We love Ping Pong at Studiored, since starting here nearly 4 years ago I’ve probably played close to 1000 games. We also love to play around with different processes to make things, so it was only natural when I found a scrap piece of ¼” acrylic out in the shop that we should design and build an edge-lit LED ping pong paddle (duh).
Using a laser cutter to make edge lit acrylic signs has been done for ages to great effect, the smooth cut edge allows easy entry of light, and good internal reflection, while the rough etched surfaces do a great job scattering that light. Making this part was as simple as grabbing an outline of a PingPong paddle online, pulling it into CAD and overlaying our logo (check out this video for more info on how we import and scale images).
In a typical sign there’s plenty of room in the base or mount to hide the LED’s and the wires can be routed cleanly, usually to an external power supply. It’s not that easy with a small handheld product like a pingpong paddle, it’d be pretty straightforward to use a small LIPO cell and some SMD LED’s, but we wanted to make something with the parts we had laying around, and no charging port, so we decided to use simple replaceable AAA’s. Being a product development company we have hundreds of battery contacts sitting around and it was a fun challenge fitting typical battery clip retention methods into the 2D constraints of a laser cut part. We ended up creating 3d printed handles to provide stops for the clips, but everything else was secured by the laser cut acrylic, which is nice as it’s stronger than some of our SLA print materials.
The end result is a lot of fun, it’s a bit heavier than your typical paddle but the size is spot on, the two color toggle switch means we can have starwars-esque nighttime matches (once we get around to making two of them). We planned on putting transparent grip tape on the surfaces to aide grip, but for messing around in the dark it works great without any.