Thursday, October 1, 2009

LED Solutions

Recently we were involved in a project constructed of perforated stainless steel sheet metal folded into a rectangle-shaped form to wrap around a column. The perforated metal was selected to create a transparent sheer effect around a core white acrylic box. The acrylic core was to be lit using fluorescent tube T5 lamps, selected for their even illumination and energy efficiency.

In production we thought we had addressed the challenge that the fixed length of the T5 lamps represented by incorporating an adjustable sliding fixture that would allow us to overlap two bulbs to exactly the right length to fill each of the segments perfectly.

This worked out to be an effective solution and would have been successful if we hadn't been working with such tight tolerances on the core acrylic box. The narrow width of the core box meant that the off-set fluorescent tubes were located an unequal distance from the edge of the box. This generated a long linear "hotspot" half the length of the fixture (see photo below). 

Two more inches in width of the acrylic box would have resolved this inequity by providing enough distance for the light to even out before it came into contact with the acrylic diffuser. With a ship date mere days away we had to figure out rather quickly how to overcome this optical challenge.

Our solution came in the shape of LED light strips. LED light strips are relatively new to the market and still significantly more expensive per watt than equivalent fluorescent solutions, but in the right application they can be a real asset.

This was a perfect situation to deploy this newer technology and the result was uniform light within a very narrow space. We were able to correct for some of the 'coolness' of the LED light by adding a very thin mylar diffuser which added just enough warmth to bring the LEDs into a more pleasantly-perceived color range.

Sometimes last minute surprises can be extremely frustrating, but we seem to always find new solutions in the challenges they bring. The final product was quite mesmerizing as you walked around it. The perforated metal shimmered as the overlapping planes of holes created ever-changing moire patterns. Click here to go to the Custom Project page.

Jim Walch of Fire Farm

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