With optics you are able to control the direction of light, delivering the light where you want it to go. The optics in LED lighting systems are crucial elements for that system’s performance. Not only do they change the direction of the light, but they also intensify the light coming from the LED source. Among other applications, lighting optics can be used to create crisp light, diffuse light, and concentrate light in specific areas.
In this article we talk about primary and secondary optics and how to find the right optics for your particular project.
Primary LED optics and secondary optics
The small dome over the diode is what is known as the primary optic. This serves to protect and shape the output of the diode. However, the light emitted from the LEDs primary optic is too broad for most applications. As such secondary optics (lenses, reflector, TIR optics, and so on) are used to collect light and intensify it towards the targeted area.
The light that is coming from the LEDs primary optic is known as spatial distribution. This means the shape or spread of light measured from the center of the LED. Spatial distribution is measured in degrees from this center point.
Secondary optics collimate the light rays into a controlled beam that can be directed towards the area where full light intensity is needed. Collimated light rays spread in parallel, although it is not possible to make the light completely parallel because of diffraction.
In order to understand how a secondary optic or lens collimates a light beam we can look at the viewing angle, or full width half maximum (FWHM). FWHM describes the angular width of the beam when the intensity at the edge is half the intensity of the center of the beam. However, optics with identical viewing angles can differ in intensity and quality of the beam. This is dependent upon the optical design of the emitters.
Secondary optics can also be used to improve light distribution within a specific area, or to improve color uniformity. Each situation will require a specific optic or lens in order to create the desired light beam.
Custom lighting optics for various applications
Choosing the right optics for an application helps maximize lighting efficiency and reduces wasted energy. However, finding the right optics can be a challenge. You might choose to customize stock optics, or create unique optical prototypes.
Most of the lighting optics that are available in stock might not be perfectly suited for your particular goal. Having stock optics customized can be a costly challenge which also requires a lot of time. We are pleased to let you know that you no longer have to settle for suboptimal solutions. With our unique manufacturing process we are able to create custom LED optics with lead times of only a couple of days.
With our smart manufacturing process you are able to work on an iterative basis, where each optic can be slightly different from the previous. This enables you to utilize the full benefits of rapid prototyping. For example, you could order 10 different prototypes for a low cost per unit, and see which optic works best for your project.
Full design freedom
Another benefit of our process is that we can offer full design freedom. You can incorporate freeform shapes without high tooling costs, for example.
From prototyping to manufacturing
The material we use (polyurethane) can be used for optics prototyping, but is also suited for end-user applications. You do not have to alter the manufacturing process when your optical prototypes are approved and ready to be manufactured.
Our unique manufacturing process requires no high upfront investments, like tooling costs. As such, it becomes more appealing to test new, innovative optical designs, without running into budget constraints. You could have a couple of optics manufactured, or thousands. It is all up to you. We have no minimum order quantity and no high tooling costs.
Order your LED optic prototypes
Ready to start your optical prototyping project? We’d love to hear from you! Simply reach out to us for a quote.