Collapsible UV LED Lamp + Resin Oven

This tutorial goes over the making of a collapsible UV light, made from UV LED strips, and a flexible-but-rigid foil + air backer.

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This is a DIY UV LED exposure unit that can be made for under $50 in supplies. This UV lamp is malleable, collapsible, and incredibly lightweight.

Think of this project page as a tool kit and material study to help you build the resin curing device that suits the scale and budget needed for your curing project.

I made this collapsible + malleable UV lamp to fulfill my need for a UV 'fill light' that I could use for cyanotype printing. It turns out this lamp would also be perfect for UV resin curing. 

I was starting to use cyanotype chemistry more often in my art practice for custom commissions of textiles. Cyanotyping is an analog photographic process that relies on a chemical reaction activated by UV light coming into contact with the photo-sensitive cyanotype chemistry soaked medium like paper or fabric . You may be familiar with our the earth's main source of UV light - the sun. The sun is a great way to expose cyanotypes, however, pesky clouds and wind can interrupt the exposure of your plate. 

Looking at the Field Ready design challenge for the 2020 Hackaday Prize, this lamp also makes for a pretty handy UV resin oven! Here's my final video that details the iterations I've explored as material research as a Finalist in this year's contest:

Check out this project log that goes over how to set up this lamp as an easily deployable UV Resin curing oven

I used mylar + air pack insulation as a backer for the LED strips. I know this material could be rigid, but also collapsible - when it's ready to be stored it quickly rolls up and can be put away in a compact shape.

The frame in the pictures and videos is made from 8x 24" PVC struts and joined with 4x 3-way elbow connectors that don't use cement. The upside of using pressure fits is that the lamp can collapse quickly and be reconstructed easily when needed. 

If you're working with small parts or don't want to store the frame - no rigid frame is actually necessary to use this resin oven. Since the insulation material is flexible and rigid, you're also able to use clips to create a custom malleable shape that suits your needs.


The above photo was taken with my phone's camera in 'night mode' I figured out that this is a great way to determine if there are light leaks in the curing oven, I promptly readjusted my setup, and capped the ends to protect myself from UV rays. Another safety tip before working with UV leds is to apply sunscreen on your hands, arms, neck and face  - even for brief exposures, it is like going into a sun-tanning booth and it's important to protect your skin. (I am particularly sensitive to UV and working with this PPE, I didn't experience any problems or see any symptoms of UV exposure on my skin.)

Later iterations of this project detailed in log posts below considered better concealment strategies - this method uses an upcycled grocery bag, and this method uses a 3D printed frame. 

This project has limitless potential as far as component versatility, scaling, and material consideration - I detail more of this research and analysis in my conclusion log post for this project, but I really believe the best part of this approach to DIY resin curing ovens is that it's hands free and collapsible - meaning it can be stowed away easily or deployed quickly in remote areas.

Thanks again for looking at this project! I'm excited to keep making more resin projects with this lamp!


If you want to see what else I'm up to in my workshop, follow along with me on InstagramTwitter, and YouTube.

Thanks for taking the time to read about this project.

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 167.46 kB - 10/03/2020 at 08:04


Standard Tesselated Geometry - 147.15 kB - 10/03/2020 at 08:04


Standard Tesselated Geometry - 52.23 kB - 10/03/2020 at 08:04


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  • Final thoughts on a collapsible UV resin curing lamp

    audreyobscura10/03/2020 at 07:31 0 comments

    Design goals 

    • portable
    • compact
    • versatility
    • accessibility of parts
    • ease of construction

    Each of the lamps created in this material research process is also completely portable with the help of easy to find 12v and 5v batteries that have been coupled with quick connecting parts.  

    All of the forms explored across this project have been propelled by seeking out mylar covered surfaces to use as as light reflectors in tandem with UV LEDs. Anchoring these properties to each iteration offered scalability of the lamp to various sizes, while also allowing the lamp to remain stow-able - key for working in small or remote spaces. 

    While the prompt for the Field Ready challenge specifically calls for the design of a wand, each of the resin curing lamps created for this project allowed for hands free exposure, and greater UV safety than other traditional UV curing wands. 

