Welcome to the wonderful world of VynELTM! We are excited to share this design guide with you to help better understand the technology and how to use it. Inside this guide, you will find helpful hints, learn technological limitations, understand the design process, and fast track your knowledge to integrating VynELTM into your next project. If you run into issues, have questions, or need assistance with integration, please feel free to call or email us.
What is VynELTM?
VynELTM derives from Electroluminescent (or as we will call it throughout the guide, EL) phosphor, but uses NASA grade materials to deliver its finished product. When comparing it to EL Panels, a common ancestor, VynELTM is far more flexible, more integratable, about 2-3x brighter and has more customization options. VynELTM lighting has unique properties which make it perfect for countless applications from Stage Performances, Safety and Athletic Gear, Sporting Goods, Outdoor Products, Automotive Applications and much more! Because VynELTM uses phosphor for lighting, it requires a specific voltage and frequency to light the material. When this voltage is applied, a beautiful and even light occurs.
How is VynELTM Produced?
VynELTM is made similar to screen printing a T-shirt, and 5 plates go into the makeup of each panel. When we make a custom design, we hold and maintain the screens for the lifetime of the project, or up to 10 years. The maximum single panel size can be 31” x 64”, but the most common sizes for wearables are 1sqft or under.
VynELTM does require an inverter to make it operate. For best results, we recommend a custom inverter for most applications. The reason being, most off the shelf inverters are never properly tuned, and have a wide range of operation. While this is great for prototyping products, it will use more battery power, generate more noise, have a more limited lifespan, and not perform at the optimal brightness levels. Therefore, we typically recommend making a custom inverter after the design is finalized, so the VynELTM panel can operate at its optimal performance.
Inverters will consume varying amounts of power, depending on the size of the illumination. As a general rule of thumb, panels consumes between 5-15mA per square inch. This is important to note, as the larger the illuminated area, the more power the product will consume. As the product consumes more power, larger batteries are needed as additional bulk and ability to hide the inverter become more difficult. This is especially true in wearable applications.
VynELTM creates the perfect amount of light for very specific applications. In technical terms, the brightness created from the panel itself measures around 250-400cd/m2, but when comparing them to typical EL Panels (around 100-150cd/m2), and LED Strip Lights (600 Lumens/meter, they will fall somewhere in the middle. LEDs are typically used in applications that need to cast (or throw) a vast amount of light, typically in fixed positions. EL Panels are used in low lit environments like Subway, Bars, Nightclubs, etc. Because VynELTM is about 2x-4x the brightness of a standard EL Panel, a far wider range of applications can be used, especially in the safety, wearables, tradeshow, stage performance and event industries. While VynELTM does carry this brightness, when comparing them to daylight, or even LED's the light output cannot compete. This is the largest design consideration to keep in mind; it is best NOT to design VynELTM to compete with daylight like automotive headlights, or to wash a wall of light. Instead, VynELTM should be used for active illumination where the users will embrace and recognize the light source. Safety or “cool” lighting in wearables to camping lights are a great way to use the technology.
Safety is our main concern, especially when dealing with wearable applications so each panel has special considerations of not only the inverter design, but panel design and even wiring as well. Each panel is sealed with our proprietary TPU and we recommend heat bonding into garments for best results and most integrated design to textiles. This also creates the most flexibility and ability to have the product move freely with the garment. Sewing will provide slightly more rigidity around the panel and restricts the user with slightly less movement, but certainly a good choice for specific designs.
The wiring we've created uses a specialized cabling called Filament, which interweaves conductive yarn into a fabric. This is available in a waterproof and non-waterproof version, depending on the application. We recommend using the waterproof Filament for outerwear that has the potential to get wet, such as backpacks, tents or jackets. Our non-waterproof Filament is fine for t-shirts and other garments, when coupled with waterproof no-sew tape to bond to the garment. As mentioned previously, custom inverters are recommended because it keeps the panel at optimal performance and cuts down on inverter AND panel noise by up to 95%. Collectively, these safety considerations keep the user from being shocked and free from harm.
Batteries do have a large design and safety consideration as well and should be addressed. Each battery does have its advantages and disadvantages, but due to the scope of battery considerations, we will omit from this guide. Should the need arise for battery advice and pairing, our engineering team is happy to assist.
VynELTM is one of the most versatile lighting elements on the planet currently. It can be custom made into virtually any shape, size or color, so the application uses are virtually endless. As such, this guide is more to provide considerations in the design process versus spell out each individual application.
Mentioned in the limitation section but worth reiterating, the size of illumination is one of the largest design considerations in the process. Because each square inch will have an overall impact on the design, whether it be inverter size, battery size, integration and more, understanding that only the lit portion will have a factor in power consumption is important.
