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LED模组在标识行业的发展概况

2017/12/8 14:50:52

摘要:

Well, here we are. When I was asked to write an article on LED channel letter modules, I thought to myself, what else is there to really write about that hasn’t been said? I began to reflect on my 15 years manufacturing sign modules and the massive changes that I have witnessed over that period. It has truly been extraordinary. Prices were high and so was the LED “hype.” The technology was new and reliability and long-term performance were questionable at best. Neon was dominant and these “little” modules were positioning themselves to disrupt what had been the status quo for more than 50 years in a “big” way. And so, it happened. LEDs module manufacturers began to develop capabilities and features that sign makers needed.


当有人邀请我撰写一篇关于LED发光字模组的文章时,我曾思考过这样一个问题:关于LED这方面的知识还有哪些是未曾提及但是又真正值得记录的?于是,我开始回顾15年来我在标识行业的工作经历和我在那段时间里所见证的巨大变化。起初LED的价格昂贵并且得到了铺天盖地的宣传。虽然技术新颖,但人们对它的可靠性和实用性仍表示质疑,霓虹灯依旧占领着光源市场的主导地位。但是这些“小”模组正在以一些“大”动作扰乱标识市场过去50多年的现状。市场正在转变,LED模组制造商已经开始研发一些功能和特性都能满足标识制造商需求的模组。

Standardization and Innovation


标准化与创新


It may seem understood that when you buy an LED module today that it has a VHB tape on the back or that it’s going to be 12VDC input. However, that was not always the case. LED module makers learned by trial and error what sign makers wanted, and slowly began to standardize. I remember LED modules that were purely mechanically mounted, white modules that you had to buy in batches like vintages of fine wine, and voltages that were all over the place – 3.6V, 9V, 15V, 24V, 36V. As capabilities became more standardized, competition began pouring in and driving down prices; however, the performance grew incrementally.


今天,人们购买的LED模组背后都附有一个VHB胶带,或者标明了允许12伏直流电输入。但当初的情况并非如此,LED模组制造商通过反复的试验来了解标识制造商到底需要什么产品,并将制造的成品慢慢标准化生产。我还清楚地记得当LED模组完全由机器安装的时候,批量购买的白色模组就像葡萄酒一样珍贵,它能够适应各种电压——3.6V、9V、15V、24V、36V。随着制造模组的标准越来越规范,竞争也就慢慢激烈起来,价格也随之降低,当然,模组的性能也在越变越好。


In 2009-2010 LED modules entered a second wave of innovation (thanks in part to the general lighting market). During this phase, lumen outputs grew substantially and new features making modules easier to install became incorporated into basic designs. From 2012-2015, module makers began adding more features, making waterproof modules and adding secondary optics to better distribute light across the sign surface, reducing install times by using fewer modules and making a more evenly illuminated sign. New applications bloomed and today we have a plethora of LED modules from tiny to large, all designed to meet the varied needs of custom illuminated signage.


2009~2010年,LED模组开始了第二次变革(这有一部分要归功于普通照明市场)。在这个阶段,流明输出大幅增长,模组安装的便利性被纳入基础设计之中。从2012年到2015年,模组制造商开始制作防水模组和添加二次光学元件,通过减少模组元件安装数量来缩短安装时间并使照明光源更加均匀。新的模组性能开始蓬勃发展,如今我们有从小到大各种各样的模组可供选择,所有定制照明标识的不同需求我们都能满足。


Commoditization


商品化


Since about 2015, we have begun one more chapter of LED sign modules—commoditization.
2015年我们又翻开了LED标识模组商品化的一章。


Today, most users assume the reliability/performance and are making buying decisions more and more on price. When I started in the industry, signs went up and were going to be there for 20+ years and well-made neon can last that long. However, our entire society has changed. Technology drove markets to move fast and so did businesses, driving constant changes in image, locations, mergers, and the overall lifetime of a business or brand. Sign fabrication had to adapt and not just with LEDs.


如今,大多数用户越来越看重模组的性能,并且会在购买时进行价格比较。当我进入这个行业的时候,这个现象就已经初现端倪,并且至少会延续20年,当然制作精良的霓虹灯也将经久不衰。但随着我们整个社会市场的变化,技术推动着市场的快速发展,因此企业也随之迅速发展,而且企业的发展就会推动其业务、形象、定位、扩张及其整个生命周期的不断变化。标识制造商必须适应这些变化,并且不仅仅只有LED模组在发生变化,一切都在悄然变化着。


Steel was replaced with lighter, lower-cost aluminum and now ACM and structural plastics. More sign companies than ever only do installations, choosing to rely on the scale of wholesale sign fabricators to provide fast and economical solutions. And it’s not just in signs.


