The field of optics is vast. It encompasses a wide range of industries and technologies. The niche needed by the lighting industry is illumination optics.

In this article we discuss illumination optics, types of illumination and various types of LED optics. At the end of the article we discuss prototyping of illumination optics and how this helps you reduce costs and even improve time to market.

Illumination optics

Illumination optics requires a multidisciplinary approach. A good optical engineer must understand mathematics, physics, materials, process engineering, cost engineering, lighting standards, lighting regulations and of course visual perception. The transition to LED optics changed the rules of optical design and enabled the use of optical polymers. Which in turn allows for variation in optical solutions and products. This has changed the appearance of luminaires and allows for more precise intensity distributions.

Illumination types

Let’s take a closer look at various types of illumination.

Directional illumination

There is a point source of illumination from one or multiple sources. Lenses could be used to spread out or focus the illumination. This results in bright and flexible illumination. Downsides of directional illumination include potential shadowing and glare. Directional illumination is utilized for LED spot lights.

Glancing illumination

There is a point source of illumination, similar to directional illumination, except at a sharp angle of incidence. This shows surface structure and will enhance an objects topography. At the same time it will result in shadowing and hot spots. Glancing illumination can also be used for LED spot lights.

Diffuse illumination

This type of illumination is from a source which offers a diffuse light. This provides even illumination and reduces glare.

Structured light

Structured light are light patterns which are projected onto an object, like spots, grids or circles. This will enhance surface features by providing intense illumination onto a small area.

Types of LED optics

Let’s take a closer look at various LED optics, starting with primary LED optics.

Primary LED optics

LEDs face one direction. Let’s image a line going down the center point. Spatial distribution is measured in degrees from this center. Every optic has a beam that will extend to either side of this center point, meaning you will never get the entire lumen output from the LED across the whole spectrum. The closer to the center of the beam, the stronger the light. Along this center the LED emits all of its relative luminous intensity. This intensity is lost the farther away you move from the center. This is where secondary optics can be used, in order to intensify the light. Brightness and efficiency of LEDs can be improved to their full capacity by using secondary LED optics.

Secondary LED optics

Secondary LED optics are available in three types:

  • Optics
  • Reflectors
  • Total internal reflectors (TIRs)

As mentioned earlier a secondary LED optic will collimate the light from a source and magnify its intensity towards the target area. Secondary optics are useful to improve color uniformity and distribution of light. Getting the best LED optic for your project can be done by utilizing a custom optics manufacturing service. By utilizing such a method you do not have to rely on modified stock optics, instead you can create novel products and innovations. With our unique optics manufacturing technology you are able to create all kinds of complex freeform shapes.

Prototyping of illumination optics

We offer a unique prototyping service for optics and we are able to scale upto 500 pieces per batch for series production. With our unique optics prototyping and manufacturing service you can reduce costs, reduce risk and improve time to market.

With our technology you can have your custom polymer optics shipped to you within 10 working days. We keep costs low as we minimize tooling costs and there is no MOQ. Our process enables you, as an optical engineer, to utilize full design freedom. Incorporating complex shapes and surfaces becomes possible and cost-effective.

Feel free to check out our current datasheet in order to review our current capabilities and material properties.

Are you looking to move your illumination optics project forward? Please contact us. We are looking forward to hearing about your latest project!