Make: Projects – Glass Bead Projection Screen

Craft & Design Furniture & Lighting Home Science
Make: Projects – Glass Bead Projection Screen

Here’s a method for applying a high-gain optical projection surface made from common, inexpensive materials—specifically, flat white interior latex paint and glass sandblasting media. This project began as a series of experiments to produce a DIY “screen paint” by directly mixing these two ingredients, which didn’t actually work, but did lead to the serendipitous discovery of this process.

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163 thoughts on “Make: Projects – Glass Bead Projection Screen

  1. Christian Restifo says:

    It’d be interesting to see this done with the glass beads they use for road paint. Those are specifically made to be clear spheres that are sunk part way into the paint to improve reflection.

    1. Walter says:

      I’ve got a jar of the road paint beads. There was some spilled on the side of the road in my neighborhood. I collected them for a project similar to this one. I plan to coat a piece of glass in the beads to create a transparent projection screen.

      I got the idea from something similar that I saw at a shop in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. It was a sheet of glass with a video being projected onto it. The glass had a rainbowy effect to it similar to a puddle of water and oil. The road paint beads give off the same rainbow effect.

  2. Daniel Morgan says:

    This is amazing, Sean.

  3. JamesW says:

    I would think possibly using white paint as a base layer, then some sort of adhesive (spray or roll-on) might work better. After all, paint is meant to paint stuff, and glue is meant to stick stuff. As long as the glue dries clear, of course.

    1. Sean Michael Ragan says:

      I tried that, first. The beads have to be halfway embedded in a white reflective material. See my notes and the comments on my notes from my first set of experiments:

      http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/02/diy-projection-screen-paint-tests.html

  4. David Smolkin says:

    So what are we actually looking at? Is this a screen with a higher reflectivity, resulting in brighter pictures?

  5. Jared Boehm says:

    Look up “retroreflector” in your friendly neighborhood search engine. That’s what this guy has done. Excellent work.

  6. Kris says:

    Very cool indeed. One thing I notice though. There is no information about contrast. I would like to see how dark tones compare to the light tones.

  7. Kris says:

    Very cool indeed. One thing I do notice though. There is no example how contrast works out. I would like to see blacks and whites in comparision in dark and daylight.

  8. Tim Harris says:

    I did this a few years ago with my goped. I painted it and threw glass sandblasting media on it to make it more reflective when riding at night. Works great!

  9. Anonymous says:

    awesome tips cant wait to try this. i guess i have to buy a projector

  10. Projector Screen Paint says:

    I like the pictures shown in this article! It looks real nice. But I am happy not to use a screen with glass. I like the pure colours of a wall painted with high-end-screen-paint.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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