US sponsors 3D-printed SSL luminaires

Rensselaer’s Lighting Research Center (LRC) has partnered with Eaton Corporation on a project to develop a complete 3D-printed LED-integrated luminaires under funding from the US Department of Energy.

Over the next two years, the project partners will conduct research in material science, electronics, optics, and advanced manufacturing to investigate the transformational potential of a fully additively manufactured, LED-integrated luminaire, with a focus on reducing the cost of the luminaire’s dominant subsystems.

Components of a solid-state luminaire will be fabricated using additive manufacturing methods, including mechanical and thermal management structures, electrical and electronic structures (on three-dimensional representative substrates), and optical and light reflector structures.

The project, led by Eaton, was competitively selected through the energy department’s SSL R&D Funding Opportunity programme, and draws upon the LRC’s growing expertise in 3D printed lighting research.

Additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing) allows objects of almost any shape or geometry to be manufactured from digital model data. One value of 3D printing for SSL is the ability to design custom lighting fixtures that match the architectural features of a building and then “print” or manufacture them on-site for quick installation.

3D printing also can be beneficially utilised at the fixture component level. With 3D printing of fixtures, heat sinks can be designed to be part of the fixture envelope rather than attached afterwards, which would reduce the fixture’s bulk size and cost and improve its attractiveness.

The LRC has recently established an alliance among researchers and manufacturers to help overcome the technical barriers impeding the use of 3D printing and make it a viable resource for the SSL industry. Key stakeholders are coming together to develop a roadmap for transforming the industry to provide custom lighting fixtures, on-site and on-demand, which will elevate the appearance, value, and experience of the built environment. The Additive Manufacturing for Lighting Consortium will enable a collaborative process to define, plan, and develop this roadmap for lighting practice, allowing for a major transformation toward a business model of custom, value-added lighting fixtures.

More information about the LRC’s 3D printing research is here