Cutting EL Tape, EL Panels or even ELastoLite® is often a confusing and stressful process, made all the more so by the lack of reliable information available on the subject. So we are putting together the Ultimate EL Tape cutting guide with everything we know about the subject through our experience with the product. For a step by step video, click see our new video below!
First, there are three different types of panels we work with: Parallel, Split, And EL Shapes. The difference between these technologies are where the bus bar/scribe line is located. The bus bar/scribe line is what carries the frequency that excites the phosphor through the Panel or tape. It comes through the lead wires, into the panel, and then through the bus bar/scribe line. So when cutting any of these three technologies, you want to preserve as much of the bus bar/scribe line as possible, or else portions of your panel can turn out dimmer or unlit altogether. With all three of these technologies, you need to make sure you reseal the panel using clear scotch tape or glue, in order to keep water, dust, and debris out of your panel. Failure to do so will result in dark spots, debris in the panel, and possibly shocking which is quite unpleasant.
With Parallel EL Panels, the Bus bar completely surrounds the panel on the outside edge. Cutting parallel panels is always risky, because you will end up removing a very large portion of the bus bar regardless of how you cut it. If you are going to cut a parallel panel, your design should be as small as possible while preserving as much of the bus bar on the edge as possible.
With Split EL Panels, the scribe line runs directly through the center of the panel. So you can trim as much off the edges as you want, so long as you preserve the scribe line in the center. When you cut the scribe line, your light will stop at that point unless another connection is made.
With our brand new EL Shapes Collection, it is combination of these two technologies! You get the best of both worlds with a bus bar surrounding the panel, a scribe line running through the center, and rectangular scribe lines surrounding throughout. Your panel can be cut to nearly any shape imaginable without affecting the light, you should just try and preserve as many of the scribe lines as possible, because these are what carry the frequency through your panel, and the frequency is what excites the phosphor causing it to light up. By preserving the most of amount of scribe line as possible, ensures an even frequency throughout your panel, which also gives you an even light and best longevity out of your panel.
If cutting ELastoLite®, use extreme caution. Because ELastoLite® is waterproof, machine washable and dryable, if you cut it, there is a very good chance it will NO LONGER have these properties. Avoid cutting at all costs. Can you cut it? Yes. Do we recommend it? No. Unlike typical EL Panels and EL Tape, there are actually 22 layers hidden inside which make this very difficult to cut and connect properly. Conversely if you only plan on cutting, it will no longer be waterproof.
Creating fantastic light shapes has never been easier! Cut with confidence and follow this guide, and remember, after cutting SEAL YOUR PANELS!