Flexible LEDs find a foothold in the signage market as fabricators navigate the latest lighting options.
These 20 in. tall reverse channel letters for Eastern Kentucky University’s football program were fabricated by Integrity Sign Solutions (New Albany, IN) and instalLED by Instant Signs (Lexington, KY). The letters are halo-lit with Principal LED’s Qwik Tape technology.
东肯塔基大学足球项目的发光字由新奥尔巴尼的诚信标识制作公司（Integrity Sign Solutions）制作，并由肯塔基州列克星敦的即时标识公司（Instant Signs）安装，这些主LED都是用的Qwik Tape技术进行照明。
Richard Holzer, vice president of Xacto Signs , a custom sign wholesaler in Cleveland, remembers first observing LEDs in European airports back in the ’90s. “LEDs came first in Europe, then here [in the US].” said Holzer, who is French. “They’ve gotten brighter, and also smaller and smaller.” Within the world of LEDs exist flexible LEDs (meaning LED lamps mounted on a flexible substrate), which encompass myriad products and various interpretations of flexible LED classification. For instance, should flexible LED tubing that functions as neon tube lighting or neon replacement lighting be categorized under flexible LEDs? The answer lies in the eye – or diode – of the beholder, but for our purposes, products such as G2G Lighting’s Aurora Flex and Aurora Flex Mini are included. In addition to neon lighting, flexible LEDs can be sorted into linear border tubing (the LED is encapsulated or embedded inside a silicone or plastic tube) and tape lighting (with a “V” shape essential to its bending properties). Linear border tubing and tape lighting are created with different printed circuit boards (PCBs) and separate manufacturing processes. Possible applications for flexible LEDs range from lighting routed acrylic letters and channel letters (such as halo- or shallow-lit), to edge-lighting signage panels, to cove and display lighting.
克利夫兰定制标识批发商，Xacto标识公司的副总裁理查德·霍尔泽（Richard Holzer）回想起在90年代首次观察欧洲机场的LED，他说：“LED首先出现在欧洲，然后是在美国。它们逐渐变得更亮，也变得越来越小。”在LED的世界中，存在柔性LED（LED灯安装在柔性基板上），其包含无数产品和对柔性LED分类的各种解释。例如，作为霓虹灯管照明的柔性LED灯管是否应归入柔性LED？答案在于旁观者的看法或二极管，但出于我们的目的，包括G2G 照明的Aurora Flex和Aurora Flex Mini等产品。除了霓虹灯照明外，柔性LED还可以分为线性边框管（LED封装或嵌入硅胶或塑料管内）和灯带照明（具有“V”形状，对其弯曲性能至关重要）。使用不同的印刷电路板（PCB）和单独的制造工艺创建线性边框管和磁带照明。柔性LED的可能应用范围从照明布线丙烯酸字母和发光字（例如光晕或浅光），到边缘照明标识面板，到海湾和显示照明。
“The demand for flexible LEDs is getting bigger and bigger,” Holzer said, adding that most of Xacto’s flexible LED projects involve channel letters and edge lighting. However, the literal size of the projects is decreasing. “These small letters and signs are something that we have to manufacture, and do so competitively,” said Mike Hobbs, co-owner of Integrity Signs Solutions (New Albany, IN), a wholesale sign fabricator. “But that is what defines a good sign fabricator – figuring out how to make it happen.”
Not everyone in the industry is experiencing the same development, which highlights the wide spectrum of projects available in the signage world. “Of all the striping systems, the flexible LED is not utilized quite as much. Not every [lighting] company has it,” said Lenny Diaspro, senior sign territory manager for Graphics Solutions Group (Dallas), a wholesale distributor, though Diaspro did note that the market is still developing and that he found the neon replacement technology attractive. Denny Meyer, general manager of United-Maier Signs (Cincinnati), said he believes the sign industry has embraced flexible LEDs, but that his company simply doesn’t come across the technology very often. “There’s not a lot of applications for the flexible LED in the majority of the work we do,” Meyer said, “but I’m sure there are sign companies that are using the heck out of them.”
并不是行业中的每个人都经历着相同的发展，这彰显了标识世界中项目的广泛性。批发分销商图形解决方案组织（Graphics Solutions Group）的高级标识区域经理伦尼•蒂雅丝波（Lenny Diaspro）表示：“在所有的剥离系统中，柔性LED没有得到充分利用。并非每家照明公司都有这种技术。”不过，蒂雅丝波确实指出，市场仍在发展，他发现霓虹灯替代技术颇具吸引力。联合迈耶标识公司(United-Maier Signs)总经理丹尼•迈耶(Denny Meyer)表示，他认为标识行业已经接受了柔性LED，但他的公司很少遇到这种技术。迈耶说:“在我们做的大部分工作中，并没有很多柔性LED的应用，但我肯定有一些标识公司正在使用它们。”
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
There are a handful of considerations when choosing the right flexible LED for your sign project, and the first of those is heat sinks/heat sinking. Heat sinks refer to the devices within LEDs that absorb and diffuse surplus heat away from the diode, as too much heat equates to lower light output, color alteration and a decline in LED life expectancy. Heat sinking issues can be solved at the production line – the better the manufacturing, the less it becomes a problem.
