Make your own UV-LED exposure unit

Finished exposure unit

The Idea

I have had a lot of interest expressed by workshop participants in the UV-LED exposure units I have built over the last two years. These exposure boxes are designs that I have had fabricated in heavy-duty 3/32” 5052 aluminum by eMachineShop in New Jersey.

The cost of having these aluminum enclosures fabricated goes down as more units are added to an order. The single box cost typically has about 50% of the total cost in set-up charges. If more boxes are ordered at one time, set-up charges can be spread out over more units. Thus, it is more economical to place an order for 5 boxes than for a single box.

I thought that it might be fun to have a weekend workshop devoted to building several of these UV exposure units where participants could just show up with some needle-nosed pliers and a screwdriver and walk away with a super modern sleek exposure unit.

The Problem

However, the timing of this workshop was poor for several people who otherwise would have taken it, and, as a further complication, the UV-LED light strips I intended to use (the high-output versions from Inkjet Mall) are now on back order.

The New Idea

The net effect of all of this is that I have decided to pull the workshop from the Mountain Intaglio pages and instead offer the option of purchasing the box and timer module in combination with written and video instructions on how to assemble them.

  • This approach will provide a few advantages:
  • Will allow people to use other brands of UV-LED strips if desired
  • The power supply can be sized based on the UV-LED strip type and spacing
  • No need to travel
  • Will still result in a clean lightweight aluminum-shelled exposure unit with very stable and predictable UV light output
  • Other components can be sourced locally if desired, or ordered from the parts list I have assembled on Amazon

As I mentioned above, I will provide with the boxes a complete set of instructions on how to wire them together. It is not complicated, and can be easily accomplished by anyone reasonably adept with using a few hand tools, namely a wire-stripper, screwdriver and pliers. While soldering is not required, I do recommend soldering several of the pigtail connections that are needed just to ensure the durability of the connection.

UV-Lightbox 2.0

To get the cost benefits of bulk ordering, there must be a deadline for ordering the aluminum enclosures. In order to give everyone plenty of time to make a decision, I have arbitrarily picked September 15, 2022 as the deadline. The boxes will require about two weeks to fabricate and ship to my location. I will do the basic assembly of the box, which involves riveting on the rear panel and riveting on the hinge that attaches the door. What you will receive is a blank box with a Borg relay timer, ready for you to attach the remaining components.

Anyone interested in this project I would ask to respond to this email with a few responses.

One - if you are certain you want to participate in this order, please state that. If you are tentative, please also indicate that in a response so I can gauge both the interest and potential interest level.

Two - please provide any feedback you think is relevant : right now, I plan on creating Amazon shopping lists for all the items needed for assembling the UV-LED boxes. The reason I do this is that it allows everyone to take advantage of Amazon Prime ‘free’ shipping and the parts will go directly to you. If this approach seems problematic, I would appreciate your feedback and suggestions for alternatives.

The new box with 11mm strip spacing using the Inkjet Mall Type 2 strips will expose a pt/pd print in about 4 minutes. If you choose to upsize the transformer and go with a denser strip spacing the exposure times will of course go down. I am attaching pictures of the finished prototype so you can get a sense if this is something you might want to take on. The total size is 20”x30”. The illumination area is 18” x 24”. The weight is 14.5 pounds.

These will be durable long-lasting exposure units that are professional-looking and durable. You also will have the benefit of your total understanding of their operation - after all, you will be building it! They are not cheap, but will be far cheaper than buying a ready-to-go unit of similar quality. This will come at the expense of a day or two of your time in putting it together. Please let me know if you are interested, and if we have enough people, we will get the process going.