Additive Manufacturing Strategies

3D Printed Lighting is Both Attractive and Eco-Friendly

ST Medical Devices

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Most people see in-home lighting as more than just something to keep their rooms illuminated – it’s also part of the decor, and there are thousands if not millions of differently designed lamps and fixtures out there on the market to choose from. More and more people are beginning to prioritize energy-efficient lighting, as well, whether that’s in the form of fluorescent bulbs or LEDs. Stylish and energy-efficient are definitely not mutually exclusive; it’s easy to find lighting that offers both, and that’s exactly what a new type of 3D printed light created by an Australian partnership does.

Product designers from Swinburne University of Technology‘s School of Design have teamed up with Victoria-based lighting company LimeLite to create an energy-efficient lighting range that is also attractive to look at. LimeLite CEO Paul Hearne approached Professor Blair Kuys, Chair of Swinburne’s Department of Interior Architecture and Industrial Design, with the idea of creating a range of 3D printed plastic luminaire housings that incorporate advanced electronics.

The two organizations teamed up, but didn’t know much about 3D printing and commercial production, so they spent more than 11 months conducting market research and materials trials at Swinburne. Their work resulted in OnTrack, a new line of lighting whose unusual geometric shapes show off the capabilities of 3D printing.

“Without the Swinburne team this range simply wouldn’t have occurred,” said Hearne. “We are very excited about the OnTrack range and its great export potential.”

Until 2015, LimeLite relied on simple-geometry folded metal and injection molded luminaires, but for the OnTrack line, the company invested in 30 Zortrax 3D printers and created a 3D printing production facility within its existing space, hiring a full-time staff member dedicated solely to 3D printing. Each light is made from a unique blend of ABS and other ingredients, created to suit the specific requirements of the track luminaire housings. The material is self-extinguishing and resistant to extreme heat, meeting strict luminaire design standard requirements. Each light can take between 10 to 30 hours to 3D print.

“The most exciting part of this project was creating truly unique designs without the manufacturing constraints of plastic injection moulded parts,” said Kuys. “3D printing allows complex geometries to be created unlike injection moulding. Using 3D printers also avoids massive investment in retooling, and low risk of an expensive, unpopular design languishing on the shelf. If no one orders it, it simply doesn’t get printed.”

Judging from the look of the designs, these lights are unlikely to be unpopular. They’re stylish and attractive, with shapes and colors that can either complement or match any interior, in either black or white. They come in five different shapes: The Jet, Disco, Elegance, The Lantern or The Petal. Each light can be customized with not only housing and color but by the shade, size and shape of the light beam itself. The LimeLite OnTrack range was released in October and each light is made to order.

You can learn more about the OnTrack range here, and customize and place your own order if you wish.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Source: Swinburne University of Technology]

 

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