Efficiency drives LED market acceptance, Verbatim manager says
Being a member of the Mitsubishi group, Verbatim obtains materials and technology from Mitsubishi Chemicals which disposes of rather advanced LED materials expertise. Within the Mitsubishi concern, Verbatim has assumed the task of building up the market for lighting solutions, Chrobak-Kando said. This includes LED manufacturing with selected partners. "We have products which are based on Mitsubishi Chemicals technology. Currently we are about to prepare for launching a product based on Mitsubishi Chemicals technology," Chrobak-Kando said. With these products however, the company plans to serve certain niche markets – advanced applications for demanding customers such as shop lighting or museum lighting.
For mass markets, the company relies on project partners. While the company manufactures and sells products aiming at replacing incandescent bulbs, the focus is on marketing complete lamps. "Our target group includes, for instance, luminary manufacturers and electrical equipment suppliers." Chrobak-Kando said.
The company is also active in the promising field of Organic LEDs (OLEDs). In this segment, Mitsubishi is already in a joint venture with Japanese company Pioneer. The sets of expertise between these two companies are rather complimentary: Pioneer has significant manufacturing experience (albeit with focus on displays rather than purely lighting products) while Mitsubishi Chemicals brings in the materials knowhow.
While OLEDs can be used for lighting purposes much like their silicon counterparts, there remain some challenges which limit their applications options. For instance, the performance of OLEDs varies relatively strong with temperature. What’s more, they are very sensitive to humidity. "For this reason, we do not see OLEDs in street lighting projects at the moment", Chrobak-Kando said. "With their pleasant, glare-free lighting, OLEDs are more suited for home and decorative lighting applications".
A unique selling proposal of Verbatim is its ability to create OLEDs that simply are different. "Everybody produces white OLEDs – we make devices with variable colors," said Chrobak-Kando. This technology works much like displays with three OLEDs in the primary colors; in order to produce the desired color, the three primary colors are mixed in a variable ratio. "Basically, for a color-variable OLED, the pixels are side by side. For a white OLED, the three primary colors are layered vertically. "With this features, OLEDs are well suited for decorative lighting and background lighting. Downlight applications could be implemented as hybrid solutions with a combination of OLEDs and conventional LEDs. "OLEDs are also easy to integrate into architectural elements -in furniture, for example", Chrobak-Kando said.
The development of LEDs and OLEDs currently gyrates about price level and efficiency. "In the LED development, the efficiency clearly is the driving factor," she said. Nevertheless, the price is an equally important factor. "In order to increase acceptance, the price for LED-based solutions has to come down," Chrobak-Kando explained. Also the education of the target groups is important. "Electricians need to be trained better", the market development manager believes. But in order to improve the acceptance, there are also other parameters – the products. "They need to become simpler, more intuitive."
With respect to OLEDs, the focus is slightly different. Besides efficiency and pricing, longevity and reliability is another topic for developers. And the OLEDs as a volume product will likely be different from what many believe it will be. "Ten years ago, everybody imagined OLED as "lighting wall papers" or luminous windows. This has not materialized and perhaps never will. "From this goal, we are still way off".
Is Verbatim solely focused on mass markets? No, Chrobak-Kando says. "We have seen interest from various industries, including automotive. But these are long-term perspectives. We want to be open for all industries".