The use of LED (light-emitting diode) lighting is growing rapidly thanks to its many benefits: higher-quality light, greater energy efficiency, and lower maintenance costs. In fact, a report by Radiant Insights predicts the global LED lighting market to reach $63.1 billion by 2020. Yet for all the energy and maintenance saving advantages, conversion to LEDs poses three sizable challenges for both design engineers and fixture manufacturers.
The Thermal Challenge
With high-power LEDs, it is crucial this heat be removed through efficient thermal management. Otherwise, the junction (internal) temperature of the LED rises, causing both the forward voltage and the lumen output to decrease and the fixtures brightness and efficiency to gradually decline.
Historically, aluminum has been the material of choice for thermal management applications in the lighting industry due to is thermal conductivity. For LEDs, which have new thermal challenges and greater diversity in solid-state lighting (SSL) forms, heat sinks made from aluminum extrusions are the best approach.
Aluminum extrusions can be designed to incorporate cooling fins that act as an integrated heat sink to dissipate heat from the LED light. Engineers are also utilizing aluminum’s thermal conductivity to design complete extruded LED light fixtures that transfer and dissipate heat for optimal thermal efficiency.
The Design Challenge
The use aluminum extrusions offers endless design possibilities to incorporate interfaces for lenses, circuit boards, and end caps, while allowing the lighting designer to create the shape they desire and “put the metal where it is needed.” Custom extrusions can incorporate built-in hinges, screw bosses, receptors, and grooves, and can integrate assembly options such as built-in dovetail, snap fit spring, and slots.
Extrusion dies are relatively inexpensive and extrusions’ ability to be easily cut, formed, bent, machined, and finished with anodizing or painting make them ideal for high-efficiency lighting. Extrusions have the added benefit of integrating other materials into the fixture itself, such as reflectors and mountings, and enable the creation of dual-purpose lighting designs that are compact, easy to install, and offer a streamlined appearance.
The Manufacturing Challenge
Given its small size and design flexibility, LEDs can lead to an unwieldy proliferation of parts and SKUs (and substantial ramp-up costs) for the lighting manufacturer. Fortunately, many of these parts can be eliminated with the use of custom aluminum extrusions.
The design flexibility of the extrusion process allows a great deal of functionality to be designed into extruded components, improving performance, saving secondary operations, and speeding subsequent assembly. Not just in new product design, but in existing products substitution of other materials and processes by aluminum extrusions can result in major cost savings through fewer components, reduced finishing, simplified assembly, and improved supply chain logistics.
Download the complete whitepaper, 3 Toughest LED Lighting Design Challenges Solved Using Aluminum Extrusions, for additional insights and examples of how LED lighting designers are using aluminum extrusions to meet both interior and exterior lighting needs.