What is 3D Printing
Three-dimensional (3D) Printing is based on the premise of adding material to build a product one layer at a time. This process is known as additive manufacturing. 3D printing can utilize a variety of materials such as plastics, metals, polymers, and more. Raw material paired with digital software and a design file allows 3D products to be created in little time. This process is already changing the way we make so many things, including some everyday commercial lighting components.
How 3D Printing Being Used in Commercial Lighting
Currently, commercial lighting manufacturers have used 3D printing to create custom luminaire components, as well as LED components. LED fixture manufacturing has largely moved overseas. 3D printing is a way for U.S. based manufacturers to seek ways of reducing costs by making lighting products locally.
As an example, Signify’s Philips Lighting utilized an established factory in Littlestown, Pennsylvania to manufacture custom luminaires locally. Products are printed with 100% recyclable polycarbonate material and long-distance shipping is eliminated. With production and delivery time a lot shorter, customers can purchase custom pendants for a timely event without worry of a lengthy lead time.
“A 3D printed luminaire has a 47% lower carbon footprint than one that’s manufactured in the traditional way. We can print it in our Pennsylvania factory and ship it straight to a customer locally in record time. In a traditional manufacturing process, the components might be made in China, sent by sea freight to Mexico for assembly, then delivered by truck to a distribution center to sit in stock until it is ordered. With 3D printing, we don’t need to do any of that. Everything is made to order, produced and shipped locally with minimal components and parts. This means less inventory in warehouses.”
Matthew Wall, Product Marketing Lead for 3D printing in North America
Benefits of 3D Printing in Commercial Lighting
There are many benefits to manufacturing through 3D printing.
Customers will have more choice in the shape, size, and color of elements. Company logos can also be included and small changes to design are possible without altering production costs. Designers have endless possibilities!
Custom lighting for different areas no longer have to be “off the shelf.” Lighting can be created in a personal way to create the right ambiance for the application with no minimum order. A customer might decide to order custom pendants for an upcoming event to show support to a philanthropic cause, as an example. Planning time is decreased tremendously with quick turn-around times.
Lighting can be repurposed into a new color or shape so when you are ready for a new product, you can repurpose your existing product by recycling the materials for your next order. Product fabrication can now include all components with no assembly required… less materials, no paint, less screws, less waste. Reduction in carbon emissions through local production is also a game changer. This impact alone can create huge savings due to the reduction storage, shipping, handling, and distribution costs.
As you can see, similar to other industries, 3D printing can be a huge benefit to the commercial lighting industry. The revolution is just beginning!
If you are in need of lighting retrofit or turn-key project services, contact Bay Lighting. We outfit commercial properties throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C., with energy-saving lighting solutions. Give us a call at 301-858-9494 to get started.