最初的钢板被重量更轻、成本更低的铝板代替,而现在则是用ACM材料和塑料结构材料来代替铝板。比起以往只做安装工作,越来越多的标识公司选择相信大量的标识制造商,让他们提供快速且经济的解决方案。这一现象并不只出现在标识行业。


I just bought a 1964 Ford Ranchero truck and I went out to get it restored. In a city of 120,000 people there is only one guy who does real body work (and as it turns out, he's moving). Body shops are in reality panel and parts replacement shops. I could go on and on. Old timers in our industry understand the analogy.


比如,我买了一辆牌号为1964的福特农用卡车,当我拿去修理的时候,我发现在这个有着12万人口的城市里,只有一个人是在真正做着车身修理工作(然而现在他也离开了)。车身修理商店实际上就是面板和零件更换商店。我仍会继续寻找下去,我相信我们行业的老前辈会理解我的想法。

Looking at the history of the LED commoditization curve and its correlation to other technology products, there is no question that the overall bulk of the LED module market will continue to be price driven in coming years. However, price erosion on a dollar basis will be less dramatic, as the actual LED itself becomes a smaller part of the module cost. I anticipate another 25 percent reduction in average base LED costs over the next 12-24 months. This still means continued lower prices and pressure on smaller module makers to compete.


纵观LED商品化曲线的历史及LED与其他技术产品的关联,毫无疑问,LED模组市场将在未来几年里继续以价格为主导。以美元为基础的价格将不那么容易贬值,并且实际上LED本身也将成为模组成本的一小部分。我预计在未来12-24个月里LED平均成本会再下降25%,这就意味着模组的价格也会继续降低,这样的压力就会促使小型模组制造商努力竞争以获得市场份额。

Lumens and Lenses


流明和镜头


It is also important to note that the brightness (LM/ft.) of basic sign modules will likely flatten, not because they can’t be brighter, but simply that there is a lack of need. Three-inch returns are becoming commonplace and at shorter distances to the sign face, less lumens are required due to the inverse square relationship between light output and distance. For example, if you have a single LED module that is evenly lighting the face of a sign at 1,000 LUX or lumens/m2 and you begin increasing the depth of the sign, the light will drop according to the following relationship or pattern: 1” from the sign face = 1,000 LUX ; 2” =250 LUX; 3” = 111 Lux; 4” = 62.5 LUX …


这里有一个你需要注意的重要问题是,常规标识模组的亮度(LM / ft.)也许不是很高,因为它们并不需要有那么高的亮度。三英寸字槽正在变得大众化,并且字槽底部到标识面的距离也缩短了,由于光源的输出与距离之间的平方呈反比,因此需要的流明也减少了。举例来说,如果你有一个LED模组以1,000 LUX或每平方米/流明的强度均匀地照亮标识面,当你开始增加标识字槽的深度时,光源强度将按照以下关系或模式下降:距离标识面1英寸,光照强度为1,000 LUX;距离标识面2英寸,光照强度为250LUX;距离标识面3英寸,光照强度为111 LUX;距离标识面4英寸,光照强度为62.5LUX......


This means that given the same exact LED module, you need only about 25 percent of the number of modules to achieve the same brightness in a 3” depth sign as a 5” depth sign. In practice, however, there is a limit to the realistic spacing, so there is less concern with “lumens per ft.” and more with the evenness of illumination in these lower profile signs.


这意味着,给定相同数值的LED模组,只需要3英寸字槽标识的约25%模组数量即可实现与5英寸字槽标识相同的亮度。然而,实际的间距是有限定的,所以一般不考虑“流明/英尺”这个问题,而光源的照明在这些字槽深度较浅的标识中会更加均匀。


This is being achieved with batwing type optical lenses versus the traditional Lambertian pattern created from a non-optic module. The down side is the optic itself creates a greater “distance,” so technically there is still a place for non-optic modules in deeper and larger channel letters and cabinets. There are folks out there who understand this concept; however, when you are in the product life cycle phase where there is less interest in features and more interest in price, more and more customers are in the mode of “just give me something low cost that I can use for everything.”


