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These days, LEDs are key: Not only are they taking the automotive industry by storm due to their energy-saving potential, they also offer a level of design versatility that is crucial to developing a vehicle’s typical appearance. For combination rear lamps especially, manufacturers are exploring the many options available when LEDs are combined with optical systems, creating attractive and distinctive vehicle designs.
An indirect reflector system is an efficient optical system with “invisible” light sources. It can be placed at any angle (horizontal, vertical or inclined) and equipped with a conventional rigid PCB. The structure of an indirect reflector is determined by the distribution and positioning of the LEDs. A specific section of the reflector is assigned to each LED, and individual sections of the reflector are staggered. The LEDs shine onto the reflector from the side, and the reflector deflects their light toward the light exit at an angle of about 90°.
Highly efficient direct reflector systems are the most common type of optical system. In a direct reflector system, the light sources are positioned in a directly visible location in the vertex of the reflector. The system can be placed at any angle (horizontal, vertical or inclined). The structure of a direct reflector is determined by the distribution and positioning of the LEDs. A specific section of the reflector is assigned to each LED. If the PCB is inclined, the positions of the LEDs are staggered, the distances between the LEDs vary or varying reflector geometries are used, the individual sections of the reflector are staggered. The LEDs shine on the rear of the reflector, which deflects their light toward the light exit.
A double reflector system consists of a complex arrangement of reflectors: a larger rear reflector to generate large area background lighting, and a central reflector in front of every light source to generate high-intensity light. Two reflectors are positioned one behind the other for each light source. The rear reflector picks up the light that is radiated from the light source to the side and the centrally positioned front reflector picks up the main part of the light from the light source.
Prism light guides are long rod-like light guides made of PMMA or PC with a typical diameter of between 7 and 10 mm. The light guides generate homogeneous linear illumination. Each one is equipped with LEDs at one or both ends. The light from the LEDs is coupled into the light guide via a coupling-in lens, which sends the light onward via total reflection. Part of the light meets the whole length of the back of the light guide, where the prisms are positioned; the prisms then uncouple part of the light from the rod at 90° to its longitudinal axis. This method achieves extremely consistent illumination along the entire rod.
A light curtain is a flat light guide that acts like an auxiliary lens in which one or several edges couple in the light from the LEDs. The structured surface of the lens radiates the light outward. A light curtain can be used as a small lens that forms part of a larger arrangement or as a large additional lens, offering the option of either large surface or partial illumination.
The EdgeLight light guide provides a clear signature thanks to its light-radiating edge, and features varying wall thickness depending on the function. In this product, the light from an LED is coupled into the reverse edge of the Edge-Light guide and then runs through the light guide plate by means of total reflection until it is radiated onto the front edge. An additional lens structure on the side surfaces makes system depth visible and allows this element to be emphasized.
The tunnel light system produces a tunnel-type depth effect despite its flat design depth, and can be matched to individual design requirements. The reflective paths are controlled via mirror and half-mirror surfaces and thus offer a multitude of stylistic possibilities.