L&M Engineering: The Process of Finding the Edge

December 28, 2013

Need a light? How about a bike light, dive light or general outdoor light?  Search the web and you will find hundreds of different options ranging in lumen output, run times, charge times, colors, form factors, mounting options and the list goes on. What separates one light from the next? This is what manufactures call their competitive edge. Lights manufactured years ago eventually become out dated and are no longer competitive in today’s market. The competitive edge of a product comes from engineers and designers, trying to push the limits of what is possible with the latest technology.

Here at Light & Motion we believe in the process of continuous improvement. With each product we try to improve upon our old designs, others designs and pull in new technology.   Products start as a concept created from input from customers, professionals, retails, distributors and upper management.

When the design team is pulled in on a project, it is time to develop that concept into something tangible over a process that can take months.   It starts with crude prototypes used to prove concepts and to learn from.  Prototypes created in foam show the style and form factor, whereas others created with the latest LEDs and battery technology give realistic performance goals. Each prototype is put to the test, reviewed, modified, re-tested and so on, until a solution if found.

This initial process is very important to reduce the chance of finding problems later on. One of the most difficult parts of the design process is incorporating all of the individual components into one complete product.  Each feature or component of the product has an effect on the other.   It is like trying to solve a complex puzzle, where the pieces keep changing shape.

Design is all about compromise. For example, if you want the main LEDs on the front of the light, the indicator LEDs on top, the switch on the back and the charge connector on the bottom, how do you do this while reducing the number of circuit boards and keeping the cost down? Some of the core features that Light and Motion holds dearly, makes this homogenizing process even more difficult. There is a high standard on the size, weight and overall shape of our products. Designers are forced to take advantage of any available space to keep the size down. Screws are frowned upon since they are large and visually unappealing. There is a long list of requirements for our products when they are being designed and with each product, that list keeps growing.

Next time you are in need of a light, take a look at our website and see if you can find our competitive edge.
Jarod Armer is a mechanical engineer with Light & Motion and worked on the break-through mechanical innovations for the GoBe and the Sola lights.