News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Lehmans

Levin Furniture

Greater Akron Chamber


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Economy and Business




Exploradio: Plug-in paint
A Medina start-up's unique electro-luminescent paint process puts a glow on custom hot-rods, cycles, and guitars
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
A guitar body glows with electro-luminescent paint developed by Darkside Scientific in Medina. The start-up is developing a paint process that can be applied to any solid surface. They'll roll out their light-up paint process for hot-rods and custom motorcycles this spring.
Courtesy of Darkside Scientific
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

A Northeast Ohio startup has developed a plug-in paint that can light up any solid surface.  It’s being tested now for the growing custom hot-rod and motorcycle market.

In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair looks at how a local inventor’s determination brought his dream of electro-luminescent paint to light.

Exploradio: Plug-in paint

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:04)


(Click image for larger view.)

Applying the top electrode

Custom paint artist Jason Gray sprays the final coat on a test panel inside the downtown Medina garage/slash/ laboratory of Darkside Scientific.

Next, Gray waves a heat gun over the wet paint as inventor Andy Zsinko describes the final step. 

He says as the clear electrode sets, it begins to conduct electricity, the field develops between the two electrodes and … "Let there be light.’”

And the small plastic panel begins to glow with a warm light. 

Zsinko hopes to soon license his electroluminescent paint process to custom shops around the country. 

He says one of the foundational ideas behind the technology was, "to make it simple enough to apply  that a body-shop rat could apply it.”

Gray says though he might not like the term 'shop rat', he and his co-owner at Sleeper Customs in Euclid don’t mind being the first shop to test Zsinko’s new glowing paint.

A new custom paint process

Gray recognizes that there's enormous potential in custom paint for higher end hot rods and muscle cars, "I think it’s going take off.”

Gray and the team at Darkside envision flames painted on hot rods that glow red and pulse in animated sequence down the side of the car.

He says pulsing paint could be controlled by an app, "where you can plug it into your iPhone or Droid and control your paint job.”

Darkside founder Andy Zsinko says the idea for electroluminescent paint came to him three years ago, born out of disappointment in a friend’s challenge to make a Yamaha glow.

Zsinko says inspiration struck while drowning his sorrows on his friend’s porch, where he developed the base concept, "in about 15 minutes over the second six-pack.”

He lays out the principles behind his invention on the workshop drawing board.

How to make electroluminescent paint in four not so easy steps

According to Zsinko, an electroluminescent device is actually a capacitor with four layers.  On the solid surface there's a back-plane, then a dielectric layer, a Phosphor layer that contains the glowing material, and finally a top electrode, which we saw being applied earlier.  Generally, a sealing coat is then applied to protect the ensemble.

Two tiny wires with a plug are soldered in to complete the circuit. 

It took more than a year of trial and error, and presumably plenty of beer, until Zsinko had a workable, water-based, flexible, electroluminescent paint product.

He says, “once I honed in on what I called the secret sauce, the development went pretty rapidly from there.”  It's a patent-pending process that he continues to hone through experimentation.

From flames to glowing chrome

Zsinkio holds up a shiny chrome fender from a mini-bike and asks, “Have you ever seen chrome glow before?”

Darkside business manager Shawn Mastrian says glowing chrome, once the kinks are worked out, could point the way to a lucrative market beyond custom-car enthusiasts. 

He says from wood paneling to glowing cup holders, today’s car designers are paying a lot of attention on interior mood lighting.  He says any surface inside a vehicle can have, "a premium look and feel to it, which has manufacturers all throughout the supply chain fairly excited about the possibilities there.”

Scattered about the garage are glowing prototypes --  a light-up electric guitar, lighted chopper gas tanks and an eerily glowing plug-in bike helmet.

But Mastrian says the target for now is to tap into the nearly $40 million people spend each year on custom hot-rod paint jobs. 

Darkside will lay out its patent-pending product this spring in Daytona by displaying the world’s first fully illuminated motorcycle.

Local venture partner Jumpstart is behind the company.  This summer it awarded Darkside Scientific a seed grant plus ongoing advice on how to build a business beyond the beer-fueled inspiration and development stage into the glowing prospect of profitability.
Listener Comments:

I am interested in a building application with painted ceilings rather than lighting.
How far has this progressed.would be interested in new zealand rights
graeme


Posted by: graeme sissons (new zealand) on April 28, 2013 4:04AM
might be fun for an exhibit treatment


Posted by: mitch on December 17, 2012 9:12AM
Good work


Posted by: Anonymous on December 17, 2012 3:12AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Support for Exploradio
provided by:








Stories with Recent Comments

The Black Keys guitar tech's moment in the spotlight
Nice job, Vivian. It's always nice to hear about the unsung heroes getting their due! Thank you, Chuck Johnston (Full disclosure - I'm a friend of the Carney fa...

Akron's Tuba Christmas: A resounding blast of holiday spirit
Nice piece, Vivian! Looking forward to hearing you move from flute to tuba on Saturday. Love hearing your interviews and this seemed extra special since I kno...

Cleveland Hugo Boss workers are fighting for their jobs again
Bro. Ginard; I support your effert to keep your jobs, I understand all about concesions, I was a Union offical from 1965 until 1991 and the company th...

Asian Carp control could benefit from bill passed by House, heading to the Senate
help me fight the battle against invasive carp by method of harvest

Ohio's Portman supports lifting limits on party political money
If Portman was legitimately concerned about outside groups influence on elections he would have supported the DISCLOSE act. Instead he helped block it being bro...

Study shows trade with China has cost more than 3 million U.S. jobs
I disagree with James Dorn! If we don't change the playing field and make it a fair competition the whole US industry will be weaker and weaker. Eventually all ...

Video of Cleveland police shooting a 12-year-old is critical to the investigation
While I think this is a very unfortunate, the fact is that police are trained to aim for the large mass of a human to stop them. If they aimed for the leg it w...

Wayne County teacher says he was fired for criticizing dairy
This is bull crap Smithville Schools have changed ever since the new school I'm so ashamed at the district I wish I could pick my house up and move it to anothe...

White Castle is closing its five Northeast Ohio restaurants
you should open a white castle in logan ohio.i'm pretty sure you disappointed,thank you...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University