Signify prints 9000 lights for Bogota airport

Oct. 29, 2021
It uses industrial scale 3-D processes to minimize supply chain machinations and cut down on excess material and parts.

It might sound like a paradox: Environmentally conscious Signify is eliminating plastic from consumer packaging, but meanwhile, it has turned to the stuff to make luminaires.

Riddle solved: Signify is manufacturing products — such as the nearly 9000 downlights now in operation at Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport — using 3-D printing.

And 3-D printing, compared to conventional manufacturing processes, is said to be kinder to the planet because it minimizes waste and cuts down on supply chains. The process applies materials such as the polycarbonate that Signify used for El Dorado, layering it until just the right amount is reached, avoiding excess.

To be clear, the industrial scale 3-D printers at Signify’s factory in Turnhout, Belgium are not producing optics and electronics. Rather, they are making luminaire housings. And in that respect Signify estimates that the process slashes the carbon footprint by 75%.

“A typical 3-D printed luminaire (excluding electronics and optics) has a 75% lower carbon footprint than a conventionally fabricated metal fixture,” the company said in announcing that it has supplied the airport with 8941 3-D printed downlights.

Not only does the 3-D process cut down on the use of screws and other parts, but the polycarbonate is “100% recyclable,” Signify said, adding that it uses color materials which eliminate the need to apply paint.

Our goal is to be a benchmark in energy efficiency and sustainable operations in Colombia and Latin America,” said Mauricio Vélez, infrastructure manager for Operadora Aeroportuaria Internacional (OPAIN), the Colombian Swiss consortium that operates the airport. “For this reason, were excited to have installed the latest innovation in lighting with 3-D printed downlights and to be the regional pioneer when it comes to remote management of the lighting infrastructure.”

The 4-month installation project was completed last March, Signify said. It described the project as a “first phase.” The company declined to elaborate for LEDs Magazine on what any subsequent phases might entail.

The Turnhout factory in Belgium also manufactures high-intensity discharge (HID lighting) and horticultural lighting products, using conventional manufacturing techniques.

Signify has implemented an aggressive set of practices aimed at environmental friendliness. Measures have included eliminating plastic from consumer packaging and 100% use of renewable electricity for its own operations as it aims to outpace general United Nations environmental goals.

Hot Topics: Environmental stewardship, 3-D printing, and circular economy

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MARK HALPER  is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

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