SSL Expert Panel to Discuss Advanced Manufacturing of LED Lighting Luminaires

The DOE SSL Expert Panel Sessions of September 2021, part of two series of meetings covering topics in LED materials and devices, lighting science, products, and manufacturing, were an excellent platform to discuss the latest in additive manufacturing for lighting systems design, manufacture, and components. The interactive talks, joined by technical experts from the lighting industry, served to identify R&D opportunities in lighting science, product concepts, and lighting manufacturing technologies for the continued advancement of LED lighting. As an independent representative for the additive manufacturing industry, Marco de Visser was asked to join the discussion to share his views on the state of the industry, and what to expect for the years ahead, with a special focus on the topic of additive optics manufacturing.

The Value of 3D Printing for Optics Manufacture

De Visser, in his position as an independent lighting consultant for Lumenworkx Engineering, an Expert Design, Technology and Sourcing company for custom lighting components, considered the value of additive manufacturing for optics. Additive manufacturing can help eliminate pain points in conventional product designs. The benefits and additive approach brings to the industry include fast, flexible, and cost-effective rapid prototyping; direct CAD to fabrication without tooling or inventory; enhanced flexibility to incorporate design variations or iterations; and the ability to do low volume production designs more economically. Additionally, an additive approach can help with the design process of custom optics for lighting by developing mockups for design performance validation and customer demonstrations.

Challenges in 3D Printed Optics

The technical challenges with additive optics fabrication include maintaining sufficient surface quality, developing new plugins for optical modeling to enable the design software, and the development of new optical materials with spectral enhancements (coatings), more resistance to yellowing, aging, and high temperatures, and the ability to use multi-materials (e.g., optics with embedded particles). Key R&D areas include materials research into printable optical materials and software development for implementing designs to manufacturing.

Image showing testimonials from DOE R&D Workshop session

Expert Panel Guidance

The insights and recommendations of the Expert Panel Sessions serve as guidelines and input for the Lighting R&D Workshops, styling the overall SSL R&D plan, solicitation, and awards (e.g. the Student Poster Competition) as organized by the DOE during the year.

If you are interested to discuss the latest in additive manufacturing methodologies for custom optics, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly.