Image Credit: Direct Industry | Howard Electronic Instruments, Inc.   Light guides conduct the flow of light from a light source to a point of use. They are used to illuminate areas that are too small or too hazardous to permit the installation of a light bulb. Light guides are sometimes called light pipes (lightpipes).  Light guides are also used in heat transfer and ultraviolet light (UV) curing applications.   Video Credit: Edmund Optics Types...
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Q & A on Light Guides

We asked our users for their input on Light Guides. Here are the results of 59 users familiar with Light Guides.

Who Took Our Poll? | Design Trends | Applications and Use | Features | Buying Advice

Design TrendsTop

Q:
What new technologies are influencing light guide design?
9 answers
Answers:
Architectural lighting, Solar day lighting, Solar concentrating systems, Photovoltaic design, Signage back lighting, Electronic display design.
~Tom T, Engineer, Daphne, AL
Production Processes that require multi-programmable steps or sequences.
~Cory F, Technical Support, Sheboygan, WI
Smaller system packaging, and increased PCB / Mechanical integration.
~Derek Vanditmars, Design Engineer, Vancouver, BC, Canada
LED's are lowering the need for light-guides in some applications.
~F.D. M, Project Manager, Chicago, IL
Fiber optic cables.
~Philip S, Engineer, NYC, New York
Brighter LED's
~Jay V, Engineer, Argonne, IL
Photonics!
~T.B. Botto, Research & Development, Cambridge, MA
GPON
~Research & Development, Bengaluru, India
LED
~Harry R, General Management, Erbach, Germany

Q:
From your perspective, which companies are creating the most innovative light guides?
8 answers
Answers:
I have always found what I needed from Banner.
~Cory F, Technical Support, Sheboygan, WI
3M, InsightLighting (Euro, Illusions), Tubelite, Apollo Litepipe, Solatube, Natural Light Energy Systems, Martin, Revelation Lighting and Display Systems.
~Tom T, Engineer, Daphne, AL
I am interested in purchasing Fibre optic cable but due to the high cost ?? Since I only want to transmit daylight, losses are not that important as i can add more cables to the bundle. I am looking to purchase "REJECTS or DAMAGED"cable for my project at a deep discount. I called Corning in N.Y. and they are not interested.
~Philip S, Engineer, NYC, New York
Currently tend to design our own due to customization required, however initially tried to find something off the shelf.
~Derek Vanditmars, Design Engineer, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Omniguide, but I have not worked with those.
~T.B. Botto, Research & Development, Cambridge, MA
Fiberoptic Components, Integra Luxtec
~F.D. M, Project Manager, Chicago, IL
Advanced fiber optics, Spain 3M
~Harry R, General Management, Erbach, Germany
Moritex Corporation
~Jay V, Engineer, Argonne, IL

Applications and UseTop

Q:
What are some of the applications you have used light guides for?
15 answers
Answers:
Presence sensing for product "Board" on a 12' saw, within (not aligned) an area to be cut. It had to detect the leading edge (but not activate output) and the trailing edge where it then activated an output to stop the saw carriage - brought the saw up, and cut through the product. Without initially activating when it goes in or out of the home enclosure. The Light Guide (fiber optic) must look up through 3/8" slot to see the product, of different colors, at a distance of 3"~4".
~Cory F, Technical Support, Sheboygan, WI
I have a project which entails bringing light from the outdoors to the interior of a NYC Condo apt. I wish to make a minimum penetration through the outside wall and transmit daylight approximately 20 to 30 feet.
~Philip S, Engineer, NYC, New York
Used for back lighting protein and virus crystals during alignment setup for X-Ray crystallography. Experiments at the Advanced Photon Source here at Argonne National Labs.
~Jay V, Engineer, Argonne, IL
Underwater lighting wet room lighting art & Decor lighting
~Harry R, General Management, Erbach, Germany
Measuring and presence of parts for automated equipment etc...
~Daniel R, Engineering Manager/Expolsives & Pyrotechnic Mfg.Eng., Independence, MO
Scintillation detectors and coupling to a multi-anode PMT.
~T.B. Botto, Research & Development, Cambridge, MA
LED indicators and larger ICON type designs.
~Derek Vanditmars, Design Engineer, Vancouver, BC, Canada
High throughput delivery of optical power.
~John Flanagan, Engineer, Holbrook, MA
Microscope illumination, endoscopes.
~F.D. M, Project Manager, Chicago, IL
Nothing yet, but I know they can be of almost any size, and can be used for anything from solar day lighting ,LED electronic applications, LED architectural lighting to optical systems. There are even several patents for CPV applications.
~Tom T, Engineer, Daphne, AL
Back lighting, touch panels
~Technical Support/Services, Grand Rapids, MI
Live cell imaging
~Tom G, Technical Support, Prospect Heights, IL
LED light guide
~Research & Development, Bengaluru, India
User interface
~Engineering, Design, Bangalore, India
TV Bezels
~Gordon S, Design Engineer, San Diego, CA

