Buoyed by the expanse of business potential, foreign technology players are now offering components that match typical Indian conditions, even the Optics for LEDs.
LEDs first were used nearly half a century ago as a replacement for incandescent indicator lamps on electronic equipment. They soon found applications in displays, signage, and later general illumination. Thanks to advances in semiconductors, optics, materials, and manufacturing, LEDs have progressed in light output, energy efficiency, cost effectiveness, ruggedness, and colour options. As a result, LED applications have grown exponentially, and fixtures are now available for industrial lighting applications, helping to fill the void left by the phase-out of mercury-vapour ballasts and lamps and metal-halide (MH) luminaires.
With rapid stride that the development is taking place in the world of illumination, it is evident that LED is poised to become the dominant technology for all kinds of applications be it industrial, commercial, residential or general-purpose lighting.
Meanwhile, achieving high light levels to meet the surging requirements at the lowest possible energy input is becoming critical as energy costs rise. It’s not very far but only a decade ago that LED with 75-lm/W efficacy was considered as the groundbreaking achievement. The continuous upgradation in technology has made this value pale because the new chips have been developed to offer an efficacy above 200 lm/W. With this much efficacy if an end user replaces even a first-generation LED product can achieve savings of more than 50%.
With all these developments on the fore, India is eying a majority of its light sources to be replaced with LEDs by 2020 thus implicating guaranteed business for the technology players irrespective of being local or overseas. No wonder, quite a few foreign players are entering with zeal to make the most of the opportunities prevailing in the India as a market for LED lighting. When it comes to LEDs, we all know that optic(s) is one of the most important elements of an LED luminaire. These thin layers made generally of polycarbonate or silicon, facilitate LED light sources to focus and mix the light created thereby to shape in a wide flood light, a narrow spot, or an elliptical wall grazer. Well-designed optics.
Generally speaking, LED luminaires often use more than one type of optics. Many LED fixtures use both a primary and secondary optic. The primary optic is built in to the LED itself, and usually takes the form of a small dome on top of the device. This is designed to maximise the useful light output of the LED, and provides the basic beam shape of the fixture. Secondary optics, such as TIR lenses or reflectors are then used to shape the light, typically making the beam narrower. Secondary optics are crucial for colour mixing luminaires because they determine how well the colours mix. There are quite a few technology players that use a third optic i.e. holographic beam shapers (HBS), which provide even more control over the beam angle and colour mixing compared to relying on secondary optics.are also critical for getting the most efficient performance from a luminaire, and for mixing colours effectively.
India – An Inviting Turf
In the quest for what’s there in the market as of now, we, at LED World, met a few optics manufacturers and suppliers to know how the market for optics is shaping up in an already illuminated world, which is only striding to enhance lumens per watt so as to increase its brightness to reach to a required level.
All this reminds me of one such meeting with Michael Peng, Vice President of HercuLux Optoelectronics Technology Co., Ltd., the RMB 20.18-million-Chinese company that boasts on its modern enterprise dedicated to providing professional secondary optical match schemes for the LED lighting. “We adhere to the concepts of ‘integrity & win-win’ and are firmly committed to diligently pursue innovation quality to provide first class products and best services for our valuable customers. We are willing to partner and cooperate with enterprises and manufacturers from this future-proof market like India,” said Peng.
Sensing the abundance of opportunities that Indian market is offering, numerous optics manufacturers and suppliers from around the globe are eying their respective spaces. Apart from Herculux Optoelectronics, we met Darkoo Optics Co., Ltd., GR Optics Co., Ltd. and Syratron Technologies Pvt. Ltd. that was representing Korean Optics manufacturer, AnyCasting Co., Ltd.
According to Danny Hong, CEO, Darkoo Optics Co., Ltd., the company has quite a few major players from the Indian lighting industry in its clientele. “We are an expert company engaged in carrying on the exploitation of the optical lens of spherical surface and non-spherical surface processing, LED lens, optical moulds, and accurate plastic moulds. Our products’ quality meets international standard as we export to global destinations such as Europe, America, Australia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other geographies,” informed Hong.
