These are panels of plastic with a thin layer of electro luminescent coating that emits light when electrically charged.Often seen as a bit of a Tron look El panels are flexible thin laminates which glow when they have power running through them. The material feels like a thick card and is encased in something like cellulose. The light it gives off is pretty good but they are power hungry and large panels requires a power supply to get the full brightness. They can be worked on with conventional materials however they are sensitive to damage and can be easily broken if creased or cut in the wrong way.

Features

  • Emits light when it is electrically charged
  •  Is flexible and can bend round curves
  •  Can be cut to shape
  • EL displays can handle an impressive -60 C to 95 C temperature range, which LCD monitors cannot do
  • Is waterproof

Constraints

  • Breaks if creased
  • Will stop working when exposed to air.
  • Requires a high voltage to run
  • Long term has stability issues
  • Produces relatively low amount of light compared to power input.

 

Tron08
A Tron outfit made from EL panels

Manufacture & Fabrication

The most El panels are available on a thin film substrate or come in wire form. Their colour is controlled by the manufacturer through custom colours are available. When it comes to manufacture EL Panels can be cut with scissors at home however if the EL panel is exposed to air or peeled from the electrode backing that it has it will stop working. To get a feel for how to cut and shape EL panels I recommend that you check the online groups who discuss it or just search on youtube as they cover most of the important details.

Durability & Sustainability

EL panels are damaged from constant bending as it slowly work either air into the system or pulls the EL components away from the substrate. As for sustainability there’s not a lot out there on the impacts however the EL panels are not currently recyclable, the more important thing is that EL is a very wasteful way to create light. It uses a very high amount of power for a relatively low wattage.

Find out more at EL Wirecraft

The site above looks pretty bad but it’s spot on how to use EL technology. As a final bit of detail here’s man with a wonderful advertising voice telling and showing you what EL is capable of.

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