Custom Light Pipe Capabilities

Our team offers custom LED light pipe design

Custom Light Pipe Design

Custom design services to optimize output and indication

Core Capabilities

Light pipes are clear tubes that transmit light from a light source, such as an LED to a user interface. Designed to carry light short distances with high efficiency, light pipes can bend light around corners and tight spaces delivering excellent visual indication with minimal loss of light intensity.

Even with all of the design options available in standard flexible and rigid light pipes, there’s still plenty of need for a custom light pipe solution. Having a custom light pipe designed for your application may seem expensive, but you may be surprised at how affordable a custom design can be, often ranging from $500 to $5,000 (not including tooling costs). Before you enlist the help of an engineer for a custom light pipe, you’ll need an idea of the following:

  • Number of colors needed in LED
  • Number of indicators on device
  • Specifics on working environment
  • Desired illumination intensity
  • Desired viewing angle
  • How far away the light indicator needs to be viewed
  • Do you need help with design and production, or just design?
  • Estimated annual usage of device (EAU)
  • Budget and timing
  • Access to design files and lighting specs (existing designs only)

 

Light Pipe Brochure

Get our latest light pipe brochure

Light Pipe Design Process

Core Capabilities

Like with any new product design, the decisions made early in the process can shape some of the constraints that must be accommodated later in the process, from the size of the light pipe to the type of material used. When the design has been perfected, the light pipe moves into production where it will be ready for assembly within a few weeks. The whole process can take as little as 2 weeks or as long as 12 — it all depends on the complexity of the design. VCC collaborates with product designers to deliver custom solutions that exceed their expectations. Here’s how the process works:

Engineering Drawing

A team of engineers collaborates with OEMs and designers to establish goals and optical requirements. VCC works closely with you to prepare detailed drawings, parts lists, and circuit schematics. 

Light Simulation

VCC offers a full suite of custom light pipe design and testing services. Using the latest light modeling software, our team can run light simulations, such as ray tracing to track the path of light through the light pipe to deliver the ideal solution. The design is then revised and optimized until the ideal optical requirements are met.

Light Pipe Prototype

VCC helps you cut development times using rapid prototyping techniques for plastic components. We use a 3D printer to prototype the light pipe and further test prior to tooling the custom solution, ensuring the ideal viewing angle and lighting properties are achieved.  

What to Consider When Choosing a Light Pipe

Core Capabilities

Product design

• How many indicators are needed?
• How far apart will the power source and LED be?
• How will the light pipe be mounted?
• How far does the light need to travel? Around curves and angles?
• How much room on board or panel?

Application Environment

It may seem obvious, but environment plays a huge role in machine reliability and operation. Before landing on a light pipe, ask yourself, “Where will the device be used?”

• Outdoor and high-moisture environments
• High-vibration environments
• Programmable power unit
• Storage and operating temperatures

Light Pipe Position

Of course, light pipe position can impact the light properties. To minimize light loss, a general rule is to use an LED with a narrow viewing angle of 160 degrees or less and position the light pipe and LED no more than 0.05” apart.

Light Pipes FAQs

Most frequently asked questions regarding light pipes

Core Capabilities

No matter the industry or application, the right illuminated components can make all the difference in improving the human-machine interaction, which ultimately leads to better outcomes.

To help designers and engineers make more strategic lighting decisions early on, we’ve developed the following list of frequently asked questions when it comes to light pipes.

1. What types of light pipes does VCC offer?
VCC offers clients an extensive light pipe portfolio with solutions for essentially every need and design configuration.

If your product requires a custom design, our team can develop the ideal solution, then test and prototype it before production.

Rigid – light pipes made of optical-grade polycarbonate or acrylic that can be vertical or right-angle in orientation. Rigid light pipes are designed to move light short distances.

Flexible – light pipes made of fiber optic material that can be bent to up to 30 degrees to accommodate the design. Flexible light pipes are designed to move light longer distances than rigid versions.

Board mount – light pipes that are mounted to the printed circuit board (PCB) at the power source of the device. VCC offers board mount products for rigid and right angle light pipes.

Surface mount – light pipes that are mounted to the control panel of the device instead of the PCB. VCC offers both flexible and rigid light pipes that can be surface mounted.

2. Does VCC customize to the standard light pipes?
VCC can customize our existing light pipe products, depending on the application, requirements and light specifications needed. In some cases, a fully customized solution may be more cost-effective than modifying an existing design. Our team is happy to assist you in exploring customization options for your light pipe needs.
3. Does VCC offer fully custom light pipes and light pipe design services?
Yes, VCC offers a full suite of custom light pipe design and testing services. Using the latest light modeling software, our team can run light simulations, such as ray tracing to track the path of light through the light pipe to deliver the ideal solution.

We can also use a 3D printer to prototype the light pipe and further test prior to tooling the custom solution, ensuring the ideal viewing angle and lighting properties are achieved.

Light Pipe Design Guide

Questions regarding light pipe design? View our light pipe design guide
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