    The construction techniques demonstrated in this build would be accessible at any onramp for any maker - skills used in these projects ranged from hand-sewing to 3D-modeling. Also, since the project relies heavily on easy to find prefabricated parts, it feels more like assembling a kit than molding a product from scratch.

    On obsessive material research...

    The fun part of doing material research is finding out how the same materials get used across industries, so once you find a material with the desired properties - like a how this project relied on reflective mylar - one is able to conduct searches across applications to open up a world of ideas. 

    This project could keep iterating and be customized to the needs of any fabricator, while scaling to size and budget needs. I think there are more possibilities with this combo of materials - mylar being so wonderfully reflective it gets applied to so many different kinds of insulating materials and bags - there's a big shiny sandbox of easy to find materials to play with to use as light reflectors. I even had the idea of using spray adhesive to bond a sheet of mylar to a scrap of tyvek to see how that would create an even more thin flexible material - some day!

    ( I also can’t stress enough how important it is to talk to folks outside of your field about what you’re working on - I’ve gotten some of my best design solutions that way!)

    Thinking about Power

    Batteries are awesome! I'm grateful for them every time I'm scrolling Twitter waiting in line for something. The problem with batteries is that as they get used up, you start to get inconsistent voltage which could mean extended curing times - so if possible, if you're envisioning more than 2-3 hours of exposure time with your DIY resin oven, you'll need to buy a big battery that will deliver constant output, or use a wall DC adapter rated for the amount of LEDs you're using. 

    Final thoughts on repurposed grocery bag version:

    • Likely needs greater light density than what I fabricated for faster and more consistent cure times
    • Can fit some really large objects in there - probably perfect for curing parts coming right off of an SLA printer
    • It's made with really easy to find parts with simple to accomplish fabrication techniques
    • It stows away so small - smaller than the original design and smaller than the 3D printed version of the UV lamp. Mega points here. 
    • Total Cost - ~$66

    Final thoughts on 3D printed version:

    • Greater light density and more suited for smaller parts. 
    • v2 needs a light gasket - similar to the way a sheet film triple box or dark room entrance works.
    • Really good for small jewelry projects (see below - made by curing the resin on diffraction grating)
    • Total Cost - ~$46 (not including tools 😬)

    Parts research around making this collapsible UV lamp supercharged:

    • The distributor has a collection of UV LED strips of varying powers and light frequencies that could be implemented to work with specific resin compounds, or higher wattages...
    Read more »

  • Testing the 3D printed frame for a collapsible UV resin lamp.

    audreyobscura10/03/2020 at 07:29 0 comments

    To test the 3D printed framed lamp unit, I 3D printed another little box form I've been producing for another project, that I was previously coating in polyester resin for durability, but have switched to coating with UV resin for the sake of testing the DIY lamp's capabilities. 

    Here's the part getting coated with UV activated resin with the help of a kitchen basting silicone brush:

    The coated part went into the oven for 10 minutes total, but I checked the curing progression at the 4 minute mark, 6 minute mark, and 10 minute mark.

    Material properties observed:

    • If the bulb is too close to the surface of the uncured resin, it cures unevenly and extends exposure time.
    • The middle of the resin coated surface that had about 2-3" of space between the LED lens and the surface cured the fastest.
    • When embedding pieces (dried flowers pictured), layers thicker than 1/4" had uncured resin under the 'shadows' of the embedments and required longer time under the light.

    Check out my last log post to see some conclusions around this style of lamp - thanks for checking out this iteration of the build!

  • Creating a collapsible UV resin oven with 3D printed parts

    audreyobscura10/01/2020 at 19:49 0 comments

    Tools and Materials for this version of a collapsible UV resin oven

    Conceptualizing the design

    In a previous log post, I shared my idea for using the existing exposure unit I built (see original instructions for the PVC frame when I was still using the lamp primarily for cyanotype printing) with custom 3D printed end-caps.

    Checking the Parts

    Once the models came off the printer, I did a quick fitting to make sure the parts would fit.

    This 5v battery pack is super compact and has 2 USB outs - I found this 5V to 9V/12V  step up USB cable to power the LED strip for this version of the collapsible UV lamp.

    Assembling the tube

    Each end cap served a different function - one end cap could support the power pack and LED plumbing, while the other end cap would function as a door for minimal fuss during resin exposure.

