There have been some excellent examples of Pop-up Light-up cards circulating on the internet.
One of the biggest challenges is cutting out interesting pop ups like the garage in the fathers day card. To do this requires skill, patience and an exacto knife. Three things that are not typically brought by students to a project. To help get around this, I have found the a vinyl cutter a excellent tool. Using the Silhouette Cameo cutter and it’s software, students can easily design or adapt line drawings to create precisely cut cards. Once designed, the Cameo can cut a complicated card in only a minute or two. Adding the LED lighting is also quite simple using only copper tape, surface mount LED’s and a coin battery. While many people use solder to connect the LEDs, it is easy enough to use a two layer copper tape approach to securely connect the LEDs in the circuit.
I like the Adafruit sequin LEDs since they sit flat on the paper, include a 100 ohm resistor to keep the current flow low and the LEDs cooler, and they have the terminals clearly marked. Though there are much cheaper versions on Digikey.
Copper tape is easy to find. Adafruit has a great sample, but Amazon has cheaper options.
Any 3V coin battery will do. Since the cards will not remain on that long, I chose a smaller slimmer battery.
You can grab this at any office supply or craft store.
This will allow young students to design amazing cards and learn computer aided design skills.
Introducing the Cameo Cutter
Before you get started using the Cameo, you should take a look at these introductory videos:
Design and Cut
Importing your designs
Tracing your designs
Cutting the Card
So with some basic Silhouette training, you are ready to design a pop-up. For my example, I will look at a design from a website called Popupology.co.uk. I selected the New York City Skyline cut out, and imported it into Silhouette Designer, and expanded it to fill the whole page. This image is great because it will already score the folds.
I had the program trace and outline everything. Adjust the Scale of the lines down from 10 to 4 for cleaner cuts.
I then saved the file as “Skyline Front”. I then deleted the newly created trace, and retraced just the outer edge and saved this as “Skyline Back”.
Then it was easy to just cut out each of these files using the cameo.
I use a spatula to help the cutouts from the adhesive cutting board. This keeps the pages from curling.
Once you remove any stray bits, you should get a nicely cut card.
Then take time and carefully fold it into pop-up form.
Do the same steps for cutting the back of the card.
To plan out my LED placement, I put the from card over the back and use a pencil to mark where I want my LEDs.
I then draw the lines to run the copper tape. You must make sure to mark the line on the left as + and the other as -. This will be important when you place the LEDs.
First put down a bottom piece of tape along each line. Then lay the LEDs with the + on the + line and the – on the -. To secure them, add another piece of tape on top of each side of the led and press down on each to make sure it has a good connection.
Because the battery has to have contact on both sides, I add a piece of copper to the underside of the top sheet that lines up to the one underneath.
I place one on top of the other and see if it works. Make sure to press the top to the bottom to make sure they are connected. DO NOT GLUE IT TOGETHER YET!
Test your circuit. If it works, it should light up beautifully!
- Flip the battery over to see if they light up. LEDs only work when current runs in one direction. Rotate any LEDs that do no light up when the battery is + side down.
- If they do not light up still, make sure the copper tape on the top lines up with the bottom and makes solid contact. To ensure this, make a loop of copper tape with the adhesive on the outside and attach it to make contact with the copper tape on the bottom and top pieces.
Once everything is working, glue the top to the bottom making sure no glue gets on the copper tape.
Congrats! You now have an epic Pop-up card!