Energy efficient lighting is not new to us.
In fact, 2019 marked the fifth year in a row that electricity in the United States decreased, due in part to US electricity consumers replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs.[i] Here at Rogers, we have seen an exponential increase in LED lighting retrofit requests and projects, with a 14% increase from 2015-2019. No industry is excluded: retail, commercial real estate, warehousing and distribution and restaurant.
LED lighting isn’t the only piece of the sustainability puzzle for the electrical industry. Recently, 3D printing has joined the conversation. While the concept and uses of 3D printing aren’t new to us (in fact, it dates back to the 80s), the idea that trade industries can use it to create necessary parts and components is still new. In construction, it can even be used to print entire buildings.
This is just the beginning – in New York, the Lighting Research Center (LRC) has partnered with the Eaton Corporation to develop a fully 3D printed LED-integrated luminaire. Funded by the US Department of Energy, this project aims to overcome “the barriers for the adoption of additive manufacturing technology applied to solid-state lighting (SSL).” Over the next two years, the LRC will conduct research to investigate whether 3D printed luminaire systems can be more cost effective – and more sustainable. Is this possible? Absolutely! 3D printing can be considered a greener manufacturing method because it minimizes the amount of material used, guaranteeing less waste. And as its accessibility continues to grow, the logistics and travel issues are also minimized. [ii]
Imagine being able to order mass quantities of LED bulbs and reducing the lead time, shipping costs, and potential shortage errors… all because you can print the order right in your own warehouse! While this dream may still be a long way off, Eaton and the LRC aren’t the only ones to explore how 3D printing can change the lighting industry. Philips Lighting Telecaster is a new venture that has found great success in 3D printing architectural lighting. The Philips research team in Eindhoven, Netherlands has dramatically increased the speed and lowered the cost of printing their volume of luminaire lines. To date, they have developed numerous styles of fixtures: decorative pendants, track spots, downlight, and even large high-bay fixtures. [iii]
So, what does this mean for the LED lighting industry and the sustainability market? It means new options, better profitability, quicker ROI, and – of course – a huge benefit to the earth. This new movement is definitely one to follow.