Glass sand-blasting beads in DIY screen - Page 4 - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #31 of 31 Old 08-08-13, 04:11 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: New York
Posts: 43
Re: Glass sand-blasting beads in DIY screen

This is the text off their site:

Another front projection surface with high gain is Da-Lite's new glass beaded High Power™ material. Although glass beaded screens have been around for years, the High Power™ surface represents a substantial advance in technical excellence. The surface of High Power™ is comprised of a huge number of tiny glass beads distributed evenly across a white vinyl field. In constructing this surface Da-Lite has found a way to get the diameter of the average bead reduced to about 9 microns. This is better than a conventional glass beaded screen by a factor of 7 since their typical bead diameter is about 65µ. The consequent improvement in resolution is of course equally great.

I read a little about how they say it works but then my brain melted and poured out of my ear. I don't know if they make their own beads or buy them. The part I don't agree with is that it is better by a factor of 7 because the beads are 7 times smaller. It's too simplistic. Reading the rest of the page, they go on to explain in complex details about the difference the positioning and pattern of the beads makes. I have 3 sets of beads here. The powder sized beads are probably at least 7 times smaller than the next size up but they are not 7 times better because my eyes can't detect differences once you reach a certain size. Just like I can't tell the difference between 15,000:1 contrast ratio and 50,000:1 contrast ratio.

I am sure that Da-lite use better beads than my $5 experiment. From what little I do know, higher quality beads are not just smaller. You pay more for coatings, smoothness, consistency and the one that I understand makes the most difference which is the refractive index. For home theater, you would ideally want the 1.9 instead of the less expensive 1.5's. 1.9 index beads are 7 times brighter at a closer range.

I have also seen glass beads coated in pure silver which I'm think would be amazing but I haven't tried....

On the size issue, I have heard a lot of opinions on it. What is too big or too small (still talking beads!). I know one thing and that is, until you try it, you won't know if any bead will work for your room. My experience from experimenting is that once the beads get smaller than I am able to see without a magnifying glass, they are small enough to give a smooth surface that doesn't inhibit the detail of a 1080p projector.

Even the sand sized beads are only really visible if you are close. Check out these 2 pics. Both show a piece of black material painted with aluminum ink and then covered in sand sized glass beads. Using a 2000 lumen projector in the afternoon with the blinds open and lights on in the room. 1 pic is taken from a little closer than watching distance but directly in front. The 2nd pic shows the same except slightly off center. My biggest issue with this particular lot is the very narrow viewing cone. I also prefer the look of the powder sized beads for smoothness but at this distance, the glass texture is not massively prominent.

The overall point is that if you want to make a glass bead screen at home, you can. Information that suggests that it is impossible to get a consistent surface or find beads that work at all is inaccurate. There are tons of beads for sale on the internet. Literally hundreds of options from boron coated black beads to silver coated, to dichroic selectively reflective options. Some are expensive. Some are very cheap. I am fairly certain that if I put my mind to it, I could find beads that are both better and worse than whatever da-lite uses. Most of these screen companies are small niche manufacturers that often get away with charging a lot for a piece of material. Based on the limited innovation we have seen in this space and the number of industries that rely on reflection, the idea that they have a unique secret manufacturing process that is better than any of the dedicated larger manufacturers in the market is unbelievable to me. At least, could find any patents owned by them for beads.

Check out the reviews of the high power screen. They don't support their claims.

The part I took away was: "There are other picture attributes to be concerned with besides brightness. Black level, detail clarity, and color uniformity, to name a few" And more relevant:
"But most surprising was the fact that the Affinity looked smoother and sharper. Despite the fact that the High Power fabric has a very smooth surface, its picture had a graininess and noise level that was entirely absent on the Affinity".

The picture has a graininess and noise level. Not my words, just the words of someone who has actually seen it. Seems like the 9 micron beads weren't as good as they sounded on paper....

It's easy to be intimidated by the science on their websites. On face value, one could assume that it is impossible to make something nearly as good. That's what the marketing is meant to do. Scare you into thinking that $3000 for a piece of fabric is money well spent. The modern day emperors new clothes. They have all the same issue with glass beads that you or anybody else would. Just like them, selecting the right ones is a factor but no reason why you can't buy a bag of some that will work, just like they did. You're better than that!
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beads , diy , glass , sandblasting , screen

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