Light Diffuser

LED it shine

LEDs are becoming increasingly popular in homes, offices and hotel rooms. The tiny light-emitting diodes emit their light at specific points – only through the use of diffusers they can distribute it evenly throughout the room. So far, however, the films or panels used for this purpose have often been unwieldy and space-consuming. The new Light Diffuser nonwoven from Freudenberg Performance Materials, on the other hand, is flexible and diffuses light uniformly, even in confined spaces. Luminaire manufacturers like Molto Luce expect that this will open up new design possibilities.

Sometimes they are mounted on the wall as colored tiles. Sometimes folded like origami so that they can alter their luminous effect. They come in flat, long, round or square shapes. LEDs, light-emitting diodes, can be installed in almost any shape. They are durable, switch-proof and save 80 percent compared to the energy consumed by an incandescent lamp. They also enable an unprecedented variety of colors. More than 16 million shades can be mixed from the three primary colors red, green and blue – from pale pink to orange and ultramarine. Color sequences can be combined as desired, lighting scenarios programmed and rooms transformed within fractions of a second. Lighting designers are talking about a revolution: no other light source has made such a difference to artificial lighting since the invention of electric light.

Christian Hofwimmer

Christian Hofwimmer, Molto Luce

 

“Today, we can use LEDs to realize almost any color, shape and dimension, and thus react flexibly to the wishes of our customers”, explained Christian Hofwimmer, Product Manager at the Austrian luminaire manufacturer Molto Luce.

Energy-efficient and now also affordable light-emitting diodes are increasingly gaining ground on the market and are replacing incandescent, halogen and energy-saving lamps (see info box). But LEDs have one disadvantage: they only emit light at specific points. So-called “diffusers” – above all coated diffuser films or filled diffuser plates – are used to distribute light evenly throughout the room. The homogeneous light creates a pleasant atmosphere and ensures, for example, that employees in offices are not dazzled.

The problem, as Hofwimmer knows, is that “the previously available diffusers are stiff, effectively negating the advantage of the flexible LED design. The new Light Diffuser from Freudenberg, on the other hand, is very thin and flexible. This opens up new possibilities for dimensioning and creating three-dimensional shapes.”

Getting closer to the lamp

With conventional diffusers, space requirements increase with performance: the further away the diffuser is from the lamp, the better the diffusion. Along with the thickness of the plastic diffusers used to date, this often results in relatively bulky structures – in stark contrast to the tiny LED itself, which easily fits on a business card.

4 years

Freudenberg’s experts have been working on the Light Diffuser portfolio for 4 years – from initial idea through to market maturity.
Jochen Bialek

Jochen Bialek, FPM Product Manager

Freudenberg has addressed the trend towards ever lighter and more compact luminaires and officially introduced the innovative nonwoven at Light & Building 2018. It consists of special fine polyester fibers that cross and overlap each other. The individual light points strike the material, dissolve and spread across the entire surface – even when the distance to the light source is small. “Industry outsiders frequently fail to recognize at first that our material consists of fibers – that’s how uniformly they are processed. They usually think it’s a film”, observed Freudenberg Product Manager Jochen Bialek.

“This kind of nonwoven is really something new for the industry. Although textiles have been used before to diffuse light, they were not of this quality.”

Christian Hofwimmer, Product Manager at Austrian luminaire manufacturer Molto Luce.
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“With a material thickness of 0.05 to 0.12 millimeters and weight of less than 85 grams per square meter, the Light Diffuser from Freudenberg is up to 95% thinner and lighter than diffuser panels with comparable scattering performance. Thanks to the efficient light distribution and the flexibility of the material, luminaires can be made slimmer, which in turn enables a greater variety of designs”, Jochen Bialek explained. What’s more, the Light Diffuser can be installed more quickly and its low weight reduces interim storage and transport costs.

Light Diffuser

The new nonwoven is already spreading light uniformly in high-quality, technical and design-oriented luminaires. In the future, this will probably apply to Molto Luce products too. The lighting specialist from Wels in Upper Austria is currently testing the Light Diffuser in the development of new luminaires for offices, hotels, restaurants and homes. Lighting expert Christian Hofwimmer has high hopes for the material: “Although textiles have already been used as a means to diffuse light, they were not of this quality.”

More Information: Innovations - Light-Diffuser-Nonwoven

LED – the trend illuminant

Falling prices and bans on incandescent and halogen lamps are accelerating the triumphal march of LEDs. These robust cold-light luminaires are gradually taking over in homes, offices, restaurants and hotel lobbies. They are also being used in cars, televisions, computers, Christmas trees and even shoe heels. Their share of the global lighting market is forecast to reach 61 percent by 2020 compared with just 0.3 percent in 2010. Today, around three-quarters of all consumers in Germany already use LEDs as a household light source.

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