这是在对蝙蝠翼式光学透镜在与非光学模组创建的传统朗伯图案不断比较的过程中实现的。另一方面,光学元件本身会产生更大的“距离”,因此从技术上来说,非光学模组在字槽更深、规模更大的发光字和灯箱的应用中,仍有很大的发展空间,我知道有人能够理解我的意思。然而当大众对模组的功能缺乏兴趣而仅仅是对价格感兴趣时,越来越多的客户就会进入到“给我一个普遍适用但是价格低廉的产品”的误区。


Regardless, it’s not all bleak in the module market. Commoditization means consolidation, and the market seems to be coalescing around fewer key players thus simplifying purchasing and less confusion. It also means standardization of things like white LED color temperature (4,100, 6,500, 7,100K), LED module efficiency (85-100 LM/W) and drivers (12V, 60W), making estimating, installation and service easier.


无论如何,模组市场的发展并不是一帆风顺的。商品化意味着整合,而市场似乎正在合并业务以精简出更关键的部分,从而简化采购环节并减少混乱。这也意味着白光LED色温(4,100,6,500,7,100K)、LED模组光源效率(85-100 LM / W)和驱动器(12V,60W)的标准化,会使得预算的计算、安装和维修更容易。

More Innovation


更多创新


Fortunately, there is still some innovation taking place. SloanLED has been a perennial leader in LED sign modules since the early days, and is not resting on its laurels. The company recently released its Prism module. SloanLED Prism uses a reimagined LED lens technology—a unique arrangement of micro prisms designed explicitly for channel letter modules. It produces a wide, uniform light at the sign face. SloanLED Prism is the science of optical physics combined with decades of sign industry knowledge, another SloanLED lighting breakthrough.


幸运的是,创新也在继续。从早期开始,SloanLED就一直是LED标识模组领域的领导者,并且一直在追求进步。该公司最近发布了Prism模块,SloanLED的Prism采用了一种创新设计的LED透镜技术—— 一种为发光字模组专门设计的独特微棱镜排列方式。它能够在标识表面上产生均匀的光源。SloanLED Prism是光学物理科学和几十年的标识行业知识结合的结晶,也是SloanLED照明本身的突破。


SloanLED Prism is the brightest lighting option in its class at 186 lumens per foot. The impressive lumen output and the versatility of the SloanLED Prism allows for installation into a wider range of sign depths, while also using fewer modules. 

SloanLED Prism是同类产品中最亮的照明产品,其光源效率为186流明/英尺。SloanLED Prism令人印象深刻的流明输出量和多功能性使得它可以应用于多种标识深度的安装,同时使用更少的模组元件。


“SloanLED Prism is a truly unique lens product offering for the sign industry, specifically channel letter applications,” says Ervin Cash, president and CEO of SloanLED. “Our team of engineers and our in-house optical physicist have taken micro-prism technology and applied it to LED modules in a completely new way. No feature of this product has been overlooked.”


SloanLED公司总裁兼首席执行官Ervin Cash说:“SloanLED Prism是标识行业中一款真正独特的镜头产品,特别适用于发光字。我们的工程师和我们的产品内部光学物理学家团队采用了微棱镜技术和以全新的方式将其应用于LED模组。这项产品的功能是值得重视的。”


Another bright spot (no pun intended) is that there are now several high-output modules with advanced secondary optics that are designed to light large sign cabinets with a minimal number of modules. One example is the 6W Novaluxx module from the Canadian company Global Lux. This module is 540 LM, IP67, and has an advanced optic.


另一个亮点是,现在有一些高输出模组和先进的二次光学元件被设计用于以最少数量的模组点亮大型的灯箱。例如加拿大公司Global Lux的6W Novaluxx模块。该模组的光源效率是540 LM,IP67,并具有先进的光学技术。


“A simple LED solution for single face cabinets that will light a 2' x 2' surface at 6" depth with one single 6W module. It will rock your sign,”according to Global Lux CEO Carlos Vilanova.


Global Lux首席执行官Carlos Vilanova说:“一个简单的单面灯箱LED发光解决方案,就是在6英寸深的地方使用一个6W的模组照亮2x2英尺的表面,这会让你的标识变得很亮。”

Silver Linings


新的希望


The silver lining of the commoditization era for sign manufacturers in all of this is that most all of today's LED modules perform and are priced to meet the evolving needs of the sign industry. Some of us may not like the evolution, but unfortunately, we don’t control markets—we respond to them.


标识制造商在商品化时代新的希望,就是今天大多数LED模组的性能和价格都能够满足标识行业不断变化的需求。我们中的一些人可能不喜欢这种变化,但我们不能控制市场,我们只能适应市场。

Most reputable LED module manufacturers provide third-party LM80 testing that demonstrates adequate life expectancy of the LED in exterior sign applications. This means that you don’t have to make your purchasing decisions based upon “this module feels hot” or “this module is made in country X".


