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January 12, 2024
2 Min Read
Laser light coupled with optical fibers generates an impressive rear lighting effect.Image courtesy of Marelli
Mobility technology supplier to the automotive sector Marelli selected CES 2024 in Las Vegas to launch its LeanLight headlight and rear light concepts. Compared with traditional automotive lighting, the products feature up to 20% fewer components, a 20% reduction in weight, and a 6 kg reduction in CO2 emissions.
Systems based on Marelli’s Lean platforms are primarily pre-developed, leaving room for automakers to customize certain features. This module-based platform approach targets entry-level vehicles, brands, and trim levels, and is designed to appeal to budget-oriented consumers and fleet buyers.
The introduction of a new injection molding process for the LeanLight contributes to lighter weight and reduced energy consumption, while a newly developed surface treatment solution eliminates the need for a chemical coating, further contributing to sustainability benefits.
LeanDisplay shows its colors
Besides the LeanLight system, Marelli simultaneously launched its LeanDisplay portfolio at CES 2024. This system offers advanced local dimming performance at a much lower price point, in addition to an improved sustainability footprint. A 40% weight reduction and improved CO2 results were achieved by adopting a design-for-manufacturing approach resulting in 60% fewer components, optimization of the backlight technology through a combination of LEDs and proprietary lenses, and localization of the supply chain.
Laser-lit rear light earns innovation award
Marelli brought one more innovation to CES 2024 in the guise of its Red Laser & Optical Fiber Rear Lamp (pictured above), which garnered a CES 2024 Innovation Award, to boot. The Tier I claims to be the first lighting manufacturer to develop and bring to market red laser technology paired with rear lighting functionality. To produce the lamp, Marelli coupled a red laser diode with optical sidelight fibers within the laser. The result is a very thin illuminated line that gives OEMs the flexibility to create unique and stylish brand signatures.
Marelli developed this technology for a German luxury vehicle manufacturer with very specific requirements — the carmaker wanted a unique night-time appearance using thin suspended light guides no more than 1 mm in diameter. State-of-the-art light guides could not be used, as they are about 6 mm in diameter and not aesthetically suitable for the application. Optical fibers offer more design flexibility in that they can achieve different shapes and curves using light. They also guarantee homogeneity, which can't be achieved with a larger plastic light guide.
The decorative fibers occupy very little space while giving the appearance of multiple illuminated lines. The fibers can be considered a standard component that can be reused with a different design and position around the entire periphery of the vehicle.
The laser and optical fiber combination is truly unique in that it supports styling flexibility while being sustainable, because of its power efficiency and reduced weight. To achieve the same illumination and homogeneity using LEDs as the light source would consume three time more power. Laser technology also enables a "speckle" effect along the fibers, resulting in a distinguishing appearance never before seen in a rear lamp.
About the Author(s)
Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and a proud dachshund owner.
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