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LED Lighting

Types of LED Lights Commonly Used for Backlit Fabric Graphics and Lightboxes

As if the printed fabric landscape was not confusing enough, someone had the bright idea (pun intended) to use LED lights to make backlit fabric a “thing”. Enter the LED family of LED lighting products. I will hereby attempt to shed some light (wow I’m good with the puns today) on the various types of lights available to one when one wishes to make something back-lit. Let’s start right at the top. There are only two ways to light up a flat piece of graphic. Front lighting and back lighting.


Front Lighting or Front-lit

We’re not going to talk about this much because it’s boring and uncool. What I will say is that it doesn’t take much to front-light graphics; regardless of the printed material, you can shine a light on it and Voila!!! you have yourself a front-lit display. It’s not rocket science, heck it’s not even bicycle science, it’s just a light source placed in front of the graphics. Stand if front of a poster with a flashlight and there you are :)


Back Lighting

This is where s*%t gets interesting. One does not simply backlight any fabric, one must first have the right type of fabric. For the sake of keeping this post short-ish, I’m gonna assume that you are using a high-quality backlit fabric (more on this topic in future posts). You have a few lighting choices; in no significant order, they are as follows:

Side mounted LED modules 

(aka edge lit, edgelit, edge lighting, edge mounted, perimeter lighting)

The LED modules are mounted around the perimeter of the graphicLight shines toward the centre of the lightboxLight is scattered within the lightbox and indirectly shines thru the printed fabric graphics

Flat panel lighting 

(aka LGP, light guided panel, flat light panel, edge lit panel, edgelit panel, sheet lighting, and sometimes cabinet) - I know edge lit is used for both, annoying aint’ it?

The LED module is oriented around the perimeter of a sheet of clear rigid material which sits behind the graphic. Light shines into the clear sheet, scatters around and indirectly shines thru the printed fabric graphic


True Back Lighting (aka backlit) This one can take two forms:

Rear mounted LED modules 

(aka backlit, direct backlit, backlighting)

The LED modules are mounted on the inside the fabric lightbox, on the backLight shines directly forward and thru the printed fabric.


Lattice LED lighting

(aka ladder lights)

The LED modules are suspended inside the lightbox, from top to bottomLight shines directly forward and thru the printed fabric.

“Great" you say, “but how do I know which one to use for which application?” Here’s one of my favourite visual aids in the whole world ever, a visual aid with powers of magnificent proportion, a chart! To make it easier to digest, I have highlighted the key features of each light type, it’s reason d’être, the answer to “why would I use this product?"

Questions? Email me at estimates@shomi.ca.

Have a bright and wonderful day :)

Arash