Tucana Lights Pvt. Ltd. is a research driven start-up with a sole focus on designing, engineering and manufacturing premium LED lighting products. It designs and manufactures superior quality luminaries for industrial and architectural purposes. It has an in-house design studio that creates original designs for its luminaries. The company prides itself in bringing in some out-of-the-box innovations in the LED lighting industry. With over 24 patents in its name, Tucana tries its best to come out with products that have been aesthetically designed to perform. It has patents in the fields of effective thermal management (including Heat tube based thermal dissipation system for all high power LEDs), optics, ingress protection, luminary assembly and constant current driver technology. The company claims that it uses superior quality LED chips from world’s most reliable manufacturers such as Osram, Cree or Nichia. In a one-to-one interaction with LED World team, Mahesh Mohatta, the company’s Director & Co-founder, gives an insight into its past, present and future. Excerpts are here to follow:
What is the significance of your company’s name and its relationship with your company’s profile?
The name Tucana is inspired by the colorful South American bird called Toucan. Toucan is also the root used to name constellation called Tucana. A big part of our philosophy has come from this. It is our belief that our lights should not be just about illumination but also adding beauty and amusement to the surroundings even when they are not lit up.
Please throw light on your company’s philosophy and the idea behind its inception.
Before Tucana, we were into manufacturing of large, professional-grade aquariums that house different types of colorful fishes. Our love for colour came from these marine life aquariums. Aquarium and fishes need bright sunlight to show their natural joyful and attractive character. We initially used metal halide lamps, but those were prone to failure besides being energy guzzlers and excessive heat generators.
It was then that we began our research to design and develop high-powered LED lighting system, which proved to be the most efficient for this purpose. We started developing high power Aquarium LED lights in 2011 and had good early success. During the course of journey, it became evident, that the lights, we were developing, have a much better future in industry rather than aquariums. This changed our focus, and in 2015, Tucana Lights Private Limited was born.
Please give us a glimpse of your journey that led to Tucana?
Creating beautiful, robust and efficient lighting has always been our focus. Our lights are unique and each of them is patented. We started from scratch, and today there are a total of four distinct product families, 20 sub-families and more than 250 variants. Initially, we had a 2D design studio, which was later matured into highly advanced 3D design studio. This gave us the power to convert our imagination into reality with better predictability. We started investing heavily in our tooling and making our own patented dyes. Not too many lighting companies in India indulge in this, as the process is expensive, time consuming and fraught with danger of failures.
Which all types of lights are you manufacturing? Which is the first light you made?
We primarily make high power, high performance industrial lights and a wide range of architectural lights. In 2014, we became serious about the industrial lighting business. To start with, we first designed a 400mm deep parabolic light with 75 W, the engineering of which was very difficult to master. However, the resultant product was amazingly attractive. This motivated us to take a deeper plunge. Our focus sharpened towards developing efficient bay light. This light has a unique technology wherein reflector was made to function as the heat sink which, in turn, makes the whole package compact, efficient and does away with vestigial parts. We filled multiple patents for this first innovation. This first innovation gave us the confidence to go the unexplored path, and create unique lighting products.
What is your company’s design philosophy for architectural and industrial lights?
Our core philosophy is that we will only make original products with fresh thinking. Every light we build must meet high level end point of functionality, aesthetics and robustness.
When it comes to designing architectural lights, apart from above design philosophies, we want our lights to be sculptured, delightfully colourful, attention grabbing, amusing and surely high performance.
Which all lights from Tucana are based on heat-tube system?
When we were in the process of designing this light, we got in touch with senior scientists from IISc, Bangalore. They studied our lights and suggested super efficient way of heat emission through heat tubes. It’s a technology over which mainframe or super computers have been built. It’s also a critical rocket science technology to keep rockets from burning out from the heat they produce. Heat tubes pack evaporative fluids in partial vacuum. When one end receives heat, the vapour phase absorbs heat and transmits it upwards, at rates up to 100 times faster than copper.
The objective for us was to ensure seamless heat transfer from LED to the reflector and to heat pipes in shortest distance in the shortest possible time. Thus, we started working on the same and invented in-situ heat tube system, which is far more direct than conventional heat tube insert systems. There is a proprietary process to fill the tube with evaporative fluid in partial vacuum. In the process, we designed and engineered numerous components for seamless integration. All this made it important to protect this efficient technology with patents at multiple levels. The positive point of this heat tube technology is its life which is expected to last for at least 15-20 years without any deterioration in functioning. Using this technology, we have developed the biggest LED high bay lights with 200W. This can be made in 500 watt and even 1000 watt lighting system. These are meant for extreme applications like airport hangars, high roof factories, stadium lighting etc.
