My Fiber Optic Light Quit Working In Table Top Decoration

My Fiber Optic Light Quit Working In Table Top Decoration – About: Designer and artist of costumes and experimental fashion. Manufacturer of apparel and accessories for time-traveling, lucid dreaming cyborg superheroes. Interested in combining fashion design and leather work with Wea… more about Michaela Holmes »

Optic fibers! optic fibers! Admittedly, I’m a bit obsessed with fiber optics, and for good reason. They are a durable, versatile and relatively simple way to add beautiful lighting effects to everything you do. Just take a look at some of the amazing projects you can create with them! There was a time when I mostly used el wire in my light designs, but ever since Natalina and the amazing Technorainbows introduced me to the wonders of fiber optics in their various forms, I’ve been on a fiber optic bender. So come on, fall down this rabbit hole with me and become a fascinating marine creature in the universe… you know you want to.

My Fiber Optic Light Quit Working In Table Top Decoration

My Fiber Optic Light Quit Working In Table Top Decoration

Fiber optics can be used to bring lighting to many types of projects, but for this Instructable I will focus on their use in wearables because that is my area of ​​expertise. Fiber optics are also especially great for clothing, costumes, and accessories because they allow you to diffuse light from a single source, making your project require fewer lights and less power (always an important consideration when designing apparel). Because fibers can carry light from the electronics that make up the lighting source, they are also great for projects that need to be weatherproof or washable.

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Fiber optics themselves are clear and colorless, so a project-installed fiber optic lighting system will absorb the colored light that shines through it, or diffuse with color patterns if your light source is programmable or dynamic.

My Fiber Optic Light Quit Working In Table Top Decoration

Optical fibers come in a variety of diameters, shapes and types. In fact, the options seem to increase every time I look online. Different variations are best for different applications, so I’ll talk here about all the different types I’ve come across and the best uses I’ve found for them. I will also add to this guide as I discover more knowledge about fiber optics, but for now, this is what I know.

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The optical fibers I deal with in this guide are plastic fibers designed for lighting, not the slightly more sophisticated bundles of glass fibers that transmit data at high speed over long distances, but they work on the same basic principle: light shines through one. The tip from a light source, such as an LED or laser, travels down the optical fiber and comes out the other end.

My Fiber Optic Light Quit Working In Table Top Decoration

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A standard “end-emitter” optical fiber designed for lighting is a long thin plastic strand consisting of a very transparent core and an outer layer called a cladding. (Another name for this type of structure is “light tube”).

The transparent inner core allows light to travel unimpeded along the length of the fiber, while the cladding acts as a one-way mirror, containing any light that tries to leave the fiber back into the core in a process called total reflection. This combination of core and cladding allows light to travel along the fiber for great distances, even around bends, and comes out at the other end almost as bright as the original light source.

My Fiber Optic Light Quit Working In Table Top Decoration

However, depending on the quality of the fiber, some of the light may be damaged or lost along the way. Some optical fibers use this light decomposition, allowing some light to escape through the coating along the fiber, creating a uniform glow that looks a bit like a fluorescent tube. These fibers are called “side emitter” optical fibers.

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End-emitting fibers (also called end-glowing or end-light) are classic optical fibers, with bright spots of light at the ends and very little light escaping along the fibers themselves. They are usually thin, between 25 and 3 mm in diameter. They are also usually stiffer than the lateral fibers they release.

My Fiber Optic Light Quit Working In Table Top Decoration

End emitting filaments are great for directing individual light points away from a single light source. Projects like the star map in the second image above use fiber ends to spread light from a few points of light to a large number of tiny stars.

However, the threads emitting from the end do leak some light along the strands, and when they are bundled together, that light becomes visible in the dark, as seen in projects like Natalina’s fiber optic dress and coat and my optic fairy wings above. You can also strategically scratch or crimp the strands to create highlights along them. (I will talk about this later).

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My Fiber Optic Light Quit Working In Table Top Decoration

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I think projects like these are a great use of fiber optic end light because they use both the points of light at the ends of the fibers and the fainter light along the strands as visual design elements. Allowing some of your end glow fibers to hang loose is also very visually pleasing and creates a gorgeous bright dye effect as you move.

I’ve found that tip-light fibers under about 0.75mm (which seem to be a pretty standard size) don’t emit as much light along the strands, so if you want that kind of glow, go for a larger strand.

My Fiber Optic Light Quit Working In Table Top Decoration

Side-emitting fibers (also called side-glow, or sidelight) are generally larger and more flexible than edge-emitting fibers. They seem to be available anywhere from 2mm to 12mm in diameter.

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Because of the way they are constructed, with a coating that is intentionally less efficient, the light gradually exits the entire length of the fiber and creates a fairly uniform glow almost like a fluorescent tube or al wire.

My Fiber Optic Light Quit Working In Table Top Decoration

However, as you can see in the second image above, some of the light also escapes from the end of the fiber and creates a bright spot of light where the fiber is cut.

The intensity of the glow of the fiber depends on the intensity of the light source. For example, a 1 watt LED or laser will illuminate the fiber more than a neopixel LED. The fiber glow is also brightest near the light source and gradually fades, or sometimes whitens, as more light escapes along the fiber. I found that the glow of a fiber optic side light, lit with a standard LED at full brightness, becomes hard to see and slightly yellows about 5 feet from the light source.

My Fiber Optic Light Quit Working In Table Top Decoration

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You can combat this fading by placing a light source at both ends of the fiber, as I did in the third image above. It can also create amazing mixed color effects by different colored LEDs at each end of the fiber. Even placing a small mirror, instead of a second LED, at the other end of the fiber helps preserve the light, making the entire fiber brighter.

Side-emitting fibers are much more visible in ambient light than edge-emitting fibers, but they still create a diffused glow that looks better in the dark. Emitting side wires are great for projects where you want defined lines of light rather than discernible highlights. They would also be good for creating inner glows or low-lit elements of a project where you don’t want to see the fibers directly.

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My Fiber Optic Light Quit Working In Table Top Decoration

In addition to the basic distinction of side glow and end glow, you’ll likely come across some of the following variations in your fiber optic search:

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Multi Strand Glow Cable: This is a collection of glow end fibers packed together in a plastic case. I’ve seen ones with thick layers of black, designed to block all light except at the ends of the fibers, or in transparent wraps that allow you to see the fibers all the way along the cable. Usually these cables are filled with fibers of the same diameter, but I have also seen such cables containing several fibers of slightly different sizes for variety (they are designed to create ceilings with a star effect). Buying fiber optic in this form can be especially useful if you plan to run the fibers in bundles and want to make sure all your fibers bend in the same direction. However, getting the fiber out of the box can be a bit tricky and often results in the fiber being cut in places.

My Fiber Optic Light Quit Working In Table Top Decoration

Glossy cable: groups of end-gloss fibers are deliberately cut along the strands and connected with a transparent layer to create a glossy effect. I personally think they look a bit bland, but I’m sure they would be great for some projects.

Multi Strand Side Glow Cable: Unlike side glow cables, which contain straight fibers, the strands within these transparent cables are twisted, presumably to allow more light to escape along them. Like many fiber optics, they appear to be designed for interior design lighting, but after ordering and testing a sample of them, I really don’t see them having an advantage over large solid core glow fibers, and they don’t seem to work very well. I would not recommend them for garment projects.

My Fiber Optic Light Quit Working In Table Top Decoration

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