Like a good neighbor, GoEngineer is there.

by Brian Childree

Let there be light

Like most things, it began with good intentions.  I had just finished putting up the fence around my new shed and was feeling pretty good about myself when my wife dropped a hint.  “It’s really dark by the shed at night.”  Clearly my project wasn’t as complete as I thought.

After a brief search I found my solution, motion-activated outdoor LED lights.  I picked up a pair and got them installed right away.  They put out a ton of light and my wife is happy.  Job done, right?  Not quite.

Nuisance to the Neighbor

The next week I run into my neighbor working in the front yard.  We get to talking and he mentions my new shed.  I’m not one to shy away from praise, so I happily continued on to tell him all about it.  He nods politely and then mentions my new lights.

“Oh yeah, I picked those up last week.  They throw a ton of light, they’re great!” I tell him.  That’s when he stops nodding politely and tells me how the light shines directly into their bedroom and at night, every time my dog sets off the motion sensor he knows about it.  Embarrassed, I apologize and let him know I will adjust the lights away from his window.

I adjusted the lights that afternoon hoping that they were aimed far enough away.  Evening came and I went outside to see how it looked.

Well, it wasn’t shining directly into his window now but it was pretty bad.  I didn’t want to take the light down but I also didn’t want to start a war with my neighbor. As usual, I turned to SOLIDWORKS and Stratasys for a solution.

Reverse Engineering

Engineering my own solution to the problem is a must. I started by reverse engineering the light itself.  I could have used a Creaform 3D Scanner which would have made this process very quick and easy but I decided, for my own practice, I would do it the ol’ fashion way with a set of calipers.

Once I had my light modeled I needed to design a shroud that would mount to the fixture but not block the light on my driveway.  I decided on a ½ sleeve design that used the existing hardware locations on the fixture.  I also integrated a mesh area that would allow heat to escape from the light fixture but would not affect the shield’s performance.

Using my reverse engineered light fixture I created a SOLIDWORKS assembly to test fit and perform Interference Detection to make sure everything would fit together as I planned.

Manufacturing & Assembly

Next, it was time to transfer my design into Stratasys Insight software to prepare it for printing. I decided to use the Fortus 380mc to print the shield in Nylon.  This material is tough and deals with heat well.  Once printed I painted the shield white to match the light fixture.

Installation and Testing

With the shroud on the fixture, I excitedly mounted the fixture back to the shed and waited for nightfall to see the results.



DIY Success

The end result was a huge success.  The lighting still covered my entire driveway but they no longer cast light pollution on my neighbor’s house.  I’m happy, my neighbor is happy, and most importantly my wife is happy.  All in a day’s work, thanks to SOLIDWORKS and Stratasys.


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