Light-up paint offers radical, if pricey, way to make your car glow

For the past few years, an Ohio motorcycle customizer has been working on the ultimate eye-catching tool —paint that would not only glow, but switch on and off, without fade. As you can see, Andy Zsinko and his product LumiLor has come close to the promise of a surface that could dance with lights like a Vegas marquee — but there's quite a few hurdles to clear before you could flash messages to other drivers.

Zsinko and his company, Darkside Scientific, certainly didn't invent luminescent paint for vehicles. The problem has long been that such paints in automotive use suffer from the same shortfalls that all glow-in-the-dark toys do: they need sunlight to recharge, they lose their energy and dim quickly at night, and they usually only come in that single shade of green.

LumiLor Lit Car from Darkside Scientific on Vimeo.


Zsinko told the Akron Beacon-Journal that it took two years of trial and error to come up with a system that solved those problems. What you're seeing here isn't just paint, but a complicated multi-layer coating that includes a conductive base, two-wire connections to electrical power, an insulating primer coat and the final lighting top coat. The lights have a half-life of 10,000 hours, and take a minimal amount of electricity; plus in some shades, they're not visible when off.

While the paint goes on using the same tools found in any body shop or hobbyist's garage, Darkside Scientific says the coatings are tricky enough to require years of painting experience followed by weeks of training to apply correctly. Every patch has to have its own connection, plus there's the controllers necessary for pulling tricks off like the glowing Tesla demonstrates. (For colors, Darkside can match a much wider range than what's shown above, by mixing topcoats.)

And as for cost, a small demonstration part for a motorcycle runs $300, and Darkside doesn't quote a base price due to the complexities of each job, but a car-size application would likely run into the tens of thousands of dollars. There's also the question of whether light-up paint steps over the rules for lights on vehicles or could distract other drivers, but those are further down the road. For now, Zsinko and team are working to turn LumiLor into a real business, and make our roads look that much more like Tron.