Hong adds that when it comes to deriving solutions for the spherical surface and non-spherical surface lens applications and the LED lens applications, the company has many years experience in design, mould exploitation and manufacture. “As long as the clients offer the specifications like drawing, sample or the draft and idea of the necessary products to us, we can imitate and design, and open the mould from optics, setting one package service for injection moulding or offer the best design project of the products as needed,” assured Hong.
Going further, Zhongshan GR Optics Co., Ltd. claims to be a leading manufacturer of optics in China. “We are here in India for more than five years. GR Optics is the one of the companies engaged in researching, developing and producing LED reflectors and optical lenses. Our company have a highly experienced R&D team for high-tech optical and mould designs,” said Jay Z, the company’s General Manager.
Jay Z informed that the company boasts on ultra-precision mould making equipment, injection moulding machines and a 3,000 square meters dust-free workshop which houses an LED optical accessories production system including independently design, research, manufacture and moulding. “For lens, we use quality raw materials imported from Japan for producing the best products to be shipped to various geographic locations across the world including India,” he added.
Another lens/optics manufacturer that we met was AnyCasting Co., Ltd. The Korean technology player that claims to be a comprehensive solution company, and has been at the top in the domestic LED lighting optics. Represented in India by Syratron Technologies Pvt. Ltd., AnyCasting is positioned differently than those which are awaiting trade partners in India and are relying on a few discrete importers feeding their respective clients.
According to Harish Waghela, Country Manager, Syratron Technologies Pvt. Ltd., the company offers access to the Indian high-tech market together with a wealth of experience, business strategies, market information and data to its international partners. “To the Indian customers, the company offers an avenue to explore, identify and source high quality, cutting edge technologies and products from different parts of the world for development and production programs,” he explained.
Products on Offer
The players entering in to India have a gamut of products in their respective portfolios when it comes to offering and meeting typical requirements of the Indian market. While most of them agree that the scope for the optical solutions for outdoors especially for street lighting is visible and is aplenty, the indoor lighting application has more of an ambiguity like situation for now. A huge market is in waiting when it comes to indoor applications of LED lighting as the areas are wide and unexplored, and hence, untapped. The lighting giants though are coming up with solutions which are more of discrete ones; the market is yet to be exploited to its latent potentials. While sharing their views, all the players had almost same opinion with a little bit of difference for the sake of change.
According to Hong, customer-orientation and advanced technology have brought Darkoo the worldwide trust and support which the company proud on. The company offers lens or optics in both the materials polycarbonate and silicon. “Based on our high-tech innovation, we are committed to offering first-class products and best solutions to Indian markets to help us create more values for our customers. We develop specific products depending upon the specific requirements of the customers besides, offering a hefty of standard optics for downlighters, spot lights, under-water lights, street lights, etc.,” he said.
As of now, the company’s portfolio comprises numerous odd products including reflectors that have their own roles when it comes to shape the lights of LED fixtures. “We are getting good response for our products from Indian market and the volume would help us decide if we can set-up a factory here,” shared Hong.
Jay Z takes it as an opportunity like never before. GR Optics has developed very good repo with its Indian customers and look forward to an elongated relationship keeping in view the expanse of the LED lighting market and typical requirements. We develop customised optics for our Indian customers but we do have standard ones that have gained good clientele-base owing to the quality and reliability which have been proved in the last five years of our association with them. With the experience earned over the years in developing and designing optics, we are sure of feeding the market like India with products that we can develop based on the specifications provided by our clients. For this we have dedicated team of 15 engineers backed by 100% automated manufacturing setup,” he averred.
When it comes to AnyCasting, Waghela suggested that based on the know-how attained over the years of experience regarding customised design and moulding technology, AnyCasting has been able to develop and produce a variety of lenses optimised for each lighting environment meeting the typicality of Indian conditions. “AnyCasting’s Ture Colour Lens series is the product of optical design optimised for different user environment and offer a wide range of high quality standard products and optical lenses that can be suitable for outdoor lighting including streetlights/ roadways, floodlights, lights for landscape, stadiums, and other public spaces like airports and marines,” he informed adding that the company has emerged as the total solution provider, supplying optical lenses for LED lighting applications to clients across the world.
