How is a Luminglas panel made? How does it work?
Luminglas is made using a patented process (Patent #
5,383,295) by Strattman Design.Three glass plates are
laminated together in a computer-controlled kiln. The
middle layer of the glass sandwich has a portion of
its center removed (like a donut hole) and the resulting
space is filled with glass beads (usually about the
size of a BB) coated with a chemical called a phosphor.
The phosphor is what provides the color for the gas discharge. After
fusing the plates together, an electrode is sealed onto
the back and the air is evacuated and a fill gas is
put in. The gas, when energized with a high voltage,
high-frequency power supply, gives off visible and invisible
energy. The invisible ultraviolet light activates the
chemical phosphors on the beads. The electric filaments
of light move between the beads randomly. They move
around because the power supply is turning on and off
very fast, effectively restarting and resetting the
pattern each time. The filaments react to an external
human touch because when one touches the panel, the
body becomes an electrical ground for the filament to
Green Luminglas featured
in The Borg
What sizes and shapes of Luminglas are available?
the shape can be drawn it probably can be made. Shapes
like lightning bolts, letters, outlines of logos, have
been made. The size limitation is only the size that
is reasonable to handle and that can be fused in existing
production furnaces. The larger the shape, the longer
it takes to heat up and cool the glass. Shipping becomes
very expensive beyond certain sizes, as does the tooling
used to make large plates. Also, as plates get bigger
they are harder to keep from warping at the 1400F temperatures
inside the furnace. For really large areas, surfaces
can be tiled together with smaller pieces. At the San
Francisco Airport, the United terminal has a large wall
made up of small square panels. The pieces can be cut
to any shape that would fit together. The sandwiched
sheets of glass are typically flat, but can be intentionally
curved for desired effects. Shapes such as domes, curved
panels, bowls, etc. can be made, let your creativity
go wild (see photos in our Virtual
1. Hows does a Plasma Globe work?
A plasma device, whether it is a tube or a globe, is
a sealed glass piece that has what we call a "plasma"
gas mixture inside. The term "plasma" is technically
any ionized gas in a discharge tube (fluorescent lights,
neon tubes, etc.) In this case it refers to a specific
lighting effect. The gas mixture is primarily made up
of inert gases such as neon, krypton, xenon, argon,
helium, etc. A "dopant gas" mix is mixed
in in very small amount to form the thin filaments of
light. The dopants gas also helps determine the color
of the discharge. These dopants are carefully formulated,
without them the globe (or tube) would just glow uniformly
and have no filaments. The gas lights up with a high-voltage,
high-frequency power supply that essentially broadcasts
a field of energy causing the gases to light up,
much like the Northern Lights. Nicholai Tesla
worked with these devices and published an article describing
how to make them as early as 1910. Since a high-voltage
field exists around a plasma device, no conductive materials
should be used to build the base. The power supply also
needs to be located close to the globe. The wiring also
needs to be kept away from any other conductive surface.
No insulation is sufficient to insulate the wiring from
a conductive surface.
people ask how long a plasma device will last. They
do not just stop working. Over the years the fingers
of light will get wider and less bright. This happens
gradually. At any time the device can be repumped, depending
on how the viewer feels about how the fingers look and
how long it has been run (and also how much power is
used to run it).
How do they work?
A crackle tube works similarly to a Luminglas device.
The beads, coatings, the gases, and the power supply
are the same. The shape is the only thing that is different.
Virtually any blown glass shape can be made to light
up as long as it can withstand being put under vacuum.
(This is an important safety concern: Never put a glass
shape under vacuum unless you know what you're doing!
Implosions can easily happen and are extremely dangerous!)
Large crackle tubes (2" or larger) are made
with double walls. This cuts down the weight and forces
the discharge near the outer glass wall. Double walled
vessels of this type require careful designing to prevent
the glass from cracking due to strains in the glass
between the inside and outside walls.
What are lightning tubes & how do they work?
A lightning tube is similar to a large-diameter neon
tube but the gas fill and power supply are different.
The gas used is at a high pressure and the power supply
often has been slightly modified to accentuate the movement.
High-pressure gases are used because the higher the
pressure, the thinner and brighter the resulting filament
of light. The higher the pressure, however, the higher
the voltage needed to run the tube and the higher the
temperature of the filaments of light. Care must be
taken to use high-temperature, thoroughly stress-relieved
glass when building a lightning tube. The white lightning
can be made to move slowly or very fast by adjusting
the fill gas.