Lighting : Lighting April 2016 - Vol 36 Issue 2
April/May 2016 | LIGHTING MAGAZINE 13 12 LIGHTING MAGAZINE | April/May 2016 FEATURE The rise of LED technology: challenges and benefits BY CLAIRE THOMPSON LEDs have transformed the lighting industry, but what are they really like to work with? Four different lighting professionals talk about the challenges and benefits of working with this disruptive technology. LEDs have application in a wide variety of sectors. Here, Gamma Illumination’s Modwash, Modtrim, Atria and Evoke LEDs have been installed at the East Sydney Day Hospital. Image courtesy of Gamma Illumination. Architecture by Anthony Vavayis & Associates Pty Ltd Architects. DAVID CALABRO Head of Engineering, Research and Development, Gamma Illumination What does Gamma Illumination do? Our core business is commercial lighting. We design our own products, including our LEDs, and our products are manufactured here in Australia. We’ve been in business for 30 years this year. Gamma’s LEDs are developed in partnership with a Japanese OEM manufacturer. Tell me about that. We use LED chips from Sharp, an OEM manufacturer in Japan. We developed that relationship about 9 years ago. Prior to that point we were using LED, but in 2007 we sort of realigned ourselves in the market. We worked with a few companies to develop our LED capabilities but we weren’t getting the results we wanted in terms of consistency, performance and reliability. Our relationship with Sharp is unique. They custom make chips according to our design and to meet our electrical and mechanical requirements. What are the challenges of LED technology? With earlier version LED technologies, LED manufacturers had a certain target for How has that changed over time? Our partnership with Sharp really changed the Australian LED landscape. Through some technologies and patented innovations that we came up with, we were able to completely eliminate the performance and colour variation at the chip level. That was 9 years ago. Now, a lot of the LED manufacturers have caught up and realised that it’s actually a good selling point when selling chips to luminaire manufacturers – that they can offer these tight tolerances now. But this is probably only in the last 2-3 years. Prior to that it was still a big nightmare. Which aspects of LED technology are you focused on in terms of ongoing development? Right now we’re interested in feature set, so looking at colour changing, control systems. Performance is still our number one priority – delivering the best lumens per watt to the customer. I think when it comes to quality, reliability and lifetime, we’ve already solved that many years ago, and it’s a formula we stick with. When your product’s already going to last 10 or 20 years, you can’t really improve on that. What changes can we expect to see in the LED market in the next few years? China’s becoming a big force now in LED. A lot of LED patents will be expiring in the next few years, and once that happens, it will open the floodgates for the Chinese manufacturers to be producing LEDs at Chinese prices. And sure, they work. But what happens 2-3 years down the track when some of them start failing and they want to replace them? There are a few problems there. Firstly, will the replacements be of the same colour? Will they match? A lot of local companies that have been importing have disappeared, so claiming a warranty or getting replacement products to match has been very difficult for some. How will you respond to those challenges? We can’t offer a product at a Chinese price, but we can offer very reliable, high performance products. We’ve got the track record to prove the reliability and we’ve got all the test data to prove the performance. I think companies that have been around well before LED existed should have the determination to still be around in future. LEDs illuminate the LuminoCity graduation exhibition projects within the UNSW Built Environment galleries. Image courtesy of Gamma Illumination. performance and colour of a chip, but there was always some variation between individual chips. These companies devised ways to bin the LEDs and group them into certain colour groups and performance groups. Companies were leaving it up to the luminaire manufacturer to deal with these large variations in performance and colour, and a lot of luminaire manufacturers were simply trying to pass that onto their customers.
Lighting February 2016 - Vol 36 Issue 1
Lighting June 2016 - Vol 36 Issue 3