The biggest compromise that a product designer has to contend with is the need to embody technology within their designs. For the past century we’ve understood that form follows function, but that principle sits uncomfortably with the growing need to incorporate technology as part of the function of the device. Electronics has to be found a space in today’s lighting design.
When the idea that form should follow function was originally embraced by the modernist movement, all that the creative lighting designer had to contend with was to make sure that the tungsten filament lamp didn’t overheat or cause other things to catch fire. There was no transformer, no control gear, no driver. The 1980s changed all of that, with the introduction of the 12v tungsten halogen lamp and its transformer and, ever since then, much of our lighting product comes with a chunky box attached to the side of it. One might now say that form follows necessity, though that doesn’t scan so well.
What can be done?
Designers and manufacturers of LED components are working constantly to reduce the size of the supporting technology, sometimes to the point where the physical reduction compromises the performance of the light source, reducing light and life and undermining the very benefits that the LED is meant to have brought to us.
Osram acknowledges that there is a balance-point between the ideal of the electronics having zero dimension, and understanding that reliability and security of the equipment is the ultimate decisive factor in creating a successful luminaire. The latest system solution from Osram underlines the commitment to reliability while going a long way to make the life of the product designer much easier.
Optotronic FIT LT2 S
This is a compact constant-current driver that allows multiple lumen packages, so there is no need for the designer to have to design different packages for different power ratings; the 15W, 25W and 40W drivers all have the same form factor. And at 97mm x 43mm x 29.5mm, that is a very impressive form factor.
An additional feature within such a small device is the opportunity to adjust the output current by connecting an external resistor, which provides the choice of driver output current from 150mA to 1050mA, depending on the combination of driver rating and resistor.
PrevaLED Core Z6 Mini LED module
This module takes miniaturisation to a new level. Designed to operate with the range of Osram drivers, including the FIT LT2 S driver, the physical size of the Core Z6 Mini enables the designer to create luminaires with smaller and shorter reflector systems without compromising the light performance.
The Core Z6 mini has a light-emitting surface of only 13mm diameter (LES13 in Zhaga terminology), in a mount that is, itself, only 35mm in diameter.
This is indicative of the effort that Osram is putting into the task of making life easier for the product designer.
In terms of its performance, the Z6 Mini operates at up to 3450lm output and has a lifetime of 60,000 hours (rated L80/B50 and with Tp = 65°C). The LED module is available with an Ra>80 for colour temperatures of 2700K, 3000K, 3500K, 4000K and an Ra>90 for 3000K and 4000K outputs.
Given that we are not in the perfect world where drivers have no size at all and light has to come from somewhere, these latest developments from Osram are a welcome addition to the toolbox for product designers who wish to concentrate on combining aesthetics and performance without feeling that their creativity is being hampered by uncompromising technology.