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138 TECHNOLOGY / LED


Our LED expert Dr Geoff Archenhold takes us through the developments of the year that was and contemplates a slowing down of solid state lighting innovation in 2011.


ARCHENHOLD’S ALMANAC 2011


Looking back at 2011 one could be signifi- cantly chastised for even suggesting that the LED and OLED lighting market could be slowing down, especially when all indica- tions point to a rapid update of LED light- ing. However, if one looks at the sector ob- jectively then for certain companies within the supply chain, 2011 wasn’t outstanding and there could be tougher times ahead for many. For example, there is a huge bubble waiting to burst in relation to LED manufac- turing that could force a major shift in the traditional leaders in LED manufacturing all caused by a huge over investment during the last few years in MOCVD equipment in Asia and particularly China where signifi- cant government subsidies are on offer to entice an aggressive and complete lighting supply chain. After visiting recent lighting exhibitions one could easily think that LED lighting is everywhere as the majority of fixture manufacturers now offer LED solu- tions. However, the reality is that LED light- ing is still too expensive to reach the masses of applications and customers so that even a compound growth rate of 33% LED usage in 2011 isn’t enough to sustain the large number of installed LED reactors. As highlighted by a recent Strategies In Light report, LED prices have plummeted 20-40% in 2011 and there is an expected shakeout of weaker players and new entrants without much experience that will inevitably fail or the market will see rapid mergers. As LEDs become more like commodities, only strong players with deep pockets will survive the fluctuations, much like DRAM and hard disk suppliers in markets of old. Why is this important to us at the end of the lighting chain who are producing luminaires or specifying products? The shareholders in established companies such as Cree, Philips and Osram (parent Siemens) will find it even tougher to raise investment funds in core R&D and production facilities over the next few years especially as the return on investments diminish as the cost


of LED emitters reduce. This will force the established companies to look at different strategies and focus on higher added value parts of the supply chain and could even see the odd spin-offs of LED manufactur- ing divisions. To a degree we are already seeing this occur with Cree buying well known fixture manufacturer Ruud Lighting, Siemens looking to IPO Osram at some point and an increase in patent licencing/litiga- tion activities.


The bottom line is that this is good news for consumers as the cost of LEDs (and hence lighting fixtures) will reduce significantly over the next two or three years to help LED penetration. A report from Digitimes in Taiwan highlighted that the Taiwanese LED manufacturers are now targeting a price for LED packaging to reach 500lm per US$ in 2012 and to hit 1,000lm per US$ in 2015. This target is five years ahead of targets set by the US Department of Energy (DOE) which will surely set up Asia as a leader in high quality lighting especially if Asian companies acquire innovative western LED counterparts.


Always with sector positives there are nega- tive consequences and in 2011 one of the major issues I have seen is the slowdown in lighting fixture innovation as companies have focused on reducing costs and rushing to get products to market. I expect this trend to continue in 2012 with the majority of “me too” LED products being launched which not only look similar but offer similar performance with the only difference being price. Therefore, LED fixture manufacturers will have to work harder in 2012 to differen- tiate themselves from competitors in order to maintain margin which all leads to an interesting couple of years. A further nega- tive I have picked up recently due to the rapid cost-down of LED fixtures is the shift of investment from OLED research to LED fixture production as companies focused on revenues today rather than opportunities of tomorrow.


Figure 1: The Cree prototype 60W lamp replacement using only 10W of LEDs.


With all this said, 2011 has seen a number of breakthroughs as we shall now see...


JANUARY 2011 BRIDGELUX: Updated its LED array prod- uct family with the expansion of the RS range by shattering industry standards for light output performance and significantly improving efficacy. The new RS Arrays delivered 3500 to 8000 operational lumens, an extended range of colour temperatures including warm, neutral and cool white (2700K to 5600K), and multiple colour ren- dering indices (CRI) options. The products were well received by the market to offer higher performance spotlights for retail and architectural lighting as well as higher per- formance exterior area lighting, replacing 70W cHID sources in several applications. CREE: Further simplified indoor LED fixture design with its newly optimised XLamp MX-6 LEDs that feature higher flux options, new, longer lifetime estimates and higher CRI options. Cree also completed LM-80 testing on MX-6 LEDs that can enable quicker time to market for manufacturers designing ENERGY STAR-rated fixtures. The MX-6 LEDs are available in higher flux order codes offering light output of up to 122 lumens at 300mA in cool white (6000K) and up to 100 lumens at 300mA in warm white (3000 K). MX-6 LEDs are also available with 80 CRI minimum in warm white (2600K – 4300K) for both standard and high-voltage configura- tions. Based on LM-80 extrapolations and under normal operating conditions, MX-6 LEDs can provide an L70 lifetime of more than 150,000 hours using ENERGY STAR life- time prediction methods. If used 24-hours- a-day, that equates to more than 17 years. Cree also extended its LED module family with the Cree LMR2 LED Module, a com- pact, high-efficiency module that provides a simple solution for lighting designers and manufacturers looking to implement LED lighting. Towards the end of January, Cree dem-


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