Not long ago, we took a look at Cree’s new LED light bulbs. At US$12.97 a pop, the 60-watt-equivalent model sounded like a pretty good deal. If NliteN’s disk-shaped 2D-Lite reaches production, however, it could make the Cree product look downright expensive. Initially slated to sell for $10, the dimmable 60-watt-equivalent "800 lumen-class" bulb is planned to drop to $6 by 2015, and to $3 by 2017.
Despite its rather unique appearance, the 2D-Lite has the same profile as a much more power-hungry and short-lived standard incandescent bulb, and can be screwed into a traditional fixture.
Instead of the arrays of LEDs used in other LED light bulbs, it has just two, arranged back-to-back on either side of the disk. The design of the 2D-Lite reportedly allows them to act as the originating points of what ends up as an ominidirectional light source. As the bulb’s inventor Andy Turudic tells us, however, less LEDs aren’t the only reason for the planned low price.
"It's 'just' a circuit board," he says. "We use automation and surface mount components – same technology that cranks out hundreds of millions of smartphones. No hand soldering, no die casting of aluminum. In fact there is no screw cap to solder on either. Just surface mount components, even the lenses run on the surface mount line."
Turudic goes on to explain that the 2D-Lite also doesn’t require a separate heat sink, as the copper foil of the circuit board (which is the base material of the disk) serves the same heat-dissipating service.
"The surface area of that disk is about the same as the newer Philips [LED] bulbs, so thermals are equivalent or better, especially considering the LEDs are mounted directly onto the copper foil of that disk,” he says. “The circuit board technology is repurposed from the military, with a special technique to make it consumer price friendly so we don't wind up building the proverbial $400 hammer. It all comes together nicely and gets rid of about 20 to 25 percent of a bulb's parts and labor."
Plans call for the 2D-Lite to be available in a variety of color temperatures, although 3000K and 4000K (“warm white” and “cool white”) models will be the first out of the gate.
Andy and his team are currently raising production funds, on Indiegogo. Despite the estimated retail price of $10, a $20 pledge is required to get yourself one of the first 2D-Lites (assuming the funding goal is met). That money will also help finance Turudic's plan for getting the bulbs into the homes of people in developing nations.
We're just not quite sure whether "800 lumen-class" means the bulb has an output above 800 lumens, around 800 lumens, or something else.