Michigan Lighting Companies Team Up for Efficient Lighting Design
(03/22/2012)

CANTON, Mich. — Duo-Gard and Arborlight LLC, two Michigan companies focused on energy-efficient lighting technology, have teamed up to develop lighting integration techniques that increase efficiency.

The technical partnership between Canton-based Duo-Gard, an architectural illumination and translucent daylighting systems provider, and Arborlight LLC, an Ann Arbor-based custom lighting developer specializing in LED technology, is expected by the companies to satisfy a broad range in the lighting market.

Together, the companies are working to illuminate translucent architectural materials — including walls, ceilings and panels — with higher energy efficiency, lower cost and custom aesthetics.

“Architectural elements … lend themselves well to translucent materials — such as multiwall polycarbonates and acrylics — which can transmit and diffuse the sun's natural light during the day and can then be LED-lit from within for nighttime light and design aesthetics,” said Dave Miller, president of Duo-Gard.

With partial funding from the University of Michigan’s commercialization program, the first products are currently in the prototype stage.

Currently, a longstanding challenge is that DuoGard’s current illumaWall system requires a four-inch-thick frame to house the translucent panel sheets and LED lighting track, which limits the designer’s creative flexibility, according to officials the company.

The two companies are using a light distribution technique developed by Arborlight that significantly reduces the space required between the lighting and the translucent panels creating walls, ceilings and canopies — resulting in a profile of only two inches for greater design versatility.

“In fact, Duo-Gard and Arborlight are working toward an even thinner frame requirement to enhance that versatility,” Miller said. “This also promises to make the system more economical.”

The integrated panel lighting and translucent materials will provide diffused natural light during the day, which eliminates glare and heat gain from the sun’s direct rays.

The backlit illumination at night provides soft static illumination or dramatic color-changing accents, depending on the designer's goals.

Michael Forbis, CEO of Arborlight, said while LEDs have proven successful, new technology allows building managers greater control in brightness and thermal management.

“In today’s buildings, energy is a dominant factor, and daylighting is becoming more critical,” he said. “Integrating systems that harvest natural light by day and provide illumination at night will become standard in the next generation of buildings.”

The engineering of the LED systems will combine intensities desired with patterns and colors to satisfy architecture’s aesthetic demands, he said.

The LED technologies will also enable Duo-Gard to enhance its illumaWall line of plug-and-play, color-changing systems for translucent panels.

Together, the companies plan to develop other technologies ranging from architectural lighting to functional lighting incorporating a blend of optics and building materials.

“Duo-Gard and Arborlight have similar interests and motivation,” said Michael Forbis, CEO of Arborlight. “We’re both Michigan-based companies involved in clean technology aimed at improving energy efficiency. The integration of our technologies is a natural step in sustainability.”

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