3 Facts About LED Optics and The Impact of Ultraviolet Light

Posted By: Steve Published: 06/11/2020 Times Read: 1335

An LED by itself, without optics, emits light in all directions. That may sound like a favorable property because it means an LED will light up a wide beam. However, the problem for NDT inspection with this type of LED is that you don’t get much intensity at any one spot. That’s acceptable for background illumination, but for inspection purposes you need to meet minimum intensity limits set by standards committees.

Enter LED Optics – Optics focus the LED light into a usable more concentrated beam. For a UV LED lamp to be useful for NDT for inspection, there needs be an optic over the LED source to provide a useful intensity.  See the below figure comparing how light behaves both with and without optics.

1. Optics must be selected to balance intensity against beam profile

  • By reviewing the illustration, it is apparent that there is a design trade-off involved. Wide-angle beams provide smooth and even profiles, but narrow-beams provide the intensity needed for fluorescent inspection. A well-designed LED inspection lamp needs both for the best results.

2. Common LED optics are made from PMMA

  • UV-A LEDs present an extra challenge for optics. Common LED optics are made from PMMA (acrylic) – it’s cheap, easily molded into the required shape, and transparent for visible light. However, PMMA absorbs UV and will solarize (yellow and cloud over). The same phenomenon can be seen in older automotive headlights - with exposure to the UV from the sun the clear plastic becomes cloudy.

3.Optics originally developed for UV LEDs are treated to transmit UV-A down to 320 nm

  • With special treatment optics will still solarize over time. Solarized lenses will severely decrease the output of an LED lamp and that’s why low-cost UV LED lamps needed replacements on a regular basis.

​Lamp manufacturers need to balance all these factors into the design of an inspection lamp that (A) has a useful intensity, (B) has a beam with a smooth and even profile without hot spots, and (C) is long-lasting and durable.

With the EV6000, Magnaflux developed custom LED optics made from UV-stable material. That means the lenses will not solarize and the UV-A intensity will not degrade over time. All LED UV-A Lamps from Magnaflux use these custom optics for dependable performance and a long life.

Still have questions about LED optics?  Want more information about our Magnaflux products such as the standard intensity LED lamp (EV6000) or high intensity EV6500?  Feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] or 800-221-1116


Geis, David. "3 Facts About LED Optics and The Impact of Ultraviolet Light". Magnaflux Blog, 5 March 2019, https://www.magnaflux.com/Magnaflux/Resources/Blog/3-LED-Optic-Facts

Tags: non-destructive testing (ndt), magnaflux, magnetic particle inspection (mpi), liquid penetrant inspection (lpi), LED, UV, UV-A, lamps, optics, solarization, ultraviolet, fluorescent, inspection, EV6000, EV6500, 625784,

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