How Do I Cost Reduce My Backlighting

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The Problem

Even though an engineering team may not be proficient in backlighting design, often they are confident performance and cost targets can be met with an internal solution, therefore, decide on an in-house approach for their illumination needs. After some time, however, the team can discover the reality of under performing results using traditional methods and unfamiliarity with new technologies and techniques that can help. Due dates are approaching, the customer is waiting for completion and the engineering hours are adding up.

The goal for you and your team is to uniformly and efficiently illuminate a region for your UI, Graphic/Logo, Indicator or Display Application with LEDs using a cost-effective strategy, but either you don’t know where to start or you can quickly find common “point source” LED approaches that do not work. You know you want to save money and you want the design to be done right, but the “known” solutions may increase complexity and drive up costs for the intended lighting metrics, especially for companies with little to no optical experience. An early consideration for your back lighting solution may streamline the design process and dramatically help cost reduction.


Aspects you may be overspending in:

-Too many LEDs and electrical components in your circuitry

-Tooling from injection molding with high cost and slow lead-times

-Slow lead times with vendors wastes $$$$

-Design aspects that your are not proficient in takes extra research and development

-Overspending on engineering iterations/changes once back lighting is an after thought


Case Study

Let’s look at an example to help demonstrate some of these cost savings options


The figures below show an illumination solution for an automotive tread plate assembly.

A Light Panel assembly with one LED, can be over 8″ long with excellent uniformity.

The Solution

Quality over Quantity

In the example pictured above with the lettering about 8 inches across (203mm), we see that using a thin edge-lit optical panel technology using a single LED from one edge mounted on a small PCBA footprint can achieve bright and uniform illumination. In addition, changing a traditional black housing to a white reflective cavity eliminates the need for a reflector film layer. The overall design demonstrates enhanced lighting performance can be achieved with fewer components and smaller assembly profile driving cost way down.


Tooling is too Expensive

A major cost driver is injection mold tooling. This can create huge financial impact with longer lead times and slow turn arounds. Alternatively, high-speed manufacturing processes that do not require injection molding for their back lighting solutions can offer companies lower tooling start-up costs, reduced piece prices and, faster time to market while still providing cutting edge light panels as thin as 0.07″ (0.18mm).


Turn to the Experts

Undertaking a task in a field that your team is not proficient in may lead to longer lead times, misused resources, wasted engineering hours and overall frustration when the desired results fall short. Turning to a company that offers experienced optical expertise can function as an extension to your engineering teams’ resources, shorten the development process and help avoid design pitfalls. The sooner you engage with them the higher likelihood of a successful outcome before going too far down the design path. A smart approach is to enable outside solution-oriented design and manufacturing support who will work with you and your needs to quickly execute on your lighting vision without compromising cost or performance


Product Highlight – Consumer Electronics

Consumer Illuminated Router Logo Application

0.5mm Thick Light Panel with 90° bend

Light Panel Value

-Curved light entrance region

-Displaced daughter board and wire harness by moving light through optics from motherboard location

-Design for production with rapid design cycles

-High uniformity using only 2 LEDs

The result is a Custom Light Panel designed with production intent yielding low cost, uniform backlighting and reduce total solution piece price by greater than a dollar with no injection tooling costs


The Conclusion –

There are inexpensive alternatives to illuminate your desired application without compromising on performance. Finding ways to use light panel technologies with enhanced design tools and manufacturing capability can help you achieve those results by simplifying your final assembly. Reach out to the experts for your lighting application regardless of the design phase to see how cost savings can be achieved for your project.