Choosing a Light Engine Solution

By WPG AmericasSeptember 23, 2015

Can you honestly say you know where to start when developing a new idea utilizing LED technology? If you can answer YES you are probably already developing luminaires, if you answered NO don’t fret. With a Yes or NO answer there can be significant cost around getting your initial concept built in a timely manner and it can be rather challenging dealing with distributors, contract manufacturers, maybe an engineering firm.

When starting this process let’s assume you have a mechanical form and function, but the overall process of developing the luminaire contains a number of steps that can become overwhelming. Let’s take a look at the light engine choices that are available as this can be one of the most critical aspects. If you are considering using a COB (chip on board) solution you may need a holder and/or connector solution. The COB solution may seem like a very simple way to achieve a “quick to market” solution and in the right applications it can be, but not everyone has the production resources that can make this solution successful. Just because it seems simple does not always mean that it is. Around utilizing a COB you must take care in the handling and the assembly to ensure that you are not causing damage to the LED. The thermal transfer material can be a critical part in ensuring lifetime of the system and there are various ways to achieve proper transfer. TIM (thermal interface material) is one way to ensure you have proper thermal transfer for these high wattage density packages, Thermal grease is always an option too. There are always trade-offs; cost, application as well as performance need to be considered.  

A COB may not always be the best solution for your luminaire, sometimes a PCB (printed circuit board) utilizing specific LEDs may be a better solution. One advantage to a PCB solution would be that assembly into the system can be easier, yes easier. The PCBA solution allows a robustness to the system during the assembly process that can make your product much easier to build on your existing production line.

The problem for most fixture manufacturers is that a PCB layout does require assembly that you may not be equipped to handle. The application of solder to the PCB, the LED pick and place process, the reflow of the solder all require equipment not normally found in a manufacturing facility for traditional lighting. This is where a CM (contract manufacturing) can be important, but proceed with caution when choosing a CM. Just because someone can place your components on a PCB doesn’t mean that they offer or can help you develop your conceptual designs and layout. The layout out a PCB seems simple but there are a number of specifications that must be considered. Some of these specifications are safety concentric and some revolve around cost for example knowing how to get full utilization at the PCB in panel form. 

The WPG Americas and New Energy partnership can make the transition from concept to production a much easier progression. We understand these specification and by working together we provide the customer with a “one stop shop” for providing solutions as well as your conceptual needs. There can be significant cost associated with a PCB development from creating gerber files, stencils, and minimum order quantities all just to get a few sample boards. If you want to make a revision then you incur all these charges again. To help save you money and speed up your time to market come work with our team and get the important knowledge of components, the industry standards, design for safety and rapid prototyping of your PCBA enabling faster time to market. Whether it is a COB + Holder + harness, or a complete PCBA we can accommodate your needs.