He further added, “Being applied to various products designed for LED lighting for wide range of applications, the optical design of the products under True Colour series is optimised with ultra precision moulding for different users’ environments. The company will keep adding new products to this series continuously.” According to him, the specialised lens design techniques are based on the latest plastic moulding technology to offer high-quality with micro and nano-patterned optical lenses. Apart from that the company has also come up with NEMA Lens, which offers two times more luminance than the optics currently available in the market.
Waghela further added that AnyCasting has general as well as speciality lenses. “The TIR lenses are compact and provide superior optical quality with minimum colour temperature differences. The efficiency has been increased for varied applications. Similarly, the streetlight lenses, offering diverse solutions, are suitable for a variety of outdoor environment and installation conditions. There are lenses for security lights, expressways and tunnels facilitating optimal lighting solutions.”
When it comes to speciality lights, AnyCasting offers aspheric plastic projection lenses for automobile’s headlights addressing the issues of glass lenses. Patterned nanostructures with a DMTC (Digital Moulding Temperature Control System) are applied to the indoor lights lens surface to create a pleasant and beautiful visual effect. It also supplies specialty lenses for marine and construction lights,” he said.
Optics Efficiency – Up To 100%
That again reminds me of Peng who then elaborate on how creative street lamp lenses with a deflection angle and road lighting are designed based on the free surface boundary integration technology, completely overthrowing the traditional ‘Peanut’ design and becoming an object imitated by various lens manufacturers. According to him, the indoor spotlight lenses are firstly designed with calculus technology solutions to thoroughly solve the dazzle and glare of LED.
“The lenses are now designed with adaptive colloid technology solutions to break the standard limit of 92% lens efficiency and going beyond to produce 100% luminous efficacy. Some lenses are designed with defocus technology solutions to solve the defect light source on the light-emitting surfaces of such products as CREE’s XTE LED so that this LED light source can be applied in all lights except for bulbs,” Peng explained.
The creative street lamp lenses with a deflection angle and road lighting are designed based on the free surface boundary integration technology, completely overthrowing the traditional ‘Peanut’ design and becoming an object imitated by various lens manufacturers. Normally, there are three components that can help enhance the efficiency of an LED lighting product – the LED chip, the driver and the lens.
According to Peng, for achieving 100% lens efficiency, Herculux uses ZMAX, a data-based design software that produces accurate design without any probability of adjustment like other software frequently requires. “For using ZMAX, we must know the basic parameters like alloying resource and the size. Once all these are accumulated, help us develop a comparatively very long equation to calculate and eventually create the final design of lenses, which do not need any tests or adjustments like other software used for the purpose require.”
Now that the technology has been developed to achieve 100% efficiency, guaranteeing 93% is not a wonder anymore. However, this still is a remarkable achievement for quite a few technology players. “Though our products meet 93% efficiency on an average, we guarantee 90% for all our products making sure that our customers should feel at surplus. As I told, the automated facility enables us to deliver consistent quality, which is further aided with the high-quality imported raw materials that we use to produce the optics. Since our products go to many overseas destinations including China, India, USA, Brazil, Germany, Spain, England, and Japan, we can’t afford to lose the trusts of our valued customers,” said JayZ.
The sentiments were similar from the other two suppliers as the customers’ base is huge and any deterioration in the quality of output may cause to lose an important market. “We, at Darkoo, supply to the top ten LED lighting players in India, which do not allow us to play with the quality. We can only guarantee the best as at this point in time; we are yet to explore the market which is still opening up with much potential to be tapped. For our lenses, we offer 90-95% efficiency to our customers, which we think is satisfactory keeping in view the rapidly evolving LED technology. However, we have the scope to improve ourselves which we would materialise sometime in near future,” suggested Hong.
Hong further added that at Darkoo, offer includes big and small size, single-head, multiple-head, concave, convex, stripe, cross, honey comb, different angles of the LED optical lensesand many styles of bracket sets – all at reasonable price with excellent quality. “The raw materials used to produce lenses are originally optical PMMA from Mitsubishi Japan to make sure the optical penetration rate of the products is 90% above.”
