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Arkema commercializes new acrylic for LED lighting

By: Frank Esposito

April 29, 2013

PHILADELPHIA — Arkema Group has commercialized a new grade of acrylic resin that is better suited to handle modern LED lighting.

Arkema — based in Colombes, France, with U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia — began making Plexiglas Diffuse-brand resins in March at its plant in Bristol, Pa. Production of the materials at an Arkema plant in Rho, Italy, will begin in May.

The material can diffuse light in LED applications without compromising overall light transmission, officials said. Typical applications for Diffuse-brand resins include architectural and indoor commercial lighting.

"The standard product had been a frosted-type product," LED lighting business development director Michael Lamarra said in a recent phone interview. "But it just didn't have enough diffusing power for LED emitters, which are very bright and produce an intense amount of light."

In order to get more diffusing power, lighting makers had been adding white color concentrates to acrylic resins, but doing so was hurting the products' light transmission rates by 15-30 percent, he added.

Diffuse-brand resins now can provide better performance in what Lamarra described as "places where glare will hurt your eyes."

The materials also offer outstanding UV resistance and weatherability and excellent surface gloss and scratch resistance, officials said. The resins also can easily be extruded, injection-molded, thermoformed or cut. They're recyclable and are available in smooth or textured surfaces on extruded lenses.

LED lighting applications are expected to average 12 percent annual growth between 2011 and 2017, Arkema officials said, with commercial applications making up the largest single LED end market.