Test Your Custom LCD and LED Technology IQ
By Yasoob Ahmed, Director of OEM Products, Lumex, Inc.
One of the most significant developments in the global optoelectronics and display markets over the past few years has been a complete revolution in the value proposition offered by custom technologies. Recent technological advancements have radically redefined industry notions about the inherent benefits and drawbacks of custom, versus standard, technologies.
Understanding how custom technology has evolved, the unique benefits that it provides end users, and the process through which high-quality LED (light-emitting diode) and LCD (liquid crystal display) suppliers create custom solutions can be of enormous benefit to OEMs and brand owners. Why? Because it can help speed time to market, identify cost savings, improve product performance, and enhance brand differentiation.
Go ahead and test your knowledge of custom LED and LCD technology by answering the questions below.
True or False: Custom LED and LCD technologies cost more than standard, "off-the-shelf" equivalents
In the past, custom technologies were often more expensive than their "off-the-shelf" counterparts due to the need to create custom tooling and to pay for design engineering expertise for product design. Happily, this is no longer the case. Advancements in software technology and the utilization of powerful 3D CAD software have made it possible to reach the final design without spending additional funds on premature concept designs. And as technological advancements have significantly brought down the cost of tooling materials, many quality LCD and LED suppliers have started offering complimentary design engineering support to customers looking to create custom solutions. These developments, combined with the many process-simplifying and performance-enhancing benefits of custom technology, mean that custom technologies are often less expensive than standard technologies over a product lifetime.
The ability of a high-quality supplier to identify the most effective technology for a particular application and create a streamlined production process that integrates various components (such as light pipes, switches, connectors, and PCBs) in the most efficient way possible generates cost savings in a number of different ways.
As a single custom LCD or LED supplier can provide a comprehensive custom solution, the number of suppliers needed is reduced, reducing procurement costs.
Acquiring various components through a single supplier allows for a single bill of materials, simplifying accounting processes and reducing transaction costs.
As high-quality LCD and LED providers today offer complimentary product integration support for custom technologies, expense on design engineering is saved as design engineers no longer need to spend time and money researching individual components and integrating them in a way that ensures maximum efficiency. In addition to saving expense on design engineering, this also saves time on product development and speeds time to market.
Cost savings can also be achieved through more efficient technologies. Because the product is custom-tailored to specific application requirements, cost savings are achieved by identifying the components that most exactly fit specific product demands. For example, energy savings can be generated if a high output / low power consumption technology can meet and fulfill all performance expectations, rather than over spending on high power that is not needed.
True or False: Custom LED and LCD technologies are now available with faster delivery times
The time it takes to deliver a custom solution—from product design through delivery and production—has also been dramatically reduced in recent years. As custom tooling has been simplified and quality suppliers have developed expertise in the specific challenges of custom technology development, processes have been streamlined, resulting in shorter lead times. And while moving away from manual to automation (in cutting, scribing, and curing, for example) has streamlined the process, more highly developed, rapid prototype machines are now available to validate the final design. Previously, a custom technology could have a lead time of three to four months; whereas, today, custom technologies can have lead times as short as six weeks.
True or False: Custom LED and LCD technologies are less reliable in performance than standard technologies
It is also no longer appropriate to view custom technologies as less reliable than standard products. Over the past several years, high-quality suppliers have developed significant expertise in developing consistently high-quality custom technology. A good supplier can deliver LEDs with less than 50 to 100 parts per million (PPM) failure rates.
Due to their expertise in custom product design and integration, a high-quality LCD or LED supplier can provide technology that meets and exceeds performance expectations in a number of ways.
Enhanced reliability and fewer instances of premature product failure (reduced "infant mortality") are achieved when experts identify and integrate the most efficient and effective components—in the most streamlined manner—into a total solution.
Enhanced reliability is also achieved by utilizing clean rooms from class 10,000 to class 1000, decreasing the number of premature product failures and increasing yield.
Because the technology is custom designed for a particular application, it can be created with custom wavelengths or optics to match application needs in a way that off-the-shelf technologies cannot match.
The ability to acquire a custom technology with unique performance abilities enhances brand differentiation and allows products to stand out in crowded markets.
True or False: It is difficult to find a custom LED or LCD supplier who will understand my exact needs
One good way to identify a quality LCD or LED technology provider is to study their custom product development process. The following three steps should be offered by a high-quality provider.
Focus On Application Needs
The first step of a custom design process should always be to ask questions in order to understand exactly what the customer's needs are for a particular application. Rather than pushing a customer towards a particular product solution already in their portfolio, a high-quality supplier will instead focus on customer needs and identify a solution that is custom-tailored to an application's specific performance and cost requirements.
Provide Expert Design Support
A high-quality supplier will provide expert and complimentary product design support, and is flexible enough to provide this support in the way that best matches the application needs. For example, a high-quality supplier is ready to design a solution from scratch or help tweak an existing product design. Several design options should be presented that meet and exceed expectations. Also, a high-quality supplier provides complimentary custom product design support for small, medium, and large volume products.
Streamline Entire Production Process
Custom product development is not completed until the product has passed through the entire production process—from in-bound inspection, to production, to in-field performance. A high-quality supplier not only provides tips on how to streamline the entire production process for maximum efficiency, but also has experts available worldwide to provide assistance in each step of the process. This helps ensure that the custom product—designed for maximum efficiency and performance—can, in fact, provide superior performance as the product moves out of design and into production and distribution. High-quality LCD and LED suppliers have representatives worldwide to guide products out of the development process and through production in tangent with any contract manufacturers or other production partners.
In today's unique marketplace, where design engineers must meet the growing demand for LCD and LED technologies with reduced resources due to global economic conditions, it is key to stay up to date with the very latest being offered in the way of custom technologies. Identifying a high-quality custom LCD or LED supplier can have a significant impact in obtaining the best possible technology for your specific performance needs.
About the Author
Yasoob Ahmed is Director of OEM Products at Lumex Inc. (www.lumex.com). He has over 15 years expertise in the design and creation of custom LCD and LED technologies.
Lumex, Inc., headquartered in Palatine, Ill., is a global designer and manufacturer of high efficiency, leading-edge optoelectronic components, devices, and displays. The company provides a broad range of high efficiency, high-performance LEDs and LCDs, with a focus on semi-custom and custom designs and an optical range encompassing a wide spectrum, including UV, visible, and infrared wavelengths. Lumex, which also offers a wide range of standard products, has put together a team of technical design specialists that are said to be "experts in collaboratively developing effective, smart solutions from the most complex design dilemmas."
Lumex is part of the ITW Photonics Group, which builds on the technical expertise of individual companies that specialize in photonics technology and span the full spectrum of wavelengths. The group (www.itwphotonicsgroup.com), a global provider of photonics components, assemblies, and systems, also includes Cal Sensors, Inc. (www.calsensors.com), and Opto Diode Corp. (www.optodiode.com).
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