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Flexible LED Lighting



OBJECTIVE: Develop a Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting system on flexible substrates that have small form factor, low weight, low power consumption, and low heat output. The systems are intended for use in Marine Corps soft-wall and rigid wall shelters. 

DESCRIPTION: The Marine Corps has used LED lighting systems in soft-wall and rigid-wall shelters. Testing has shown that current LED lighting has not provided the energy efficiencies and cost savings originally desired. Output from the current LED technology is less than fluorescent lighting, requiring more LED lights to reach equivalent lighting levels. Additionally, the color/wavelength of many of the LED systems causes headaches and eye fatigue. The current LED lights also create more heat than fluorescents, adding thermal load to shelter interiors. The LED lights are also heavy and large. The objective of this SBIR topic is to develop new LED lighting technology based on printed or micro LEDs that can be affixed to thin, flexible substrates less than 0.125 inches thick. A single LED shall not have a panel area greater than 1 ft2. The weight would be less than 1lb./ft2. The lights shall provide a light output range of 10-1100lux. Optimal performance will be 540lux, at 30 inches above the floor. For a Command Operations Center (COC) or Office, a single LED light shall be capable of producing 325lux Threshold (T) or 540lux Objective (O) in Day Mode; 30lux (T) or 55lux (O) in Blackout Mode. For General Purpose, a single LED light shall be capable of producing 110lux (T) or 215lux (O) in Day Mode; 10lux (T) or 20lux (O) in Blackout Mode. The operating color for the white, or Day Mode, lighting shall be between 3600K and 5000K. In blackout mode, the LED output shall meet the chromaticity requirements of u'=.180, v'=.500, and r'=.055 using 1976 Uniform chromaticity scale. No more than 5% of the total energy emitted shall be above 700 nanometers and begin as close to 600 nanometers as possible. 95% of the total energy should be confined within 400-600 nanometers. The lights shall have individual control via on/off and Day Mode/Blackout Mode switches. The lights shall be capable of being “daisy chained” together, via power cords. The lights shall be powered from 120 VAC 50/60Hz, or 12-24 VDC. The maximum power draw per light, shall be less than 20W in Day Mode, and 10W in Blackout Mode. The lights shall be water tight. The lights shall be capable of operating in ambient temperatures from -40°F to +125°F. The lights shall be capable of being stored in ambient temperatures from -50°F to +160°F. The operating temperature for the LED lights, in Day Mode, shall be less than 101°F. 

PHASE I: The company will develop concepts for a flexible LED lighting system that meet the requirements described above. The company will demonstrate the feasibility of the concepts in meeting Marine Corps needs and will establish that the concepts can be developed into a useful product for the Marine Corps. Feasibility will be established by material testing and analytical modeling, as appropriate. Examples of the modeling and testing would include, but not be limited to, modeling of signal attenuation, structure and weight reduction, thermal resistance, and coupon testing. The small business will provide a Phase II development plan with performance goals, key technical milestones, manufacturing processes and capabilities, and that will address technical and manufacturing risk reduction. This Phase II plan will also include specifications for a prototype. 

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the small business will develop a prototype evaluation. The prototype, along with the manufacturing processes, will be evaluated to determine capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II development plan and the Marine Corps requirements for the flexible LED lighting system. System performance, and cost effectiveness, will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters including numerous deployment cycles. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype and manufacturing methodology into an initial design that will meet Marine Corps requirements. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Marine Corps use. 

PHASE III: Upon successful completion of Phase II, the company will be expected to support the Marine Corps in transitioning the technology for Marine Corps use. The company will develop the flexible LED lighting system for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The company will support the Marine Corps for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Marine Corps use. Flexible LED lighting has direct application in home, commercial, industrial, and automotive lighting. The application of color LEDs can provide displays for marketing, point of sale, and advertising. Flexible LED lighting strips can be used for personal lighting devices (e.g., first responders, military, police, and recreational). 


1: Department of Defense. MIL-PRF-44259E, Performance Specification, Light Set, Portable, Fluorescent. 29 June 2009.

2:  Department of Defense. MIL-STD-810G, Environmental Engineering Considerations and Laboratory Tests. 31 October 2008.

3:  Department of Defense. MIL-STD-1472G, Design Criteria Standard, Human Engineering. 11 January 2012.

4:  USON for Energy Efficient Light Emitting Diode (LED) Lighting. Quantico, VA. 29 November 2010.

5:  Underwriters Laboratories. UL 8752, Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) Panels. 13 June 2012.

6:  "Nth Light." Nth Degree Technologies Worldwide Inc. 31 July 2017.

7:  "PiXey." Rohinni LLC. 31 July 2017.

8:  "Flexible type, 400 x 50MM." LG Display. 2014.

KEYWORDS: LED; OLED; Micro LED; Printed LED; Flexible LED; Organic LED; Light Panels 


David Keeler 

(703) 432-5771 

Jason Miller 

(703) 784-0917 

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