“You know what the deal is with light? In principle, the theory is quite simple, but we don’t seem to know that much about how we can manipulate light. There’s still so much to discover, which is exactly what makes light so interesting.” Ruben de Wolff studies Industrial Product Design at Windesheim in Zwolle. What does it lead to? Designing smart products, which ultimately will be suitable for mass production. During the past period, he has put this into practice at Light4U.
Each product development starts with a question, or rather: a problem. In Ruben’s case, it was that stand builders often struggle with variable lighting. Lighting solutions are very specific: they light either an entire wall or a very specific object. Quick changes (which is after all a must in that industry) are not possible. Ruben: “I was asked to design a solution that lets you control the range of beam angles, in the form of a light fixture or as a separate module. They do already exist, but they don’t yet meet the standard that Light4U has in mind. Not practical, not fast, therefore not suitable.”
Research and experimentation
“Where to start? The starting point is robust Led lighting research: “What’s that guy working on?” research. How does one manipulate a range of beam angles? That requires a lot of online research and maybe even more importantly, lots of experimentation. I can imagine that a lot of people here in the beginning thought: what is that guy working on? I spent hours, days, trying to figure it out; I worked with reflectors, with diaphragms, the same as used in SLR cameras, but the most obvious solution is still in the lenses, also because these are the most flexible. ”
Focussing through rotation
By using and testing 3D prints we finally got a bright, concentrated bundle, with a strongly reduced aura.” The end result? Simple and quick changes between beam angles, simply by a rotation similar to a SLR camera. Not only ideal for stand builders, but also for example for fashion retail outlets with rapidly changing stock.”
Ruben’s solution was recently sent to Light4U’s manufacturing partners in China, where they will assess the suitability of the focus ring for production. Ruben: “That is quite exciting, but I have high hopes that it will go ahead.” In total, Ruben worked on his assignment for 10 weeks. Not a long time, but according to him there are reasons for that: “I was sitting with the team and could therefore ask many questions. This gave me a lot of inspiration and energy. I also had some basic knowledge of light from studying physics and it was also the first assignment I could work on full-time. Therefore, I was able to really focus on it, which is a lot more efficient. So much so, I started a second challenge.”
Designing spots that are even more compact
Ruben started developing a compact spot that fits each driver type of Light4U. This is with a view to the trend toward increasingly smaller spotlights. Ruben gave us a glimpse into this trend: “Spotlights and downlights are often seen as separate applications, but I have integrated them. How did I do that? By placing the ballast box between the cooling ribs. This saves a lot of space and the spot becomes a much more compact unit. An additional advantage therefore is that spots can also be used as downlights because of the symmetrical structure. Light fixtures on a rail then have the same look – that is visually calming – even though they have a different function. They are therefore not only more compact, but also multi-functional!” This design is also currently being assessed in China. Ruben: “Of course that is really cool and exactly the reason why I do it: smart designs, which are ultimately suitable for mass production. If it all goes through and the first shipment from China arrives, I am there!”
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