A common issue with LEDs is hot spots, or areas of uneven brightness within a lit sign. This can cause LEDs to fail, and amplifies the need for proper distribution of the diodes within an LED. Hot spots can be caused by improper LED placement, power supply issues, and even the shape and depth of the sign itself.
Soldering one strip of lamps to another is a divisive subject. Failure to solder increases the risk of moisture damage to LEDs, and improper soldering brings its own risks. An alternative is a pre-made connector, but that avenue is precarious because it requires LED plug-ins on either side, which creates more opportunity for moisture damage. Soldering can be time-intensive and difficult to learn, though. “Some of us remember when we could run down to RadioShack and pick up some craft or hobby electrical things to solder up with a circuit board,” Hobbs said. “Unless you have extra arms to help hold things in place when soldering, this is a very tedious endeavor. And paying two people to stand and solder all day is not cost-effective.”
Halo-lit by Principal LED’s Qwik Tape, these 17 in. tall reverse channel letters for Famous Saloon in Nashville, TN were fabricated by Integrity Sign Solutions (New Albany, IN) and instalLED by ImageLife Signs & Graphics (Nashville).
由Principal LED公司的Qwik Tape系列点亮了田纳西州纳什维尔的一家著名的沙龙标识，这些17英寸高的反向发光字是由诚信标识制作公司制作，由形象生活标识公司（纳什维尔）安装。
The good news for sign companies is that there is a diverse collection of flexible LED products available. The aforementioned Aurora Flex (270° beam) and Aurora Flex Mini (240° beam) from G2G Lighting are both IP-65 rated and have an output of 2.8W/ft. Flexfire LEDs provides many flexible LED options, including the ColorBright RGB 300 Color Changing LED Strip Light (120° beam angle, 4.4W/ft., available in 2- or 4-in. segments), which was used to illuminate the wall sculpture at The Florida Aquarium (Tampa FL) pictured on on pages 46-47. Bitro Group has its TRACER Series, a tape module that is bendable both vertically and horizontally, and is ideal for low-profile narrow channel letter lighting. The Tracer is sold in two models, the FT 5320 (3W/ft., 2.36 in. cutting increment) and FT3113 (2.6W/ft., 1.57 in. cutting increment), with both available in 18.9-in. strip lengths.
对于标识公司来说，好消息是有各种各样的柔性LED产品可供选择。G2G照明的上述Aurora Flex（270°光束）和Aurora Flex Mini（240°光束）均为IP-65级，输出功率为2.8W / ft。 Flexfire LED提供了许多灵活的LED选项，包括色泽光亮的RGB 300变色LED灯条（120°光束，4.4W / ft，有2或4英寸段可供选择），它可用于照亮墙壁雕塑，在佛罗里达水族馆（佛罗里达州坦帕市）照片上46-47页。Bitro集团拥有特雷瑟系列（TRACER），这是一种可垂直和水平弯曲的磁带模块，是低调窄发光字照明的理想选择。特雷瑟以两种型号销售，FT 5320（3W / ft，2.36英寸）和FT3113（2.6W / ft，1.57英寸），两种型号均可提供18.9英寸条带长度。
International Light Technologies offers multiple flexible LED solutions, with its EZflx (IP-65 rated, 140° beam angle, cuttable every 1.5 in.) designed for low-profile channel letters, architectural letters and POP displays, among other applications. SloanLED has FlexiBRITE (IP-66 rated, 2.8W/ft.) and BendLUX (120°beam angle, 4.2W per strip); the former provides a neon look and the latter is best for lighting acrylic block letters, shallow channel letters and backlit halo letters. Principal LED’s Qwik Tape Series includes the Qwik Tape Punch, which sports a 120° beam angle and 4W/ft. OSRAM’s LINEARLight FLEX (12 products) and LINEARLight FLEX DIFFUSE (four products) offer a variety of solutions. Be on the lookout for sequels to each of these products, which hopefully prove to be as good as The Godfather: Part II.
国际照明技术（International Light Technologies）提供多种灵活的LED解决方案，其EZflx（IP-65级，140°光束角，每1.5英寸可切割），专为建筑标识和POP显示器等应用而设计。 SloanLED具有FlexiBRITE（IP-66级，2.8W / ft）和BendLUX（120°光束角，每条4.2W）; 前者提供霓虹灯外观，后者最适合照明丙烯酸块字母，浅槽字母和背光光环字母。 Principal LED的Qwik Tape系列包括Qwik Tape Punch，它具有120°光束角和4W / ft。欧司朗的LINEAR Light FLEX（12种产品）和LINEARLight FLEX DIFFUSE（四种产品）提供各种解决方案。请留意这些产品的最新系列，希望它们能与《教父2》一样惊艳。