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Over the last few columns, I’ve given readers pointers on virtually every aspect of potting and encapsulation resins, ranging from their formulations and special properties to their applications, benefits and limitations. It’s probably high time, therefore, to take a step back from the do's and don’ts and focus instead on how these resins are bringing very real benefits to practical electronic and electrical engineering applications. A good starting point is to look at the special requirements of an industry that is enjoying explosive growth: LED lighting.
With this rapid growth, has come a pressing need among LED lighting manufacturers to make the right selections where potting and encapsulation are concerned, to maximise the life and performance of LED lighting units. In short, this comes down to two things: recognising the importance of proper thermal management—including measures to ensure maximum heat dissipation from LED luminaires and lighting assemblies—and understanding how correct resin product selection can have significant impacts upon the aesthetics, ambience, lighting qualities and long-term environmental protection of LED lighting assemblies.
Offering a more efficient and longer-life alternative to halogen, incandescent and fluorescent lighting systems for both interior and exterior applications, as well as providing greater freedom of expression in terms of product design and installation, LED lighting has become a market phenomenon. Expected to grow into a $70 billion industry by 2020, and due to turn its market share from a current 18% to 70% in a little over five years, the LED industry is increasingly turning to companies like mine for solutions to the sorts of problem areas I’ve outlined above. And we have not been slow in responding, as I hope to demonstrate with some recent projects undertaken for a couple of prominent international market players.
The French company Odeli (On Demand Lighting) is a young, dynamic company who provide specialist bespoke LED lighting solutions. They contacted us after receiving an urgent lighting contract for an outdoor sports stadium. They required a resin to encapsulate their design as quickly as possible; it had to protect the LEDs from the environment (rain, wind, dust, etc.) yet be suitable for use in their production process. There were also aesthetic considerations, and a diffuse light was required. The use of a hazy resin can give a diffuse light due to the particles inside the resin causing the light to be scattered, rather than being emitted as a single continuous beam.
To read this entire column, which appeared in the March 2017 issue of The PCB Design Magazine, click here.