At Reflective Concepts, because each reflector we manufacturer is unique to each individual customer and their individual projects, we come across a lot of questions every day. In this week's blog post we are going to go over some of our most commonly asked questions to help you with your next project.
Why is prototyping important for product success?
Rapid prototyping allows you to move beyond the mere visualization of a product, making it easier to grasp the properties and design of a product. Prototyping should be an integral part of any manufacturing organization's product plan. The benefits of speed iteration, improving design quality, lowering costs, providing a tool to evaluate the market and going to market quickly provide more efficient development which will result in better products with better profits and revenue. The greatest benefit of prototyping is the ability to test various part concepts quickly. This helps eliminate costly mistakes, improves the quality of the design and allows more valuable iteration cycles of concept to prototype.
How can I improve the design of an existing reflector?
When taking a look at an existing fabricated reflect you should focus on two things- complexity and features. By breaking these categories into distinct areas of focus, you can make decisions that are purposeful and cost-effective without having to compromise aesthetic.
You may discover legacy features that are no longer relevant. Perhaps features were included in the original prototype that never translated to design, or maybe some existing options have been discontinued. By re-familiarizing yourself with the existing fabricated reflector, you can cull out unnecessary items and expense. Multi-faceted reflectors may also present needless design complications. If the facets could be combined into a single rolled shape, production improvements are immediately realized. The rolled shape is less expensive to produce and the many sharp facets bends can be entirely avoided to speed production time. The same holds true for assembly fit and finish, small shape adjustments could make a big difference. The impact of hole and cutout reduction on design simplification is obvious, but consider performance. Eliminating holes and cutouts means increasing reflective area that, in turn, boosts overall design efficiency. If you can get by with fewer holes and cutouts you’ll gain a dual benefit of potential production cost savings and maximum reflector functionality. Adding features can make it easier to accomplish downstream operations.
Do I need a reflector with an LED light source?
Each individual lighting project has its unique needs. Tailored reflectors are designed to accommodate the wide range of photometric needs, making all applications—from the very specific to the very general—equally successful. The size, shape, and reflective material of a tailored reflector are specifically tailored to optimize lighting performance. Using a tailored reflector allows you to design the reflector to your specific LED board requirements. A tailored reflector allows you to fit the reflector to your specific housing, not have to “wedge” in a standard reflector. If your housing is part of your overall brand appearance, this becomes very important. Using a tailored reflector can help to maximize your overall design and enhance rather than limit the impact of the fixture itself. Tailored reflectors can be used to optimize your fixture’s performance, standard reflectors provide standard results. Tailored reflectors allow you to choose materials for their photometric properties in line with your performance requirements.
How do I choose a material for my reflector?
The light source is most often the starting point when choosing the right reflective material. Each light source has its own unique operating characteristics. It pays to know how different sizes and shapes of light sources affect how people, objects and surfaces will appear when illuminated. When selecting the right materials, your specific project needs are key. What usually drives optical decisions is the total reflectance and optical performance. The reflective properties of a material go beyond just reflecting light; it's also about how a material reflects that light. Some reflective materials feature high image clarity (like in a mirror), while others have a very soft, diffused image. Both materials reflect the same amount of light, but reflect it differently.
The photometric pattern (the actual shape of the light output) is another important factor to consider when selecting the reflective material. Photometric analysis is the most precise and comprehensive approach to light projects. Light is inherently difficult to control, but modern lighting software in combination with a good reflector make it possible to accurately map a project space.
Once your optical properties – light source and shape of light output – are determined, the mechanical and thermal properties can be addressed. Mechanical considerations are primarily structural in nature. The reflector must maintain its own shape integrity and has to hold any other components required. Thicker materials are generally stronger and more durable, however the shape of the structure and the technique used to assemble it also contribute to the overall strength of the assembly.
At Reflective Concepts, we are the leaders in tailored reflectors, whether segmented or spun. Offering rapid prototyping and low volume production to high volme production for the lighting industry, let RCI answer your questions and help you with you next project.
Contact us at 866-276-6242.