Flexbright Ltd, which commercialises innovative LED foils, also illuminates objects which could not previously be lit due to technical limitations. This is enabling completely new types of innovation and design.
For example, LED foils can be embedded in interior design elements, fabrics, structures, walls, glass and furniture. The technology has numerous applications into which its thin, flexible, transparent and durable elements can be smoothly fitted.
“In many applications, such as aircraft, cars and even lifts, lightness is the current buzzword. The first product development projects have focused on the lighting of such objects, which are of major novelty value. The replacement of traditional light sources will be a huge source of future volume sales,” says Pekka Makkonen, CEO of Flexbright.
Intelligence and wirelessness inside
The lighting technology used in the company’s LED foils was developed in close cooperation with VTT and the PrintoCent industrial cluster based in Oulu.
The technology is based on roll-to-roll mass production, high illumination power, IoT properties, low energy consumption and an ultra-thin, flexible structure less than 1 mm in thickness. Use of light-weight structures enables savings in raw materials.
The flexible lighting foil has high resistance to heat and humidity. Intelligent and wireless control enables the use of applications based on the Internet of Things.
“The foils can be coupled with sensors and controlled wirelessly. The thin, flexible films provide designers with wholly new possibilities in lighting design,” says Head of Research Area Raimo Korhonen of VTT.
In addition, the lighting environment can be controlled as part of overall building automation.
”LED foils may well conquer the global market,” affirm Atte Varsta (left) and Pekka Makkonen, the lead figures in Flexbright.
Investing in the Oulu region
Flexbright’s LED foils, which exploit the Internet of Things, have good prospects of conquering large and fast-growing global markets.
“Our potential clientele are highly heterogeneous. Almost any sector can make use of LED foil technology – from toy manufacturers to the automotive industry, from lighting to home textiles, and from glass to aircraft,” lists Atte Varsta, Commercial Director.
Flexbright has several ongoing product development projects in various application areas, alongside companies operating in different countries.
“At the moment, there is virtually no competition and the market has room for several players. The technology’s complexity, in terms of production and cost-effectiveness, is a major threshold for new entrants. Correspondingly, Flexbright’s intellectual property rights protect it from the competition in this regard,” Varsta explains.
The company is currently focusing on the development of LED foils and, later, on their mass production on a roll-to-roll printing line.
“Flexbright is planning major production and job-creating investments in the Oulu region. The aim is to build an ecosystem for enterprises starting out in printed, mass-produced electronics and thereby lower the threshold for engaging in commercial and profitable operations using this technology,” Varsta and Makkonen add.
Business Oulu, PrintoCent and VTT have also been actively involved in the preparations for this project.
Flexbright’s products have international appeal and are also raising interest in Finland’s eastern neighbour. Russian financier NNCR is already accelerating the progress of the company’s LED foil technology.
“Flexbright’s production and product development operations will be based in Oulu for the time being but, together with Rusnano, we plan to set up a plant in Russia within a couple of years to cater for the markets over there,” say Makkonen and Varsta, commenting on their plans.
Finlayson’s people’s lamp withstands hugs and can slip into an envelope
Finlayson’s innovative people’s lamp also took shape when Varsta had the idea of using a LED foil in home textiles. Representatives of Flexbright and VTT presented the idea to Finlayson’s CEO, Jukka Kurttila, who was quickly taken by the notion of developing something entirely new on an open-minded basis.
“At Finlayson, we are curious about what’s going on in the world and what interests consumers. This project seemed to fit the bill, so we didn’t hesitate to get on board,” says Kurttila.
The people’s lamp was the result of collaboration between Finlayson, Flexbright and VTT, and design work by students completing design courses at Aalto University.
The people’s lamp is the first consumer product to use LED foil technology. It is durable and can serve as an ambience or night light, for example. The lamp is also soft and hug-resistant.
“The LED foil inside the product lasts for up to 100,000 hours of use, which corresponds to a service life of around 15 to 20 years,” says Kurttila.
“This will change people’s perception of lamps – the lamp can be unzipped from the side and slipped into, say, a thin envelope and mailed home.”
Kurttila plans to have the lamp on shop shelves in time for the Christmas season. He estimates the target price of the product to be around EUR 70–80.
Finlayson intends to continue product development, modifying the lamp to make it battery powered with no need for a power cord. In the future, it may also be possible to weave LED foils directly into fabric.
“The sky is the limit,” says a happy Jukka Kurttila, CEO of Finlayson, explaining that he intends to continue his fruitful collaboration with Flexbright.
Flexbright Ltd is a subsidiary of Neonelektro Ltd, a manufacturer of light commercials which was established in 1973. Flexbright was originally founded in 2010, under the name Mainoskama Ltd, for the export and import of LED components; in 2013, its name was changed to the more descriptive Flexbright.
Flexbright has three employees at the moment, but is recruiting more experts and investing heavily in the Oulu region.