Exhibition stand of the watchmaker Aviator at the Baselworld 2015

© Axis Expotechnik

The new way of designing spaces with light

Large, uniformly illuminated surfaces are a popular design element in architecture and shopfitting. Lightgraphic creates fascinating highlights with a laser engraved PLEXIGLAS® plate.

Whether at the reception desk, in bars or restaurants or even outside on building facades or bus stations – architects, shopfitters and designers like using light to create highlights or give rooms that special atmosphere. And they often use lager, uniformly illuminated surfaces to do so. Lightgraphic, an innovation of axis GmbH from Nuremberg, makes luminous elements such as room dividers and wall panels seem like they are floating in the air.

PLEXIGLAS® laser engraving

This appearance is achieved by using special lighting technology: Intricate lines are lasered into a transparent PLEXIGLAS® plate. LEDs placed at the edge of the plate then feed light to the entire component. This light, however, is only emitted where there are lasered engravings; the remaining plate remains fully transparent. The light source thus fades into the background and the acrylic glass itself is almost invisible – only the illuminated design is visible.

Light as a design element

Lightgraphic was the result of a query by two light designers, Ingmar Boos and Daniel Schulz, the owners of Boos & Schulz Designagentur (BSD). They wanted to develop new office lamps with a barely noticeable housing, letting the light itself become the design element instead. At axis, they found an open ear for their idea. With their custom LED surface lights made of PLEXIGLAS®, the company from Nuremberg has been creating impressive accents in architecture, interior design, shopfitting and booth construction for many years and has often developed new technical solutions for their customers.

“We immediately knew that we could implement the designers’ ideas using lines engraved in PLEXIGLAS®, which is a method we have been using for years,” says Felix Szak, who manages axis GmbH together with his father and jointly responsible for the development of Lightgraphic. However, it soon became evident that the lines engraved with a CNC mill were too rough to create the desired intricate effect. “We therefore experimented with a modern CNC laser and developed a solution that satisfied the designers,” says Szak.

That is one of the reasons we decided to use PLEXIGLAS®: machining and engraving it with a laser works extremely well.

Felix Szak
Project Manager Light at axis GmbH

Easy to machine

The laser allows for microscopically fine lines with a minimal width of a tenth of a millimeter, but this requires material that can be processed with precision. “That is one of the reasons we decided to use PLEXIGLAS®,” says Szak. “In addition, the laser engraving is illuminated uniformly thanks to the excellent light-conducting properties of PLEXIGLAS®. This is what creates the impression of a floating element made of light.”

Cielo lamp by OCARI®

Individual design

The “Cielo” lamp, and later the lamp brand OCARI®,   were the result of the collaboration between axis, BSD and OPTOLED LIGHTING GmbH. The brand sells lamps that utilize the Lightgraphic expertise for spectacular lamps.

© Boos & Schulz Designagentur

Lamps, wall panels and furniture

Since those early days, the plastics specialists at axis have further refined the process. Now, it is not only possible to engrave lines, but basically any graphics, whether patterns, symbols or lettering in various sizes and strengths and two-dimensional or three-dimensional forms. The brightness can also be graduated. The laser engravings are illuminated by warm white, neutral white or colorful LEDs. The LED design elements are used in architecture, interior or product design and in shopfitting, for example as lamps, luminous objects, an illuminated panel for a wall covering or transparent, ceiling-high room dividers. They can even be used for furniture, such as unusual LED lounge chairs and tables. “The possibilities are basically endless,” says Szak. “Lightgraphic is a new way of designing spaces with light.”