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Beyond Glow in the Dark: Light-Up Paint

Friday, March 28, 2014

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When it comes to illumination, who would know more than the Dark Side?

That’s Darkside Scientific LLC, founded by Andy Zsinko, a longtime aftermarket painter who has gone glow-in-the-dark paint one better: His new coating system literally lights up, allowing users to “paint with light.”

Images, video: Darkside Scientific LLC

Andy Zsinko, a longtime aftermarket painter, was inspired to invent LumiLor after a glow-in-the-dark paint job on a friend's motorcycle faded quickly.

The coating system, called LumiLor, actually emits light in response to an electrical field while remaining cool to the touch.

Darkside, based in Medina, OH, calls LumiLor "the world's first and only sprayable electroluminescent (EL) coating system" and says the product is safe, long-lasting and durable.

How It Works

Electroluminescence enables a material to emit light in response to an electrical field.

"At the sub-atomic level, the process behind electroluminescence is radiative recombination, also known as spontaneous emission," the company says on its site.

"In radiative recombination, phosphorescent substances emit photons (light particles) in response to alternating electrical current."

A painter trains in applying the LumiLor system. The manufacturer trains and certifies applicators.

The illumination life depends on the color selected and the frequency and voltage at which it is driven, according to Darkside. The life of the coating is determined by total hours, not be the number of times charged and discharged.


In essence, any surface that can fit in a paint boothcan become an EL lamp when coated in LumiLor and energized with an electrical current, the company says. The coating lights up "with the flick of a switch," according to Darkside.

The flexible coating can be used on metals (which are primed first, to insulate them electrically), thermoplastics, wood, glass and carbon firber. As an HVLP-sprayable coating, it can be applied to compound curves and complex shapes, the company says. The coating can also be topcoated, dipcoated and chromed, the manufacturer says.

Darkside trains and certifies its own applicators for the system.

Though born and bred for motorcycle and helmet applications, LumiLor could be used in the future for OEM and aftermarket military, industrial safety, aviation and aerospace applications, the company says.


Developed as a motorcycle coating, LumiLor can be topcoated, dipped or chromed. The manufacturer foresees safety, industrial and military applications.

The product comes in five standard "LumiColors" as well as custom colors and can even be wired for effects like strobing and sound, according to Darkside.

'A Magnificent Failure'

According to the company's website, Zsinko hatched LumiLor one night in 2009 after a project he calls "a magnificent failure."

He had just finished a glorious, painstaking, glow-in-the-dark paint job on a Yamaha Heritage Classic when it faded almost immediately.

Several hours later, as his website tells it, Zsinko had the basic structure of LumiLor, which he calls "the world's first and only sprayable electroluminescent (EL) coating system."

“The principles of electroluminescence are fairly basic,” Zsinko said.

“The trick to LumiLor was to turn a highly controlled process (that used to make EL panels) into something a professional painter can apply with current air gun technology. With a little research into advanced materials, some time perfecting techniques, and appropriate amounts of serendipity, I was able to unlock the secret.”

Perfecting and patenting the formula and manufacturing process took several more years, and Darkside rolled out the product in December. (The company is named for the Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon album cover that was used in an early LumiLor test.)

A second LumiLor Lab opened in the UK in February.


Tagged categories: Automotive coatings; Coating chemistry; Coatings manufacturers; Coatings technology; Color; Design; Health and safety; OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers); Painters; Specialty Coatings

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