Guiding Sunlight

Modern office conference room
Modern rooftop technology

How do you go from optical science to interior design?

When you think of lighting, do you imagine a dusty old light bulb in your cellar…or perhaps a flickering fluorescent light over your desk at work? Few things affect our daily lives as much as light, and each advance in lighting has affected the way humans work and play, and even our moods.

When you think of lighting, do you imagine a dusty old light bulb in your cellar…or perhaps a flickering fluorescent light over your desk at work? Few things affect our daily lives as much as light, and each advance in lighting has affected the way humans work and play, and even our moods.

Now think more broadly. Imagine a new-to-the-world system that harnesses and guides sunlight, where windows are not an option. Through twisting and turning ducts, the new 3M™ Sunlight Delivery System illuminates buildings with natural, energy-efficient - even mood enhancing - light. The new System is an innovative 3M solution that helps architects and designers imagine new spaces.

As with most 3M innovations, the journey to reimagining how we light our environments began eight decades ago with a product that bears little relation to a light fixture: Glass beads. Road signs were made more visible because of the retro-reflective qualities of these materials. More recently, micro-replicated prisms replaced the glass beads, enabling brighter signs that are making our roads ever more safe. Later 3M breakthroughs in light reflection led to efficient backlights for LCD TVs and laptops, window films that transmit light and deflect heat, and energy-efficient films in mobile phone displays.

While this technology proved successful at enhancing consumer electronics, a team of 3M scientists and marketers realised they had something unique, with even broader applications. Drawing further on experts across the company, 3M’s sunlight delivery technology was spawned. Instead of diffusing light, natural sunlight can be spread across large surfaces, producing uniform light that is both easy on the eyes, as well as on the use of energy.

3M is taking optics technology a step further, combining it with glass and interior surface finishes (such as 3M™ Wall Panels and 3M™ DI-NOC™ Architectural Finishes, which can create the look of wood, metal or stone on walls) to open up new wonders of architectural possibility. Imagine a hotel lobby with massive, lightweight hoop lights, or a museum with walls that change colour.

And the innovation continues, as 3M teams collaborate with world-class designers and architects to conceive new ways to translate 3M innovation into imaginative lighting and spaces for work and play.

At 3M, innovation always lights the way.