Perfect light – almost without lamps
While just a few years ago highly decorative lighting elements were being developed, today the light itself takes center stage. Designers and manufacturers need special light-conducting materials for this.
Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs for short, are probably the most important invention in lighting since the advent of the light bulb. As their technology requires little maintenance, is highly durable and saves energy, they are increasingly supplanting other illuminants in many areas. But alongside their technical advantages, LEDs also offer new design possibilities.
Lighting trend: light panels instead of fluorescent tubes
Due to their compact form, the bright LEDs enable flatter lights such as LED light panels. These flat LED lights consist of a homogeneous illuminated surface, making them a visually appealing alternative to conventional fluorescent tubes when providing functional lighting in office, trade or commercial settings. Moreover, light panels provide pleasant, glare-free lighting, as the larger the illuminated surface, the less glaring the light.
Pleasant office lighting
Offices, for example, can be illuminated with LED light panels without light reflections disturbing work at computer screens. Flat light panel models illuminated from the edges can be fitted directly in ceiling grids for this purpose.
©Fa. Kobek Siebdruck GmbH & Co. KG, Traunreut
Lighting trend: atmospheric lighting
However, light panels can not only be used for functional lighting in offices and commercial applications, but can also lend rooms and whole buildings a striking appearance and create a special atmosphere, like the light panels from axis GmbH & Co. KG from Nuremberg. “Our LED light panel is not a light that you simply hang on the ceiling, but a very high-quality, tailor-made solution for architectural lighting,” explains Felix Szak, Project Manager for Light at axis. “We do not use light primarily for illumination here, but as a design medium.” For example, the light panels create large, illuminated and, where desired, colored surfaces or exciting combinations with translucent and natural materials, metals or textiles.
Lighting trend: light not lamps
Light + Building 2018
The trends and innovations in the lighting market are on the agenda at this year’s Light + Building, the world’s leading trade fair for lighting and building technology, which takes place in Frankfurt am Main on March 18 to 23, 2018.
These light panels are not only a currently popular design element in architecture, interior design, shopfitting and exhibition booth construction, the classic lighting market as a whole has changed: Whereas just a few years ago designers were creating the most decorative lighting elements possible, light itself now takes center stage, as seen in the “Cielo” and “Liviano” lamps from Ocari. In both models, the milled lines of the transparent lighting element allow the LED light to be emitted. “Our idea was to get rid of the housing so that the light itself becomes the lamp,” says Daniel Schulz, co-owner of the Boos & Schulz Designagentur (BSD) design agency, about the starting point for his Liviano creation “For me, that is what makes a perfect lamp. I don’t want to see a metal housing, I want to see light when it’s switched on.”
Planar light as a design element
Light panels are not only ideally suited for ceiling lighting, but also as a design element for architecture and interior design, as well as in shopfitting and exhibition booth construction.
Colorful, luminous surfaces
Design and lighting go hand in hand with the light panels from axis GmbH & Co. KG. PLEXIGLAS® LED and PLEXIGLAS® Satinice enable homogeneous light scattering.
Even streetcar stops are transformed into art using light, making them real eye-catchers on the streets.
Thanks to laser-engraved PLEXIGLAS®, even a table can become an impressive light.
Lighting not lamps
With lighting elements made of transparent PLEXIGLAS®, the lamp housing recedes almost completely into the background. Instead, the light escapes from the engraved patterns.
©Boos & Schulz Designagentur
Because PLEXIGLAS® is easy to process and form and can be laser-engraved with the highest precision, the material grants designers a lot of space for their ideas.
©Boos & Schulz Designagentur
Light-conducting materials needed
However, in order to allow the light to take center stage, designers and lighting manufacturers require special light-conducting materials. After all, LEDs themselves emit strong point lighting, which would dazzle the viewer. “LEDs need a material that transforms their light into pleasant illumination,” says Matthias Schäfer, Market Segment Manager for Visual Communication and Lighting at Evonik. “Thanks to its excellent light-conducting properties, PLEXIGLAS® offers a variety of options. Our brand acrylic glass enables ultra-flat lighting elements with a large surface area as well as unusual forms.”
Numerous variants of the material are available for this as panels, tubes, rods and molding compounds with a variety of colors, surface finishes and structures. PLEXIGLAS® LED, for instance, is a variant of the brand acrylic glass optimized specially for the requirements of modern lighting. This quality also convinced the inventors of the light panel: “In our tests, thanks to its high light output, PLEXIGLAS® LED proved to be by far the best solution for the panel, into which we feed the light via the edge,” explains Szak. “With PLEXIGLAS®, the surface is lit homogeneously without any visible differences in brightness.”
PLEXIGLAS® offers outstanding light conductivity
LEDs need a material that takes their light to where it is needed. Thanks to its excellent light conductivity, PLEXIGLAS® offers lots of options.
Market Segment Manager for Visual Communication and Lighting at Evonik
Alongside these special lighting products, the standard material PLEXIGLAS® GS also possesses good light-conducting properties, as demonstrated by the creations from Ocari: Here, the brand acrylic glass also guides the light from the LEDs into the entire unit and outcouples it along the engraved lines. “The source of the light fades into the background completely,” said Schulz. “Without the outstanding light conductivity of PLEXIGLAS®, this effect would simply not be possible.” PLEXIGLAS® thus enables perfect light (almost) without lamps.
Aesthetics and well-being in harmony
Lighting is not just about design and function: Light affects our health, our performance and our well-being. For instance, the quality of light at the workplace influences motivation, while lighting in shopfittings can generate a pleasant atmosphere for customers.