    I used a piece of magnet wire to secure the hinge, but it could support a machine screw really easily. I had to grind down the hinge a little bit, but the revised models are attached to the main project page.

    The design was created in Autodesk Fusion 360 and printed on a Prusa printer. Once the parts come off the machine, I measured how long of a piece of foil would be needed, and how many LEDs and would fit in a compact oven - this part is super customizable - have fun with it and scale it to the size that you need! (But you may need a bigger battery if you go big) 

    Collapsible construction and adding UV LED Strips

    This video demonstrates the design and construction of the UV lamp, but not the wiring. For this version, the lights are wired in series, not parallel like the bag lamp. This might result in a voltage drop in a longer length of LED strip, but since this is so small, I didn't detect any dimming. 

    Testing run-time

    Here'a a view of the lamp with the door open, I let it run for 30 minutes and the battery only dropped 15% of it's charge, and none of the components felt hot to the touch.

    A future log post will include testing of this lamp with resin! Thanks for reading - please let me know in the comments if anything could be made clearer and I can make some revisions. 

  • Testing the portable grocery bag turned DIY resin oven

    audreyobscura10/01/2020 at 19:37 0 comments

    To test the soft grocery bag lamp unit, I 3D printed a box form I've been prototyping for another project that I had been coating with polyester resin in previous iterations..

    Here's the part getting coated with UV activated resin with the help of a kitchen basting silicone brush, then going into the curing bag:

    After 10 minutes under the lights, I removed the part from the bag.

    Material properties observed:

    • For the first part coated, the resin cured really evenly over 10 minutes with out the bag being manipulated - this is longer than what the resin packaging indicated, but the layer could also have been too thin. (thin layers take longer to cure - depending on the shelf life of your resin)
    • For the second coated part, I squished the bag so that the top lights that were along the lid of the bag were closer to the resin surface and the resin cured in 4 minutes as indicated on the resin packaging. 
    • This design may need a fan and a carbon filter to help with off-gassing when working with thicker layers of resin. 

    Check out my last log post to see some conclusions around this style of lamp - thanks for checking out this iteration of the build!

  • Creating a UV resin oven from a portable grocery bag

    audreyobscura09/14/2020 at 04:49 0 comments

    Tools and Materials for this version of a collapsible UV resin oven

    • Lined + insulated grocery bag
    • UV LED strips
    • Masking tape
    • 12V Battery pack
    • Leather needle + heavy duty thread
    • Scrap fabric 
    • Soldering iron + solder
    • Heat shrink
    • Jumper wires
    • PCB
    • Hot glue gun + glue sticks

    Creating the power pack

    To modify this insulated grocery bag to be a portable resin oven, it needed a pocket to hold the battery pack and tools.

    I had some heavy weight denim from an old pair of pants that got the chop and cut off a small piece, hand sewing a pocket between the two strap lines and along the base of the bag.

    Using a leather needle helps punch through the weird textile and insulation material with it's razor edges.

    Plumbing the UV LED strips

    Once the power pocket was in place, I prepped the surface of the insulating mylar with a quick alcohol wipe and laid down blue masking tape along the areas that would hold LED strips. 

    I squished the LED strips into the tape deeply to make sure the backing adhesive was properly stuck in place.

    I also made sure that once the LED strips were secured on the the tape with the adhesive backing that came on the LED strip that the bag would still be completely collapsible. 

    With the support of a rubber grommet, I made a small hole in the pocket part that had been sewn in to the bag, and threaded through an M-sized barrel power connector. 

    The LED UV light strips are wired in parallel. I cheated slightly and used quick-connecting wire junctions to route the wires to two PCB clusters in the front corners of the bag. Forthcoming video will have more examples of the wiring. 

    Each corner has a loop stitch to hold the wires in place to prevent them from getting bend or moved during handling or use. 

    Sealing circuits

    A long time ago, when I was working with Amanda Ghassaei at Instructables, I watched Amanda slather a circuit in hot glue to prevent it from shorting, but still be more accessible than say, epoxy, in case you need to diagnose a problem.  

    The top cluster is the ground line of power, and the bottom cluster is 12V+

    Finished Collapsible UV resin Oven from a Grocery Bag

    Here's the finihsed grocery bag turned resin oven on my bench top!

    The battery pack is in the front pocket, and it has almost zero light leaks, so excited for how well this came out, and how self-contained it is. 

    Here's some photos of the bag giving off sinister energy with the lights off in the workshop.

    A future log post will include testing of this lamp with resin! Thanks for reading - please let me know in the comments if anything could be made clearer and I can make some revisions. 

  • Exploring options for reproducibility

    audreyobscura09/14/2020 at 04:35 2 comments

    Looking for additional 'off-the-shelf' parts to modify

    I took some time to share the Hackaday Prize design goals of portability and accessibility with some of my creative friends and showed them what I had already made, and one of them showed me a pre-manufactured grocery bag that already had reflective mylar lining.  These bags are commonly used to deliver groceries and available in so many sizes, and are very cheap and durable.

    Once I finally got my hands on one of these grocery bags I came up with a plan to plumb it with UV LED strip lights like the original lamp I had built and create a pocket for the battery pack and some pockets for commonly used resin working tools.

    Exploring a 3D printed option 

    While the bag idea is successful because it uses so many readily available parts, I also wanted to create something that could be more scalable to the needs of smaller precision parts. In future log posts I'll be sharing a design for a smaller 3d printed USB powered UV curing lamp using the same mylar backed air foil material as the original design had to show the versatility of these components. 

  • Exploring more stow-away forms

    audreyobscura08/29/2020 at 00:04 0 comments

    A few weeks after posting initial log posts on this project, as well as exploring more use cases for UV resin in my prototyping practice, I'm  looking to origami and packaging design to potentially create more collapsible shapes for this UV LED lamp.

    The above gif demonstrates turning 3 upcycled reused insulated grocery bags into a box like shape.

    I belong to a CSA delivery in the summer, and the dairy and eggs get delivered in these bags, I keep them around and reuse them for packaging or for running other food to people, but they have all the same properties as the original bubble foil material I used in my first UV lamp

    I began by cutting off the sides and turning the bubble foil into 16" squares

    Using stainless steel foil tape, a strong, flexible, rigid tape, I bound all of the edges together to create a classic origami box shape. Each edge of the box shape had a foil tab that could be used to clamp the sides together with metal binder clips.
    Here's the box shape flat on the studio floor, it's hard to see but each edge is bound with stainless steel foil tape.

    The foil tape tabs are folded over and clamped tight. 

    The internal volume of the shape after the edges are folded over and pinched is slightly more than a 14" cube.

  • Pricing + Portability

    audreyobscura08/10/2020 at 19:32 0 comments

    I have been doing further product research to see how this UV curing lamp could become more portable and work with easy to find off-the-shelf components that require minimal tools or easy-to-execute fabrication. 

    Pricing for 24"x24" flexible, portable UV curing lamp

    • Bubble foil backing - $10.50 (this is enough for multiple UV curing ovens and reflecting surfaces)
    • UV LED Strip - $13.00
    • 12V 5A power supply -  $12.00
    • PCB - $1
    • Foam core boards/light barrier $6 (optional - even cardboard could work!)
    • Binder clips or A-clamps - $3

    Total - $45.50


    Optional portable battery pack to make this resin oven more field-ready brings the cost to ~$80

    The portable battery pack linked above is ready to be paired with the flexible UV lamp design right out of the box. The battery pack is listed at supporting a 6000maH charge - which would equal 72wH. Since this UV lamp uses 24W, you could get 3 hours of UV exposures with this particular battery pack. 

  • Resin Working Tips

    audreyobscura08/04/2020 at 08:21 0 comments

    I don't have access to a resin 3D printer that uses UV to create models, but I do undersand that models made with this kind of technology to require some post-processing in a UV curing oven. This collapsible + flexible UV lamp emits a ~385nm wavelength that makes it ideal for curing UV resin and post-processing resin 3D prints.

    The following details my experience in applying the resin and establishing a workflow for curing + cleaning.

    Working with the resin

    I have found that it is best to work the resin with silicone tools and place them under the curing lamp between uses. The resin hardens on the silicone tools and can be easily pulled off and quickly cleaned with isopropyl alcohol before using with liquid resin again. All of these tools can be found at a kitchen store, but if needed, you can find smaller silicone brushes at art supply stores. 

