Our previous posts have discussed the new advantages for electronic manufacturers when they procure LED light pipes in a modular framework. The innovative Modular Light Pipe System (MLPS) combines many light conduits in a device into a single part.

When engineering multiple LED indicators into casings and control panels, manufacturers gain another set of advantages of the MLPS. Efficiency gains in space, power, and time present significant incentives for device makers to adapt the modular method.

Light Pipes, Consolidated

First let’s review an example of how the MLPS works, specifically:  how it differs from the use of employing individual light pipes.

Say, for instance, a scientific instrument has a total of 12 LED indicators to communicate information to user. Best practices today would recommend an arrangement of all 12 together on the printed circuit board (PCB) lined up in a matrix, in rows and columns of 2×6 or maybe 3×4.

This practice makes maximal use of board real estate. It does not matter that the LEDs are grouped adjacent to each other with the use of light pipes. Bivar’s ZeroLightBleedTM technology prevents different color wavelengths from mixing.

Before the introduction of modularity, device manufacturers ordered each rigid light pipe with specified dimensions for the device. Assemblers would install 12 separate pipes between the board and the control panel. Not only that, each light pipe would require two mounting holes each to install the ZeroLightBleed™ adapter if you chose a firm-retention option. This means, the assembler will need to create 24 mounting holes before installing each light pipe.

The modular system, by contrast, holds the 12 light pipes in a harness in the same configuration as the LEDs. Rather than secure attachment at each LED, the 3×4 bevel frame mounts to the board around the border of the matrix. With the rail l that is holding the light pipes together, you will only need 4 mounting holes instead of 24, saving you assembly time.

Space Efficiency for LED layouts

Electrical engineers continually look for ways to free up more area on the PCB, either to achieve more compact devices or to remain flexible over the course of the development process, should components need to be added or rearranged.

Designing LED functions in a matrix or an array, as we mentioned, saves board space when using light pipes. But using the modular light pipe system saves space even more — up to 40 percent more than the previous pipe-by-pipe method.

With the light pipes harnessed a frame, engineers can now design the placement of LEDs closer together, since mounting space around each individual light are no longer required. The Rail-and-Tower or Bezel design options in MLPS keep the pipes in place with mounts along the margins. This not only means much fewer manual tasks during assembly, it also takes up less area on the board.

Electrical Efficiency

Designing with Bivar’s modular system for light pipes can also relieve power consumption demands.

ZeroLightBleed™ technology optimizes the efficient transfer of light from the LED to the outer display, delivering maximum brightness. This lossless output permits engineering teams to employ lower-consumption LEDs and still maintain effective, legible indicators.

This lower draw on system power may not matter in the case on a single indicator, but in the case of an instrument with 12 LEDs, this can add up to discernable savings, extending battery life or leaving more surplus in the power budget for other electronic features.

Production Efficiency

Perhaps the biggest draw for manufacturers to the MLPS methodology is the efficiency gains found in procurement and production. Bivar initially conceived the system to streamline customization and assembly of light pipe designs in the end product.

First, all the light pipe needs for a project can be ordered at the same time. The dimensions, pipe type, lens, and mounting style as well as the matrix size can be entered on the Bivar configurator page. The configurator also provides you the freedom to choose any configurations that may fit in your design, rather than spending time searching the web for a different option specific to your configuration, you can build it easily with Bivar’s MLPS. MLPS pipes can be ordered in small quantities for prototypes or large volumes for production from the same portal for the same low price.

Second, the package delivered to the factory contains a single pre-configured component, ready to click into place. This prepared assembly saves the manufacturer from potential confusion and error when receiving cartons of 12 different pipes that all look roughly the same.

Attaching the 3×4 harness bevel or rail-and-tower points requires far fewer steps than adhering each of the 12 pipes to LEDs separately. This speeds up the assembly process, shaving off days of meticulous manual work off the schedule — and the labor costs.

Go Modular and Start Saving

MLPS systems represent a more advanced way to employ light pipes, which have already proved an essential innovation to communicate safety and critical information to users. Now that you can order the entirety of light pipe requirements for a project as a single, standardized component, you can start to build in new efficiencies into your next project.

Find out more about the MLPS in Bivar’s overview video.