Apr 27

OEM LED headlamps: the past, present and future

OEM headlamps are beginning to be more common in todays vehicles and its exciting to see the progression of LED technology. Its come a long way in a short period. And while the topic of overall performance vs. HID technology is still debatable, there is no debate that LEDs will soon become the superior light source for forward lighting (and all automotive exterior/interior lighting). I won't really include laser technology into the mix because its still in its infant stages and is far from being mainstream (and may never be mainstream).

As I learn and stay abreast of the offerings from the worlds top OEM automotive suppliers and their LED technology, I see that most of them all carry their version of what we here have been calling the "bi-led" projector. Which is a projector that acts just like a bi-xenon projector -- a low and high beam functioning luminaire which uses a solenoid activated shield to switch between the two beams. And actually the term "biled" is trademarked by Valeo. Other industry terms are "bi-function", "bifunctional" or "bi-beam" among others.

These biled projectors are becoming more compact that it makes retrofitting a simpler task. The Koito biled projector is the pioneer of this trend. Making a all-in-one projector that can easily mount in most headlamps without the need for external driver modules or bulky heat sinks. These LED equipped headlamps are making their way to new vehicles and then to the junkyards of America, offering plentiful options for retrofitting projects.

One interesting headlamp design I came upon today is the new 2018 Chevrolet Traverse. It was conceived by a Canada based automotive company called Magna International. A patent search reveals that back in 2009 they filed a EU patent for their "D-Optic" designed LED headlamp. Which contains 3 vertical optic lenses to shape the LED light into a suitable low and high beam pattern. Very unique and upon first looking at the design I'm immediately reminded of lighting offered by JW Speaker. The concept seems to be the same however for JW I believe its just a projector lens sitting in front of the emitter where as the Magna places the emitter closer and the light is filtered through the optic much like a celis rod.

Of course no beam shots at the moment so who knows if all this fancy optic design translates into a beam spread worthy of forum praise.

How many different ways can you produce a LED headlamp? Apparently more than one way. And that number is rising.