One of the most commonly asked questions we get is, “What materials should we look at using for this reflector?”
In today’s materials environment, there are several choices that can be made concerning materials. Each have their own advantages and limitations. Today we are going to zero in and discuss one of those choices, Anodized Aluminum. Aluminum is one of the most durable and versatile of metals. Anodizing is an electrochemical process in which the aluminum on the surface is converted to a decorative, durable, corrosion-resistant, anodic oxide finish. The aluminum oxide is not applied to the surface like a paint or coating, but is fully integrated into the underlying aluminum substrate.
Currently, there are more than 50+ varieties of finishes available (not including material textures or colors) for Anodized Aluminum. The options range from highly specular finishes to very diffused finishes, even asymmetrical choices to help overcome specific design issues. All aluminum materials can be color anodized.
Aluminum components can be easily interchanged by swapping one material finish for another finish and often does not require any tooling or process changes to accomplish this. By varying the material finishes, it is possible to change reflector performance and appearance when needed. In effect, you can have different versions of the reflector for different optical situations, such as different light sources or distribution requirements.
Temperature Tolerance and Heat Dissipation
Aluminum based materials are known quantities when it comes to standing up to heat and cold. While there are a few coatings on some versions that are temperature restricted, the upper temperatures at which the reflective properties will begin to fail are in the 510°C/950°F range. Aluminum is an excellent heat conductor and dissipates heat very efficiently. It is the most common heat sink material used.
Tooling – No Tooling
With few exceptions, aluminum reflectors can be manufactured without the need for hard tooling, reducing overall costs associated with the production of parts.
Prototypes and Production Start-up Costs
Most aluminum reflectors can be prototyped and produced as short run components without the need for hard tooling. Production can remain without tooling, or begin to transition to a more economical process as needed depending on the quantities required, this gives you the option of running lower production quantities without additional costs.
Longevity and Cleanability
Anodized Aluminum has a very long useful life cycle. Aluminum holds up well to UV, Cold, Heat and Salt Spray. Scars and wear from fabrication, handling and usage are virtually non-existent. It can be easily cleaned by conventional cleaning methods like rinsing with mild soap and water to restore the anodized surface to it's original appearance. It is not uncommon to see aluminum reflective finishes lasting 25 years or more.
Most anodized parts have an extremely long life span. Reflectors manufactured from aluminum are strong at holding the optical shape and maintaining performance over a wide variety of environmental conditions.
It’s Green (100% Recyclable)
Aluminum does not burn or produce smoke, meets building codes for fire and smoke prevention and is completely recyclable. Also, since the anodizing process replicates the naturally occurring oxide process, it is non-hazardous and produces no harmful or dangerous by-products.
As you can see, Anodized Aluminum has a lot going for it when it comes to advantages for use as a reflective material in the Lighting Industry. As the Gold Standard for reflector manufacturers in North America, RCI has been working with Anodized Aluminum products since our inception. We stock more varieties of Anodized Aluminum materials than anyone in North America and have over 30+ years of Corporate Knowledge in the design, engineering and manufacturing of Anodized Aluminum Reflectors.
Give RCI a call at 262-605-0500 or use our contact form or email us at email@example.com and let’s talk about how we can help you, design, develop and manufacture tailored reflectors for your Lighting application.