To achieve continuous illumination across a long luminaire span is no small feat. But Acuity Brands’ Peerless division was up for the challenge when designing its Open direct-indirect luminaire, which was awarded the title of Most Innovative Product of the Year at the 2014 Lightfair Innovation Awards.
“Every time you want to get these beautiful lines of light, instead you get these crazy seams,” says Jimalee Beno, Acuity Brands’ vice president of lighting and Peerless’ value-stream leader. “Even if we do a good job, then the contractor has to do a good job [with the installation. We thought], how can we have something that didn’t have a lens but gave you continuous illumination?”
Open achieves its lens-free linear form by reflecting light up and down an internal, arched polycarbonate optic. Beno says the research and development work for Open began 18 months ago when her team was conceiving its Round 4 direct-indirect luminaire; the team was exploring luminous corners instead of metal ones but was concerned that cut seams would hurt the light output and the fixture’s overall aesthetic. With that challenge in mind, when work began on Open, the team used the same injection-molded optic for uplighting the indirection portion of the luminaire as they used for Round 4 and Square, another direct-indirect fixture from Peerless. The optic turns its direct LED light into indirect illumination by focusing the light upward, into the arched optic, to reduce glare and enhance the purity of the illumination. The arched polycarbonate diffuser and its optical film, however, were engineered specifically for Open.
The resulting fixture offers independent control of balanced direct and indirect illumination with a CRI in the 90s, Beno says. The original design called for solid, mirrored end-pieces to reflect the light rather than the soft arch, but the product development team eventually decided to overlap and arch strips of the polycarbonate lens to avoid visual seams. Developing the design and creating prototypes took nine months and required such considerations as the quantity and output of LEDs to avoid pixilation as well as the ease of maintenance for the 1’ LED modules, which are placed on a 4’ board behind the removable polycarbonate lens. “Owners are requesting LEDs but the lighting community hasn’t resolved all the issues with maintenance and replacement,” Beno says.
As part of the prototyping process, the team used a Stratasys Dimension 3D printer to fabricate prototype parts including end-caps and extrusions (both shown, above). “That enabled us to play with different proportions than we had before,” Beno says.
Peerless is also evolving the product for use in healthcare applications by offering it with an angled protective lens. This will eliminate the small ridge in the original version on which contaminants can cluster, while also making it easier to clean.
Overall, Beno is proud of the fixture and of her team’s now-award-winning work, which Lightfair senior vice president JoAnn Miller Marshall told Innovation Awards attendees was being recognized for its “simplicity in style and design and performance that leverages the LED form factor.”