Over the years, LED technology will improve and heat emission will go down. Will this technology have any relevance then?
Yes! As LED chips get more efficient and reduce heat output, our heat tube bodies would be able to pack higher wattages, or the smaller bodies would become suitable for higher level of wattages.
The heat tube based technology is our USP. We have a tight control on its cost. We are able to give these lights at just a little premium over conventional technologies. We don’t expect any other player to import and imbibe this technology into India due to its high cost. As far as future prospect is concerned, since the raw material cost across the world is market driven, not much will change in its costing.
Please tell us about your jelly dome and ball and socket light innovations.
Jellydome light from parabola family is another attractive innovative product from Tucana. This is yet another family which is patented. We have filled multiple patents for our innovation which helps us to fit a heat transmitting module in parabolic shapes. This helps us give higher wattages in parabolic lights up to 60 watt, whereas the competition has to settle with 5-15 watt bulb. We have been able to efficiently use the aluminum shells of our parabolic lights as heat sinks. This keeps the light clean of any additional heat sink, yet, is able to give great wattages.
We have added another innovation to our parabolic lights by creating a robust ball and socket 360 degree movement fitting. This is a robust and fascinating innovation, which took us a year to perfect and bring desired smoothness of movement. This is fitted with our jelly dome lights for wall mounting and ceiling mounting fixtures.
What made you to introduce colours in your lighting?
Nature has made a very colourful world. Just like numerous people across the world, we too have always been fascinated with colours. After we designed our initial lights, we started thinking that our lights would look even more beautiful with colours. After a lot of trials, we found out that silicon paints would be the best for our lights. These paints are quite expensive and it’s an art to perfect them on aluminum. We are sourcing it from a US-based company, for whom we were the first and only client in the lighting space.
How do you ensure that the paint doesn’t fade away easily?
Our paint is thin film at 20-35 micron and baked at 280 degrees, which is a minimum four-hour process. With this kind of heat treatment, the paint lasts forever. We wanted to create lights which are forever classical and even after 20-30 years they are admired for a perfect blend of functionality & beauty. Our Architectural product designs are sculptured and colourful, yet they never fade. They are always classical and forever amusing. The beauty is always blended with functionality, and high performance. .
How do you manage the heat dissipation in your various lighting systems?
We use multiple technologies and our patented designs give most efficient heat dissipation on our various lighting systems.
Our parabolic lights have an internal tight fit insert, which transmit heat to the external body. This has a high surface heat sink aluminum, which also doubles up as a reflector and body.
Our linear light is again patented, having the entire body as finned and it works as a super sleek but robust heat sink.
Our bay light uses reflector as primary heat sink, and then there is a secondary heat sink.
And finally, we have our super efficient and rugged heat tube based lights, which use heat tubes for very high power LED lighting systems.
What makes your lights long lasting?
First and foremost is our design philosophy. Every element and its integration, end to end, is done in such a manner that they last forever. All our fastening components are in SS or brass, so they will never corrode. We use engineering plastics like glass filled nylon and Bayers’ optical grade, UV-resistant polycarbonate. We use Teflon wires, best quality LEDs, metal core PCB, and drivers from leading Indian and German companies. Thus, we never compromise on any quality parameter.
Can these lights be used in private residences too?
Well, of course! People can use these lights in their homes too. There is a perception that bay lights are too bright for this purpose. People think that houses should be lit up with lights having low lux but it is a misconception. We need an optimum 400-500 lux to be comfortable inside our homes, be it drawing room or bedroom. Our bodies are tuned to fall asleep when there is low lux and we get into the sleep mode. The same applies to offices as well. Our lights are currently going in to premium architectural and industrial settings.
How do you market these lights?
We are just a three year old growing company. We do not have a very strong marketing backup as yet. We have been receiving numerous offers from big companies to become OEMs for them. But that doesn’t fit in our ambition. We are keen to take forward our own brand name. Our lights are for premium, high performance segment. For now, these lights go through premium dealers, who have their own contact of architects to whom these lights go on demand.
What are the future plans of Tucana?
We want to be an international premium lighting player offering high end customisable lights for marquee projects all over the world. We also want to commercialise our high performance industrial lights for off-the-shelf purchase.
We are also looking for funding partners who can help the company grow faster. We are now working on enhancing our production. We have a great portfolio as of now and our R&D team is highly capable of innovating or bringing in new technology. Establishing unique products in premium markets would remain our core focus.