lighted display unit.

“It was designed to showcase applications of our equipment in the additive manufacturing lab and the advanced manufacturing lab,” he said.

The Emerson Center logo was laser etched in the back side of the glass, which was then spray-painted to fill in the depth of the etching.

“The spray paint on the non-etched portion of the glass was then scraped off to leave only the paint in the depth of the etched logo so that the LED light from below would reflect off it to give it a 3D look,” Ehlen said.

This was done to show how light is transmitted through glass and reflected off changes in the levels of its surface.


The glass was etched using a CO2 laser by importing the Emerson logo to the laser printer’s software and reversing the image.

Ehlen said the picture frame holder was designed to hold the glass above a strip of LEDs so that they could produce the effect without being seen by the viewer.

The frame was made in three parts to show the capabilities of each additive manufacturing lab printer.

“The base unit which holds the strip of LEDs was made on our ZCorp 510 3D modeler, which prints an ink-based glue-on powder in layers to form a part,” Ehlen said.

The insert that fits into the base and serves to support the back of the glass at the correct angle was printed on a fused deposition modeler printer that extrudes a melted bead of ABS plastic in layers to form a part.

The front frame for the glass was printed on a multi-jet modeler printer that prints droplets of a UV-cured material in layers to form a part.

All of the parts were designed using the SolidWorks modeling software that is used in solid modeling classes at Florissant Valley.

“Without Kristopher Matson’s ability to design parts using SolidWorks modeling software and produce parts on 3D printers, the project would not have come to fruition,” Ehlen said.