Your Guide to Materials

Posted by Briana Lipor on 6/3/20 9:00 AM


Assessing materials is an essential part of the design process and one of the key elements that can make or break your project. Not only is choosing the right material necessary but the finish is just as important to produce a great design plan. 

Fabricated reflectors present a wide variety of design options, and their versatility makes them ideal solutions for nearly every lighting challenge. However, design is only part of the equation. Reflector manufacturability must be carefully considered to avoid performance blunders like poor fit and finish, as well as higher production costs and slower time to market. 




Aluminum is an all around well performing metal in the lighting industry, with a variety of finishes to enhance optical performance. It is also lightweight, with a low density and great strength to weight ratio. Another advantage of aluminum is its excellent corrosion resistance and its high percentage of recyclability. Housing the largest inventory of pre-anodized aluminum in North America, we carry inventory of Alanod, Almeco, ACA and White Optics among others. In addition to the pre-anodized aluminum, we offer a wide variety of services to ensure our customers get exactly what they want. Steel is another material option and is used when you are looking for strength on a project. An important factor to keep in mind when choosing steel is to properly choose the surface finish: galvanization, paint etc. 

There are a large variety of finishes available today, and each affects performance in its own way. For example, an array of LED sources can have visible hot spots that need to be reduced to produce a more even effect. In that case, a linear fluorescent lamp may need to be redirected to focus the output for a specific application.

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 material, 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. 



When photometric requirements have been determined, there are three materials-related decisions to make:

Thickness and Strength:

• Choose materials that provide appropriate thickness  and strength to support components

• UL or other code requirements may mandate using materials  of a certain minimum thickness

• Use materials that are easily available in the desired thickness,  strength and finish – you’ll save time and money

Material Orientation:

• Pay attention to the grain direction or pattern orientation of a specified finish

• Photometry with specific material orientation needs will impact the material  selected and manufacturing process used.


• Provides material stiffness

• Materials with an embossed or textured pattern will be structurally  stronger than those that are flat.


There’s a fair amount to think about as you start a lighting project, and that’s why the best approach is to talk with your supplier early on. This way they can offer guidance that can save you time and money – and ensure a successful project. Get their input on light source and shape, the structure of the assembly and the materials used for both the structure and the finish, and you’ll get practical solutions that address your needs – and align with your budget and timeline. If you have a lighting or reflective component project or are looking for a supplier that can give you insight into how form and function impact your design, contact  us at and let us show you the light.



Topics: Reflector Materials, Fabricated Reflectors, Material for Segmented Reflectors, ANODIZED ALUMINUM, Reflective Material