Bayer develops thinner polycarbonate for LED lenses

Sept. 13, 2010
Makrolon FR7067 polycarbonate plastic achieves UL flame retardant requirements in 1.5-mm-thick LED lenses that offer near 90% light transmission.
Bayer MaterialScience has developed a new polycarbonate plastic for LED lenses – especially for solid-state-lighting (SSL) applications - that can meet the UL-94 V0 ratings for flame-retardant characteristic at half the thickness of most polycarbonate lenses. Lenses made with the 1.5-mm-thick Makrolon FR7067 material can improve light transmission efficiency to almost 90%.

"Thicker lenses or covers translate into an unnecessarily heavier and bulkier part. This additional thickness is also undesirable because more light will be lost as it is transmitted through the lens or cover, making the component less efficient," said Gerry DiBattista, market segment leader, IT, Electrical/Electronics Polycarbonates, Bayer MaterialScience LLC. "When it comes to LED lenses and covers, thinner is better."

DiBattista's first point is that OEMs and injection-molding specialists enjoy a significant cost advantage when a lens uses less material. The fact that you get better light transmission adds to that advantage.

The LED lens doesn't necessarily have to meet flammability standards, but there is a payoff for a lens that does. DiBattista said, "Another added benefit is that when a lens meets the required UL flame ratings, the OEM can avoid costly power-supply isolation or a separate UL test on the final component."

Bayer is also quick to point out that its lenses add to the environmentally-friendly characteristics of LED lighting. The polycarbonate material is amenable to recycling, reprocessing, and reuse. That characteristic fits well with the fact that LEDs reduce energy usage in lighting applications and don't contain hazardous materials such as mercury.

"Bayer MaterialScience’s latest flame retardant polycarbonate plastic provides OEMs a transparent, UV-stabilized material that not only meets key industry guidelines and regulations but does so with a thinner profile and environmental benefits, too," DiBattista said.

Last year, Bayer introduced Makrolon FR7087 polycarbonate, which meets UL-94 5VA rating at 3.0 mm with good transparency.

"This builds on several other new products geared toward this industry, underscoring our commitment to support advances in the LED lighting industry," concluded DiBattista.