Made in India: Improving the efficiency and lifetime of LEDs

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The LED industry is one of the fastest growing markets. In actively offering alternatives to halogen, incandescent and fluorescent lighting systems for both interior and exterior applications, the growth of the LED lighting market alone is expected to grow into a $70 billion industry by 2020; a growth from 18% market share to 70% market share in just over 5 years. (Forbes) The growth is attributed to the advantages LEDs offer over traditional lighting forms in terms of adaptability, lifetime and efficiency. They allow more design freedom, offer an exceptionally long life time and they are also considerably more efficient, converting the majority of energy to light and thus minimising the heat given off.

Global electro-chemicals manufacturer, Electrolube, provide exceptional Thermal Management, Conformal Coatings and Encapsulation Resin solutions for LED manufacturers with projects ranging from small automotive lights to full sized sports stadiums. The company has been at the forefront of the LED revolution, particularly in India, where the #makeinindia government initiative has resulted in a huge boost to the electronics industry and the LED market. The government has also introduced a number of other LED related projects aiming to bring affordable lighting to even the remotest of areas.

As a response to the Indian Government’s aims to promote strong home-based manufacturing sector, Electrolube has made significant investment in a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Bangalore to support local markets and increase their capacity to be a consistent and reliable supplier of electro-chemicals. With India poised to become one of the world’s prime electronics manufacturing regions, where both export and local markets are booming, demand for specialised services and products, particularly for LEDs, automotive and electronics, such as those provided by Electrolube India, are soaring.

Electrolube products gaining the most interest from the LED market in India include Thermal Management solutions for LEDs where the operating temperature can drastically effect the colour and lifetime of the LED. The lifetime of the LED is directly proportional to the operating temperature; the use of Thermal Pastes facilitates a ‘thermal path’ coming out from each LED bulb which then leads the heat away to the heat sink in order to improve the quality and lifespan of the LED. The non-silicone paste, HTC, Heat Transfer Compound, has proved a perfect solution for most indoor application enquiries, while outdoor and high-bay lighting enquiries placed HTSP, Heat Transfer Paste, under the spotlight because of its extremely high thermal conductivity.

Waterproof solutions for outdoor applications such as streetlights and marine applications are also gaining a lot of interest and the company is experiencing surging demand for optically clear Conformal Coatings such as AFA, Aromatic Free Acrylic Coating, and Encapsulation Resins.

The LED industry in India increasingly views Electrolube as a go-to resource for effective chemical solutions provided with high speed delivery. Architectural lighting companies are particularly interested in Electrolube’s new polyurethane resins, the optically clear UR5634 and optically hazy UR5635, both designed with potting in mind. Flame-retardant resins (such as optically black polyurethane UR5604) have also garnered a lot of attention from manufacturers of LED drivers; this resin is also ideally suited for use in solar inverters.

The growing LED market in India is particularly receptive to the innovative and highly effective solutions that Electrolube provides. As an example of how Electrolube solves problems, the company were recently approached by LED lighting systems specialist, Rockforest Technologies India Pvt Ltd, who were contracted to supply LED strip lighting units for luminaires destined for a shopping complex in Bangalore, India. Rockforest’s LED lighting strips were required to provide a ‘neutral white’ (4,000K) colour and the LEDs in the luminaires needed to be potted in order to protect them from adverse environmental conditions. Electrolube India conducted some initial trials, potting the strip luminaires to a specified depth of 5.5mm using their UR5634, a semi-rigid, optically clear polyurethane resin that is widely used for encapsulating LED lighting systems. With impressive protective and decorative properties, the UR5634 resin is also highly UV resistant, making it especially useful as an encapsulant for applications exposed to direct sunlight.

In this particular application, the resin caused a colour shift from the LED array from the specified 4,000K (neutral white) to ‘cool white’ (6,500K). Rockforest needed to solve this problem quickly as the 4,000K colour was a non-negotiable specification; moreover, their customer requested that a new reference sample, which met the 4,000K colour specification, be made available for re-testing in just 24 hours. Electrolube India needed to act rapidly to help Rockforest meet this very tight deadline and collaborated with Electrolube’s expert technical support team in the UK for advice. Responding immediately to the request, the UK team suggested two different approaches that Rockforest might consider in order to solve the problem.

The first of these was a recommendation that they use an LED that provided a colour temperature below the specified colour temperature – in this case, one operating in the 2,500K to the 3,000K range. By potting these with the UR5634 resin to the specified 5.5mm depth, it potentially could bring the light back to the desired colour. The second option was that Rockforest assesses the amount and type of resin they were using for this project to see if a thinner layer of resin over the top of the LED array would reduce the colour shift effect.

Ultimately, Electrolube India persuaded Rockforest to switch to UR5635, the company’s semi-rigid polyurethane resin, formulated with a ‘hazy/cloudy’ appearance that is ideal for dispersing light. The diffused light produced by this resin meant that an additional diffuser medium was no longer necessary, allowing the customer to achieve the required aesthetic appearance and, through trials with various resin potting depths, the correct colour temperature. During these trials, the rapid gel time of UR5635 caused a complication but Electrolube India solved this problem by suggesting a staged potting procedure.

In this instance, Electrolube’s UR5635 was the seamless LED protection solution for the customer. Due to its cloudy appearance and unique capability to diffuse light, UR5635 has been well received by LED manufacturers in India as an effective and reliable LED resin for both decorative and protective applications, whilst simultaneously reducing additional costs. It exhibits exceptional water and weather resistance, as well as high resistance to acids and alkalis making it suitable for a wide range of environments and an extremely durable potting compound. UR5635 is also resistant to UV light, making it especially useful as an outdoor LED encapsulant or for use in other applications where it may be exposed to direct sunlight.

Ensuring the most efficient thermal management solution is employed will provide consistent quality, appearance and lifetime of LED arrays and in turn, opens up the opportunity for further applications for this ever evolving industry.

With such rapid advances in India’s LED applications, it is imperative that materials technology is addressed to meet the ever demanding requirements for heat dissipation. Electrolube understand the importance of continually developing formulated chemical products to meet the rapid and demanding requirements of this popular technology and have developed specific technologies to improve the ability to process thermal management compounds, easily and effectively. Further reading is available through Electrolube’s LED specific brochure, which includes a wealth of comparison data sourced from rigorous testing for the LED market. This is something which few, if any, electro-chemical manufacturers have done to date, and it has received a huge amount of interest from the industry.

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