大多数著名的LED模组制造商能够提供第三方LM80测试,以证明LED模组在外部标识应用中具有足够的预期寿命。这意味着你不必根据“这个模组很受欢迎”或“这个模组在某国制造”而做出购买决定。


One caution though—use manufacturers that can provide independent data. The data should be taken on the actual finished module, not just the LED inside. LM80 testing is also performed at elevated temperatures of 55°C (131°F) and 85°C (185°F).


一个谨慎的建议——制造商可以提供独立的数据。数据的采集应该在已经制作完成的模组中进行,而不是针对LED的整个内部元件。LM80测试一般是在55°C(131°F)和85°C(185°F)的高温下进行。


At Principal LED we also add a third dataset at 105°C (221°F) to ensure LED performance even in the hottest outdoor conditions. Another caution—if a manufacturer simply states that every model they make lasts 50,000 or 100,000 hours, disregard. This likely means they haven’t tested it. I recommend looking for an LM80 mark and the manufacturer should be able to provide an L70 report to give an exact extrapolated value from the specific model as sold. However, take the L70 for what it is worth – just an extrapolation. At Principal LED, when we first released our Fusion line of LED, we had zero light loss after a 6,000 hour third-party LM80 test. We would not be so arrogant to use the extrapolated L70 data and say the LED module will last indefinitely. What it does say is that the LED light output is very likely to perform beyond the typical life of the application.


我们还在105°C(221°F)的温度条件下添加了第三个数据组的信息采集来测试Principal LED,以保证即使在最热的室外条件下该LED的性能也能够支持它正常工作。另一个建议——如果一个制造商只是单纯在介绍,他们制造的每个模组的寿命均长达50,000或100,000小时,那么你可以无视掉他们的介绍,因为这可能意味着他们没有对这组模组进行测试。我建议你可以认准LM80的标志,拥有这个标志的制造商应该能够提供一个L70的报告,以提供一个确切型号的性能参考值。不过,“L70的标准是值得信任的”也只是一个推断。当我们第一次发布我们的LED Fusion系列时,我们就说过,在经过6000小时的第三方LM80测试后,我们LED的光线没有一丝的黯淡。我们不会那么盲目地使用L70数据,并表示我的LED模组寿命特别长可以一直延续下去。我会按照事实情况来做出公示,LED光源输出极有可能超出应用的原有寿命。


Just as important as the LED lifetime are other measures of mechanical integrity such as tensile strength and temperature range of the VHB tape, thermal characteristics of the housing, and ingress protection rating. These are basic considerations and due diligence that should be performed when choosing an LED module provider.


与LED使用寿命一样重要的是其它部件的完整性测试,例如VHB胶带的拉伸强度和温度范围、发光字壳体的热工特性和接入口防护等级。这些都是在选择LED模组供应商时应该思考的基本问题和要做好调查的地方。

Another Upside


新的好处


The other upside to the commoditization of LED modules is that there are now smaller and smaller price differences between Tier 1 LED manufacturers and Tier 2 / Tier 3 importers. This means that you can get high levels of service like estimating, warranty, technical service, and next day delivery through sign supply distribution without paying through the nose for that extra service. Additionally, most Tier 1 manufacturers also have a wide range of solutions for various signs, so you don’t have to use a one-size-fits-all approach. 


LED模组商品化的另一个好处是,一线LED制造商和二线/三线进口商之间的价格差异越来越小。这意味着你可以分散投资来获得高水平的服务,如预算、保修、技术服务和次日发货,而不必支付额外的服务费用。此外,大多数一线制造商也为各种有关标识的问题提供了大量的解决方案,因此你可以通过多方来获取资源。


LED modules have been a part of a systematic change in sign manufacturing over the past 15 years. It has been a manufacturing response in lock step with the sheer speed of a changing marketplace. By the way, there is a final chapter in every product life cycle that I didn’t share—the disruption phase. This is what happens when the next technology is introduced that steals market share from the previous. I just don’t know when or where it will come from.


在过去的15年中,LED模组已经成为标识制造业系统性变革的一部分,并且标识制造业一直能跟上不断变化的市场速度并作出相应的反应。每种产品的生命周期都会经历一个无法避免的阶段——中断(损毁)阶段。当下一个技术被引入时,以前的市场份额就会被分割,这种情况就会随之发生,我只是不知道何时何地会发生。


If anyone knows, please let me know!


如果有人知道,请告诉我!


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