Spread the Sparkle
Fiberoptics are a shimmering, heat-free lighting alternative
Illuminating objects accurately in a close space is a specialty of fiberoptic
lighting, an emerging favorite among display-case designers and interior
Fiberoptic lighting systems use an "illuminator," or electric
light source, stored separately from the lighted space to feed light through
bundled glass or acrylic fibers. Because of the lamp's distance, fiberoptic
lighting emits no heat or ultraviolet rays, so there's no risk of displayed
objects fading or melting; cosmetics and food retailers or decorators who
use fresh flowers find fiberoptics especially useful, according to an article
in Display & Design Ideas.Placement of the lights is flexible
even underwater, because the fibers contain no electricity.
The technology also creates a dazzling sparkle, especially when decorators
choose their illuminators based on the objects they want to light. Metal
halide illuminators work wonders on fine jewelry and crystal, while an incandescent
lamp is best for gold and chocolate, the article suggests. The fibers direct
light onto subjects precisely.
Fiberoptic lighting technology is evolving, and lighting researchers
are still developing standards. Therefore, lighting companies have only
started to move beyond generic fixtures to introduce more customized lights,
says Architectural Lighting Magazine.Side emitting "light pipes"
and "eyeballs" (socketed, mountable units) are popular fixtures
for retail display cases.
Lighting systems are still somewhat expensive (about $5 to $15 per foot
for fibers and $400 to $1,000 for illuminators), but one system can light
several spaces, and prices are steadily dropping, the magazine says. Brightness
is a concern also: lack of standards have given fiberoptics the reputation
for being unreliable, but manufacturers say moving toward standard photometric
data will make fiberoptics comparable to standard light sources.
by Stacey King
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.