Q:
Please share with us any “non-standard” applications that light guides have been used for.
6 answers
Answers:
- illuminated costumes for Disneyland "Fantillusion" Parade. - theatrical stage decoration
~Harry R, General Management, Erbach, Germany
Hot glue application reservoir Full (Stop Fill) sensing
~Cory F, Technical Support, Sheboygan, WI
Installed on equipment processing energetic materials.
~Daniel R, Engineering Manager/Expolsives & Pyrotechnic Mfg.Eng., Independence, MO
Protein and Virus lighting in an x-ray environment.
~Jay V, Engineer, Argonne, IL
Solar concentration and light distribution.
~Tom T, Engineer, Daphne, AL
Fluorescence and curing
~F.D. M, Project Manager, Chicago, IL

Q:
Do you know of any disastrous mistakes that occurred due to the incorrect usage of light guides?
2 answers
Answers:
I know in some applications, high heat damage and or UV damage can occur.
~Tom T, Engineer, Daphne, AL
No, but of there is always the danger of a crash when the device does not work as envisioned.
~Cory F, Technical Support, Sheboygan, WI

FeaturesTop

Q:
What would your design or feature "wish list" be for this product?
10 answers
Answers:
More flexible light guides, more thermal resistant light guides.
~Harry R, General Management, Erbach, Germany
Greater sensing distance, with the ability to focus the beam.
~Cory F, Technical Support, Sheboygan, WI
Moderate price, high NA, high packing density, Schott glass.
~F.D. M, Project Manager, Chicago, IL
Having custom sizes, not just AWG sizes would greatly help.
~T.B. Botto, Research & Development, Cambridge, MA
High optical throughput wide optical waveband
~John Flanagan, Engineer, Holbrook, MA
Software to help with light pipe design.
~Derek Vanditmars, Design Engineer, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Solar applications
~Tom T, Engineer, Daphne, AL
Low voltage LED's
~Jay V, Engineer, Argonne, IL
Good guide lines
~Gordon S, Design Engineer, San Diego, CA
Low cost--
~Philip S, Engineer, NYC, New York

Q:
Is there any advice you want to share with users to help them avoid common errors in selection or usage of light guides?
3 answers
Answers:
The difficult part I've found is matching a photo eye with a light guide (fiber optic) that will work together as per your need. So far I've not found a resource that links the two together.
~Cory F, Technical Support, Sheboygan, WI
Understand that bundle diameter and NA directly relates to how much light transmits through the fiber.
~F.D. M, Project Manager, Chicago, IL
Selection can be very complicated, but you should talk to tech reps during the selection process.
~Tom T, Engineer, Daphne, AL

Buying AdviceTop

Q:
Do you have any advice for people relative to buying or using light guides?
6 answers
Answers:
Try out a sample product with the actual LED to ensure brightness and same light brightness when viewed from various angles.
~Derek Vanditmars, Design Engineer, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Buy reasonably good quality. The cheap light guides often don't perform as well.
~F.D. M, Project Manager, Chicago, IL
Call the company's application support to verify the workability, or working function of a product. This way you will be able to confirm that the device will do what you intend.
~Cory F, Technical Support, Sheboygan, WI
Depending on the application, they can be very expensive..
~Tom T, Engineer, Daphne, AL
Think about maintainability in your design.
~Jay V, Engineer, Argonne, IL
Always look for highest quality
~Harry R, General Management, Erbach, Germany


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