VynELTM is not limited to circles, squares or rectangles. Because the process to make each panel is a similar process of screen printing T-shirts, the lit objects don’t necessarily need to touch in order for the panel to operate. This allows for unique graphics, special designs, and endless possibilities in the design process. Similar to printing graphics on banners, you can choose to light up the entire surface, and block out light where you want the word, logo, artwork, etc to not shine through. Conversely if you wanted to make the overall package smaller and take less power, you could opt to light up only the logo, or word that’s intended to be illuminated.
Virtually any color can be made through the world of VynELTM, but keep in mind certain colors will shine better than others, and will not change colors. Options to sequence are certainly possible, so if two sections of the panel were next to each other, one red, the other white, you could turn each on independently to signal different colors, but understand the actual panel cannot change colors.
The phosphors used in VynELTM emit either a teal blue, or white light naturally. Between these two colors, we can use filters which are kind of like stage lighting gels to achieve almost an endless variety of colors. Graphics can also be printed on the secondary film, so even multiple color images can shine through. Keep in mind the teal blue phosphor (we call Vibrant Blue) naturally emits a light around 350-400cd/m2, versus the White phosphor that emits a light around 250cd/m2. This is important when looking for the brightest color possible, to understand which filters should be applied. Colors that work well for the teal blue phosphor are blues, pinks, greens, and some oranges and yellow. Colors that are more appropriate for the white phosphor are reds, purples, and other oranges and yellows. Because the white phosphor has a lower brightness threshold, these colors will not appear as bright.
The durometer (flexibility) of VynELTM can vary depending on application and use, but as a rule of thumb, the thicker the material, the more robust it becomes. Conversely, the thinner the material, the more flexible it becomes. We manufacture VynELTM in thicknesses varying from 0.25mm to 0.8mm, which we typically refer to 0.25-0.5mm as LD (Light Duty) VynELTM, and from 0.5-0.8mm as HD (Heavy Duty) VynELTM. In garments, typically lighter weight garments like shirts and shorts, LD is more appropriate, however in outerwear like jackets, backpacks, hats, shoes, tents, etc, the HD VynELTM is recommended.
VynELTM also has countless ways that it can be applied, depending on the material being applied to. Heat bonding is the preferred method for fabrics like cotton, polyester, denim and more, which will provide the most flexibility upon integration. Sewing can add a nice visual accent when applying due to the contrasting stitch color, but will increase the rigidity slightly over heat bonding. Connectors used will play a part into the overall design process as there are literally millions of connectors available on the market, all suitable for slightly different things. The standard EZ Snap EL Connector is great for prototyping due to its lightweight nature, but the sharpness and size of the connector make it unsuitable for many wearable applications. Typically the design flow process we recommend is:
Panel Design -> Inverter Design -> Connector and finally Cabling
This is the most common application method for wearables is heat bonding. There are thousands of no-sew heat bonding products on the market, but a select few work well for any given material composition. Because of this, we recommend sending us a sample of the textile(s) so our design and engineering team can ensure we have a heat bonding product that can withstand the rigors of your project or product. When considering this option, you are faced with two options; The “Front Bond” method and the “Back Bond” method as we will call them.
The Front Bond method is similar to applying a patch onto a garment, where a small slit is cut in the fabric and the wiring is run through the slit. The heat bond is applied on the backside of the panel and the full panel is bonded to the front of the garment. This method is easier in the manufacturing process, but does have a less finished look, because the full panel, including the border around the edge is seen.
The Back Bond method is applied by cutting a hold in the garment where the light is intended to shine through. The heat bond material is then applied to the front edges of the panel, and sealed to the garment from the backside of the garment. This creates a more professional, sealed look but does require more manufacturing time.
If a heat bond method is not an option, then sewing the edges can be a nice alternative. Each panel has electrical current that runs through the panel, and it is NOT recommended to sew through the panel. In most instances, we can add an extra non-conductive border around the edges of the panel, which will allow you to sew around the panel. NOTE: If the conductive part of the panel is sewn through, the panel may cease to illuminate, or get damaged upon routine maintenance.
You have two main options for which will each have their advantages; either hard wire (no connector) or detachable (connector). If the garment or product is intended to be laundered, as of June 2017, no stable waterproof inverter has been created for VynELTM although various waterproof inverters are in development. In this case, we recommend having a connector in order to detach from the garment upon maintenance. Various connectors depending on need are available, and each will have their advantages. Typically, the larger the connector, the more robust it becomes. Conversely, the smaller or more low profile, the more difficult it becomes to blind mate (attach without looking) and more fragile the connector.
This guide should get you started into the wide and fast growing world of VynELTM lighting. Inevitably this guide cannot account for everything that you may encounter with your project, but we are happy to help at any step along the way. For further assistance or to start designing your next VynELTM project, please email or call us at: