Method and Apparatus for bending LED Light Guides

Field of the Invention

The present invention is related to methods and apparatuses for bending light guides for guiding light emitted by light emitting diodes (LEDs).

Description of the Related Art

Glass tubes filled with neon gas have been used to provide decorative, colored lights. For example, U.S. Patent No. 5,001,613 describes a housing to protect neon tube lights. This is necessary because the glass tubes are fragile. Further, neon tube lights are difficult and costly to manufacture. Finally, neon tube lights consume a significant amount of power, and thus are costly to keep lit. Accordingly, alternative decorative lighting devices were desired.

The invention of LEDs allowed a low cost alternative to neon lighting. With regard to the power consumed, LEDs consume only 10% or less of a comparable neon tube light. However, the light from an LED needs to pass through a light guide to provide the same effect as a neon tube. To provide the same versatility as neon tubes, the light guides need to be able to be formed into a plurality of shapes, especially lettering. Conventionally, this has been done by heating a plastic light guide with a heat gun and then bending the hot light guide. However, this process is time consuming, difficult to repeat, and cannot provide light guides with a radius of curvature comparable to neon tubes.

Summary of the Invention

The present invention broadly comprises a method and apparatuses for bending LED light guides. In one embodiment, an article of manufacture includes a jig including a flat surface with a curved groove therein; a light guide located within the curved groove, the light guide including an internal groove; and a bend-aid located in the internal groove of the light guide.

Kieffer|Starlite Contour LED Guide Patent

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