Fiber optic lighting utilises optical fiber (flexible fiber made of glass or plastic) to transmit light from a light source to a remote location. It is comprised of a core and cladding (coating) that trap light, allowing light to travel long distances.
Fiber optic lighting uses optical fiber as a “light pipe,” transmitting light from a source through the fiber to a remote location. The light may be emitted from the end of the fiber creating a small spotlight effect (also called “end glow”) or emitted from the outside of the fiber along its length, looking like a neon or fluorescent tube (also called “side glow”).
This is a niche business in the lighting industry, it is still very nascent in South Africa, not a lot of competition, how big this market will grow in future remains to be seen, you might be early to a lucrative industry or you might have a small business in a small industry.
What is fiber optic lighting used for and what makes it so special
Fiber optic lighting can be used to create amazing effects, remember what was said in the first paragraph “transmit light from a light source to a remote location” that is one of the most powerful features. The light is fed through the fiber optic strands meaning the light source can be kept at a distance from the lighting display and the source is the only part of a fiber optic system that contains electricity. This means you can easily light up the bottom of a swimming pool in spectacular fashion by dipping the illuminated fiber optic strands in the water.
Fiber optic lighting can be used for amazing lighting displays without a lot of work, while there is a consumer market, I would say the B2B market, hotels, function venues, holiday homes, resorts that is probably the more lucrative of the market. Nightclubs and bars as well but we don’t know how things will change post COVID.
There is the home market maybe inside rooms or bar areas, there is another smaller market in wearables which I don’t think will be big in SA, unless you making costumes for photoshoots, music videos, films etc.
You can also install fiber optic lights inside the roof of a car:
What are the opportunities in this industry?
There is the supply of equipment, light illuminators (the light source or engine), even smaller led lights, as well as other components like if you building a ceiling and only having strands show through here and there. Then there is the bulk fiber optic fibers, different types (side emitting fibers, end emitting fibers, fiber optic ribbons etc) business. The supply of the fibers.
Then there is the business of designing and installing the lighting, there is a lot of potential as some applications will need some kind of design, to change colours are easy but manipulating shapes are a bit harder. So remember all the fiber stands are basically this translucent plastic so the light has to be changed, colours, intensity to manipulate the design etc.
Main image credit: Pinterest