    Upside down silicone cup cake liners as bench dogs to support the tool under the lamp to harden the resin for cleanup. 

  • Small scale testing for UV resin curing

    audreyobscura07/21/2020 at 18:08 0 comments

    I recently had some really excellent feedback on this project and was prompted to create some resin curing experiments.

    Here's a short vid explaining how I tested this $50 DIY UV lamp for resin curing, and I hope to continue to share updates

    Things that could effect exposure time:

    • Light density: how close the LEDs are arranged next to each-other and number of lights used.
    • Projection distance: see inverse square law for how light is exponentially darker as you move away from the source
      • The strip is this 12V 24W Black Light Strip that emits light at 395~400nm wavelength according to the product description. In looking through the reviews, an intrepid customer shared their results of what happened when they took a spectrometer to the LED strip: "The spectrogram shows this is truly a UV-A light with a maximum at 385 nm"
    • Direction of the light: I think if you flexed the light it could help diffuse the light in multiple directions, which could improve cure times and overall hardness throughout your pour.

    The second test completed replaces the rigid PVC frame with simple A-clamps and more bubble-foil material. I shaped the lamp into a loaf like shape, and secured it with clamps to an additional small piece of bubble foil.

    Since the light was being emitted and reflected from multiple directions this time, I did notice that the resin was a bit stiffer and didn't require a wipe-down with IPA to chemically remove stickiness.

    Here's a video demonstrating using the lamp in this flexed configuration with diffraction grating.

View all 10 project logs

  • 1
    Tools and Materials

    Tools and Materials

    Here is everything I used



    Notes on materials:

    A lot of this I had lying around. This may not be the most practical solution, but I made it practical for what I had. If you want to check out why I had so much PVC - check out my free class on PVC construction!

    I used the foil insulation as a backer for the LED strips. I know this material could be rigid, but also collapsible. If you can think of another way to back this project with a different material that you have lying around, by all means, use that. I will say, the foil insulation is surprisingly tough, and stands up great to manipulation and rolling!

  • 2
    Cutting, Spacing, and Marking the Backer

    Given the length of the roll of LEDs, and the width of the roll of insulation, I decided to cut 9x 21" strips of UV LEDs. I did some math and figured out I would want to space them about 2.75" apart - I was concerned if they were any further and it may begin to affect the quality of the light being emitted.

    From experience, I know that the LED strips WILL NOT stick well to the mylar sides of the foil insulation, but the adhesive backing on the strip does stick to masking tape.

    I measured out the distance I could span with the 9 strips, and made some marks as to where I wanted the tape backer strips to be placed.

    I ended up with a pattern for a 21"x21" square of LED strips made.

  • 3
    Cutting and Placing the LED Strips

    Cutting apart the LEDs is SUPER EASY. The roll has designated spots to cut every 3 LEDs. Where you slice the LEDs also becomes the soldering junction.

    Next up was removing the strip for the LEDs adhesive backer and pressing the strips into the lamp's surface.

    I really squished the strips down quite a few times to make sure that the tape and the LED strips were completely bonding and I wouldn't have to worry about strips slumping off while I was trying to use the lamp.

View all 8 instructions

Enjoy this project?



John Opsahl wrote 11/10/2020 at 05:21 point

I thought you had the best pictures, gifs, and video of any other Hackaday Prize entry this year. I can tell you put a lot of work into this project. Please keep me in mind if you need a mechanical engineer contributor on any of your future projects.

  Are you sure? yes | no

audreyobscura wrote 11/10/2020 at 06:43 point

Holy smokes! That is an incredibly kind thing to say about this project! Thank you so much for the compliment. 

It was super fun to push my making practice for this build. I don't think I would have explored UV resin without the nudge from Hackaday's contest - and as you can tell, I love making fun gifs that help make the build more accessible.

It was so cool to see all of the entries for the Hackaday Prize and I was super honored to even be a finalist.  Congrats on your win! I've been your fan from when I was still a community manager at Instructables and you published the Skittle sorting machine! 

Holler if you ever need a visual storyteller (or even documentation tips) for any of your builds, and I'll keep you in mind if I ever start to make big moving stuff! 

  Are you sure? yes | no

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