Spread the Sparkle

April 1999


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 decorators.

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.


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