In the drive to secure the competitive edge of the lighting industry in Germany over lower-cost suppliers from Asia, it will be vital to come up with technologies that produce light panels in a way that conserves resources whilst remaining cost-efficient. In the "KonFutius" research project, the Fraunhofer IPT and its partners are integrating electronic components into fiber composite plastics with a view to develop a new light panel concept.
Not only does the new panel luminaire consume a mere fraction of energy required by panel luminaires with standard integrated halogen lamps; its manufacturing costs are also 60 percent lower. This will maintain Germany's competitiveness in the long term and, at the same time, reduce the emission of carbon dioxide via efficient production technology.
Within the project, the illuminated panel will be developed in a way that all of the basic conditions required for each individual production step is both resource-efficient and economical in place from the outset.
A base layer will be manufactured from fiber composite plastic in order to create a stable and thin panel frame. The light will be coupled in at the edges by LEDs and distributed homogeneously by a light guide designed in the course of the project. A final diffuser layer will ensure additional homogenization of the decoupled light. The individual layers of the panel, the base layer of FRP, the reflective and light-conducting layer and the diffuser layer are joined together in a continuous process to avoid intermediate steps.
The Fraunhofer IPT integrates the individual process steps in a single system: a double belt press for continuous production of the FRP base layer is combined with a system that prints the conducting tracks on PET substrate. A further module positions electronic components (SMD) on the printed conductor paths. The different functional layers are then joined together in a plastic welding process.
This project was funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) (reference number: EFRE-0801653)