For AnyCasting, Waghela insisted that the technology from Korea is proven still the company makes sure to offer the best of the time. “As you know, we have renowned Indian lighting brands in our clientele to whom we are currently offering 93% optical efficiency for our optics, and that it would remain consistent. These are high-performance asymmetrical lenses that provide high overall longitudinal illuminance uniformity. This makes us different from many other suppliers as maintaining the efficiency is a bit challenging and depends upon the quality of raw materials being used to produce optics,” he opined adding that the market, however, is wide open and inviting for quality players.
As far as business prospects in India is concerned, it is evident that at present the Indian LED lighting market lacks volumes and even if the company brings the chip solution here, it will be too advanced at this stage. Peng suggests that at Herculux, technology is the supreme and there won’t be any compromise on quality for price. “We do not want to play with the trusts of our huge clientele base out there in China, and India as a market is no different for us. For now, we did some research work and studied the options available from the competitors,” he said, indicating if the company achieves the targeted volumes, there may arouse a possibility of setting up a plant here.
Overall, the major chunk of opportunities currently is from street lighting in India. However, as mentioned above, the prospects in indoor is even brighter in time to come which most of the technology players are looking at. “AnyCasting supplies high-quality LED lighting lenses for different applications meeting varied needs of its clients with optical solutions which are compact and suitable for the diverse applications. We look forward to serve the emerging requirements proficiently as our LED lighting solution department is engaged in continuous R&D on ultra precision pattern-applied optical lenses to facilitate clients with high-quality lenses and enable them to achieve their set objectives quickly and efficiently,” informed Waghela while opting out of any probability of setting up a plant in India in near future.
Jay Z stated that initially there were some level of differences, and accordingly, GR Optics did the improvement in the products to cater to the Indian market. “However, as the market is huge and so is the potential, we look forward to gain some ground in the Indian LED lighting industry, which has a lot to offer under the government’s push for the indigenous manufacturing for its ‘Make-In-India’ drive. We know that indoor products are awaiting the needed momentum because indigenous manufacturing is yet to pick up the pace. As of now, these products are sourced from China. We may plan to setup a facility here in the next couple of years,” he implicated.
Darkoo also claims to have a complete set of integrated R&D production base and marketing services network to respond to customers’ demand rapidly, accelerate the order processing, shorten the lead time of production and delivery, reduce the cost of design and development, provide convenient and efficient service and support for customers, and ensure to enhance customers operating efficiency and overall value. All these are much needed to cater to a growth-ridden country like India. With a good business reputation and excellent quality of products and services, we are all set to offer Indian LED lighting industry a high-quality component that is going to be a must,” assured Hong.
“As far as R&D is concerned, following the trend of energy-saving and environmental development, GR optics has technical co-operation with local college and internationally acclaimed brands in the area of LED technology. With all this, the company produces various LED lighting optical accessories which meet the need in all field of LED illumination. We have been cooperating with many well-known domestic lighting enterprises and chip merchants and supply them a series of completed and reliable optical solutions. All these together make us a very reliable choice for our customers in India as well,” he asserted.
There’s no doubt that the future-proof business opportunities would remain the point of attraction for overseas players, especially the manufacturers of LED lighting components, which claim to be the giant in their own respective territories and promise to fulfil the specifications needed for typical Indian environment.
When it comes to optics, these overseas lens manufacturers have myriad of lenses and other secondary optics in their respective kitties and are seemingly capable of meeting the requirements of LED lighting assemblers here in India. All this clearly indicate that we must invite them to setup their facility – either individually or in partnership with Indian entrepreneur or with the government to help ourselves learn the technology of illumination or LED luminance.
While the country’s LED lighting penetration drive induced by lighting transformation is continuously setting new targets, India is still dependent on overseas players for quality components like optics. Major portion of the optics used in ‘Made In India’ LED lighting products are imported providing opportunities for foreign technology players in abundance.
No wonder, we offer them hefty business in almost every technical/electronic component needed to assemble LED lighting products in-house or indigenously for meeting our basic illumination requirements. Though this is not a bad idea at all but the time has arrived that we need to opt for backward integration citing the expanse of business potential in the future.