Flexibility & Curves – will twisting and bending LED tapes cause any damage? 2017-12-01T12:41:12+00:00

InStyle’s LED tape offers you more flexibility than other forms of lighting. You can fit it to curved surfaces, twist it and even loop it back on itself. (After all, it’s supplied on reels!)

LED strip lights installed on a curved surface

LED tape looped around a standard reel

So bending your LED strip lights for installation on a curved surface is very straightforward. But what if your projects needs its LED tape to be bent flat (across the PCB’s edge), as in the picture below?

LED Tape bent at 45 degrees

If you need to bend your LED tape laterally (across the edge of the PCB) to an angle greater that 45 degrees, then we suggest these alternative approaches:

  1. Bending white LED tapes laterally
  2. LED tapes using connector clips on corners
  3. LED tapes using soldered links on corners

 

1. How to bend your LED tapes laterally

When we talk about ‘bending LED tapes laterally’, it means creating a curve of light on a flat surface (by bending the strip across the edge of the PCB). Like this:

5-watt LED strips (60 SMDs per metre)

Bending LED tape with 8mm PCB (60 SMDs per metre)

Bending LED tape with 8mm PCB (60 SMDs per metre)

5-watt white LED strips (8mm wide, 60 SMDs per metre)

LED strips are designed to be very flexible. Their PCBs (printed circuit boards) are so robust that many LED tape products can be bent up to 90 degrees with no difficulty.

But be aware that higher-power LED strips are less flexible than lower-power ones. This is because the LED modules are placed closer together on high-power strips, and require wider PCBs (for more heat dispersal).

The 5-watt white LED tape shown here has 60 LEDs per metre, mounted on an 8-millimetre-wide PCB.

For comparison, we’ve got pictures illustrating the flexibility of some more LED tapes below…

7.5-watt RGB LED strips (30x5050 SMDs per metre)

7.5-watt RGB LED strips (10mm wide, 30×5050 SMDs /m)

Bending LED tape with 10mm PCB (30x5050 SMDs per metre)

Bending LED tape with 10mm PCB (30x5050 SMDs per metre)

10-watt LED strips (120 SMDs per metre)

10-watt white LED strips (8mm wide, 120×3528 SMDs /m)

Bending LED tape with 8mm PCB (120 SMDs per metre)

Bending LED tape with 8mm PCB (120 SMDs per metre)

24-watt LED strips (120x2835 SMDs per metre)

24-watt white LED strips (10mm wide, 120×2835 SMDs /m)

Bending LED tape with 10mm PCB (120x2835 SMDs per metre)

Bending LED tape with 10mm PCB (120x2835 SMDs per metre)

Note: When bending your LED tape across the PCB’s edge, take care not to damage the PCB mounting. We strongly recommend you apply the bend at one of the tape’s marked cut-points.


 

2. How to bend your LED tapes laterally with clip-on connectors

If your LED tape needs to bend at an angle greater than 45 degrees (for example, to go around a right-angle corner), then we do not recommend physically bending it. Instead, we suggest one of our tape connectors.

2-core flexible-link connector - open

Clip-on connectors have a standard 150mm cable. This length cannot be adjusted, so you’ll have to find space to hide any excess cable. This can be a problem for some installations.

InStyle’s LED tape has a wide beam angle of 120 degrees, so it can be quite forgiving if the LEDs are not perfectly positioned. But even so, be careful not to space the LED strip sections too far apart like so, as this will lead to ‘dark’ patches in the light produced by the LED tape run.

LED clip-on connectors should not be widely spaced, as this may lead to 'dark' areas

This video explains more about our clip-on tape connectors.

Tape-to-tape connectors by InStyle LED
 


Instead, you should position the LED strip sections close together. The goal is to keep an even amount of space between the LEDs on the boards, like so:

LED clip-on connectors should be positioned close together for an even lighting effect


 

3. How InStyle can solder flexible links so your LED tapes bend laterally

You can order your tape with flexible LED strip connectors already fitted. Tell us where you want your tape to bend, and we’ll cut and solder your flexible connector(s) before your order is dispatched – so it’s ready to use right out of the package.

Link cables are completely customisable, so they can be cut to fit your LED strip lighting project exactly – without excess cable, or with longer cables if required.

Like this:

LED strip bent to 90 degrees, using a very short (custom) flexible link


But what about my LED tape extrusions? Can they bend too?

Yes they can! Bendable aluminium LED tape extrusions are now available. You can order yours from InStyle LED today.

Bendable aluminium LED tape extrusion

LED tape extrusion bent in an arch

Flexible LED profile can bend much further than traditional extrusions