MakerBot At Work: Making Clips To Attach LEDs To The San Francisco Bay Bridge

Last week I posted on the process of scanning one of the cables of the Bay Bridge, in preparation for designing an LED attachment strategy for the Bay Lights project. Here’s a bit more info on what we came up with.

bay bridge clip

Bay Bridge LED attachment clip test

The brief is to attach strings of high-intensity Philips outdoor LEDs to the vertical suspension cables of the bridge. Initially, the thought was to just zip tie them into place, but Philips engineers pointed out that this would damage the data and power cables. Ideally we would also come up with a solution that simplifies the work of the installation crews, by allowing for easy positioning and assembly.

A first step was to design a clip that would allow attaching pre-existing rails to the cables, and have the LEDs latch into the rail. However, this would have been expensive and unsightly. I had the idea to just use the clips to go directly onto the suspension cable. I was also able to add side channels for the extension cables that go to other segments of the LED cable. (The extension cable is the thick black one on the side). The clip is designed to clip securely to the data cable, and to guide the zip tie into the right position.

The plan is to test a strand of LEDs on the bridge this week, using 55 clips printed on a Makerbot (!). If all goes well, then we need another 25,000 of the things…

Here’s a video that describes the process in a bit more detail:

YouTube Preview Image
Tagged with , 4 comments

4 Comments so far

  • Lucas Saugen
    May 7, 2012 at 1:47 pm


    I live in the SF and would love to print some of these for this project with my TOM.

  • Keith Rasmussen
    May 8, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Anyone know which Philips LED product this uses? I don’t see it in the Philips online catalog.

  • Brendan Edwards
    September 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Be careful not to print these out of something that breaks down in sunlight.

  • Dorel Baila
    June 8, 2013 at 1:48 am

    They’re utilizing Philips Color Kinetics’ eW Flex SLX strings:

    Feel free to contact me for additional info and pricing.


    Dorel Baila
    Director of Entertainment Sales
    LED Source, LLC


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