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News

Three-Dimensional Electroluminescent Lamps

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 15 February, 2005  (Company News)
The Smart Surface Technology has been developed by Bayer MaterialScience, one of the world
Scientists use the term “EL” to refer to a method of generating light that fireflies have been masters of all along - albeit by chemical means. In contrast to fireflies, engineers use a film that lights up on application of a voltage to achieve EL light generation. The hitch: only flat surfaces of limited size could be achieved in the past. But Smart Surface Technology now makes it possible for the films to be shaped as needed and then to illuminate any conceivable geometry.

The Smart Surface Technology is a technology which can be used to manufacture thin, three-dimensional plastic parts which, when alternating current is applied, light up evenly over the entire surface area - including the edges. The first step in their production involves printing several layers on a transparent polycarbonate film by a highly sophisticated screen-printing process. These layers consist of a transparent polymer based electrode separated from a counter-electrode by a non-conductive material. The light emitters - special inorganic crystals - are embedded in the nonconductor. The decorated film can now be shaped three-dimensionally and backmolded with thermoplastic by film insert molding. Because they do not need any incandescent lamps or light-emitting diodes, such molded parts do not require any further assembly steps. Furthermore, EL lamps show a very long service life and do not require any maintenance. The color spectrum of the dazzle-free light ranges from blue to green and from orange to white. No heat is generated.

Besides the design freedom in terms of shape the Smart Surface Technology also offers the opportunity of endless choices of graphic designs. Applying decorative graphics to a film by screen-printing is already state of the art for many different goods, from automotive to fashion. This technology can also be combined with a decorative printing.

One example of this new technology is a heating and ventilation control display panel made of products from Bayer MaterialScience. The part is manufactured in a single step. In the past, using conventional methods, five components had to be assembled one after the other.

The Germany-based international leather and bag specialist BREE has created the first illuminated business handbag with Smart Surface Technology. The EL film embossed with the BREE logo lights up at the press of a button, immersing as many as two compartments in a magical glow.

Summarising the advantages of the Smart Surface Technology the following facts have to be pointed out:

Geometry:
The Smart Surface Technology opens the opportunity of three-dimensional formability of an electroluminescent lamp for the first time.

Weight/Space:
The Smart Surface Technology is a screen-printed lamp which emits an equal light from the entire surface. The total lamp is usually less than 0.5 mm thick. This structure saves weight and space.

“Cold Light”:
The Smart Surface Technology is a light source which does not generate heat. This is beneficial for the lamp itself in terms of lifetime performance and for the surrounding areas.

Assembling:
The Smart Surface Technology is a lamp which can be produced in a single process. No further assembly is necessary. Also, the number of parts which have to be integrated is drastically reduced.

Maintenance:
The Smart Surface Technology shows a lifetime performance which does not require time and cost intensive maintenance.
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