Creating a functional display with rapid prototyping

Summary of the project

ESCATEC launched its Heat Spreader solution to the challenge of effectively cooling high brightness LEDs at the LED Professional Symposium 2015 in Bregenz, Austria on 22-24 September 2015. Thanks to the use of the fast prototyping process of Luxexcel, ESCATEC was able to show a functional demonstrator at the show including tailored optics.

The challenge

ESCATEC’s Heat Spreader solution solders the LEDs onto a copper substrate, which is up to ten times more effective at dissipating the heat generated by the LEDs than current solutions. The Heat Spreader was developed in ESCATEC’s FutureLab where novel and innovative solutions are developed for LED applications. Shaping the beam directly on top of the LED die would minimize the losses and increase the optical efficiency. However, getting custom optics available in days at affordable cost is extremely challenging. Also, when looking forward to the upcoming LED professional event – where ESCATEC intends to launch its inventive solution – the overall timeframe was very tight with no room for risky trials.

Problem definition

Heat dissipation is always a challenge for LEDs as their compact size means that the LEDs can be packed close together to form a powerful illumination source. But that also forms a highly concentrated heat source. On the contrary to conventional solutions, the new ESCATEC Heat Spreader opens up compact, high power LEDs to be used in many new applications such as stage lighting, architectural illumination and video projectors.

Choosing from ‘off-the-shelf” optics solutions only would make the novel ESCATEC solution less powerful in use, simply because the LED source and optic not match perfectly. Investing in custom optics manufacturing tooling was a necessary next step to consider, however the upfront tooling cost, long lead times would avoid them from doing a successful job, at least in time for the upcoming LpS2015 event where they would launch the Heat Spreader. Having custom optics available in days however is a challenge in today’s engineering world.

The Solution

After reaching out to Luxexcel, ESCATEC managed to get the lens part to be iterated and 3D printed in a very short timeframe of only 5 business days from order entry towards delivery.

The functional collimator lens was placed directly over the LED die. By starting from the bare LED die, ESCATEC can customize the solution with regards to the size of the package, the shape of the beam so that there are minimal losses, and the wavelength of the light along with its intensity. This freedom of design enables the LED solution to be highly efficient, appropriately cooled and optimised for the required power consumption. It also enables the lens or lens array to be custom made to provide the exact optics required by the application and ensures that design can be compact with high optical efficiency.

About ESCATEC

The ESCATEC Group provides fully-integrated electronic and mechatronic design and manufacturing solutions to assist companies in achieving success in their specific markets. ESCATEC’s one-stop solutions and best-in-class service enable companies around the world to operate more profitably, sustainably and efficiently. Founded in 1974, the ESCATEC history is full of innovation which made them a first choice partner for many European and North American OEM’s. The Swiss-owned company perfectly blends Swiss business philosophy and attention to quality, precision and detail with the advantage of low-cost, mass-volume manufacturing capabilities in its Asian factories.

The ESCATEC engineers and project managers work closely and conveniently with its customers’ European based design teams to ensure the best possible level of support for product development and prototyping. They provide for a seamless transfer of manufacturing capability to our Malaysian manufacturing plants where the high volume production lines are located.

The ESCATEC team is selected as a finalist for the ELEKTRA awards 2015. ESCATEC is nominated in the category Design team of the Year.

Unique project features

  • No Upfront Investments: Thanks to the zero need for tooling, no working capital was lost to molds or tooling parts;
  • Iterative Design Processing: although the print job was not doable right after receipt of the CAD file, the fast interactions between the ESCATEC and Luxexcel team - including some iterative design processing work - turned the part quickly into a printable and functional solution;
  • Ordering on Demand: No minimum order quantities or commitments were required and no stock keeping is involved, enabling ESCATEC to order in exact quantities as needed;
  • Fast Delivery: Following the very short lead time of only 5 business days, ESCATEC got the custom parts delivered in days rather than weeks or even months, enabling them to quickly build the show demonstrator and do a fast and effective job.

The fast and flexible Luxexcel prototyping process enabled us to create customized optics for our LpS2015 Heat spreader demonstrator with delivery of the parts in a very short timeframe.

Wolfgang Plank, Manager FutureLab, Escatec Switzerland AG

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