How to Light

How to Light: When should custom optics become the standard choice?

This question has been answered by David Bates, Divisional Marketing Manager of Carclo Optics.

The arrival of the LED radically changed the technical landscape of the lighting industry, and large, high-temperature light sources are now a thing of the past. Product designers are instead working with very small, intensely bright LED chips. Relying on reflector technology and diffuser panels is no longer a viable option when it comes to accurate photometric design. This leads to secondary optics being the first choice.

Optics have evolved in line with the rest of the burgeoning lighting industry, and there are multiple options for every project – whatever the budget and required effect.

Given the variety of environments in which designers are operating, it is only natural that a fully-fledged range of standard optics has developed and is now available on the market. Tried and tested by the exacting requirements of today’s professionals, the extensive standard ranges available today generally include 10mm, 20mm, 26.5mm and 60mm TIR optics, extruded optics, side-emitting optics, freeform and array optics.

Examples of all the above are available from companies such as Carclo Optics – the producers of the 33Up arrays and Mini Hubble freeform optics – and can be found on their website

Premium manufacturers produce their optics in polycarbonate, PMMA or silicone. These materials have inherent qualities that make them suitable for certain types of application.

Along with these fundamental choices, there are more specialised options available, still within the standard range. These include IP-rated optics and extrusion optics. More recently, the market has seen the emergence of multi-array optics that have proven popular with customers.

Optics are available as single configurations or multi-arrays with up to 84 optics available as one moulded solution. There are also optics that can be arranged to create the illusion of a single continuous optic while offering the additional benefit of preventing accidental contact with high voltage wiring.

If, after exploring the standard ranges, the designer is still struggling to find specific optics to meet their requirements, a custom-designed solution may be the most suitable route to market.

Custom optics extend the options available by tailoring parts to fit a project’s exacting requirements. The possibilities are truly endless. With the technological advances, it’s possible to make even the most imaginative project an affordable reality.

Custom solutions provide an innovative, bespoke offering that ensures the specific elements of each requirement are addressed and satisfied – from concept to manufacture and design to print.



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