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FAQs

3M™ Light Fiber

Want to know more about light fiber? Click the questions below to view the answers.

  1. What is 3M™ HL High Luminance Light Fiber?

  2. What are its special features?

  3. How does light fiber transport light?

  4. What are some of the key considerations when using light fiber?

  5. What are some examples of how light fiber can be used?

  6. How is 3M's light fiber different than fiber optic cable used for communication?

  7. How far can the light be transmitted?

  8. Are there restrictions as to where 3M's light fiber can be used?

  9. What is the expected longevity of 3M™ HL High Luminance Light Fiber and the light source for the fiber-optic lighting system?

  10. What illuminators are designed for use with 3M's light fiber?

  11. Are there many different types of illuminators?

  12. What additional supplies are required to install 3M's light fiber?


  1. What is 3M™ HL High Luminance Light Fiber ?
    3M's light fiber is a major component of a remote-source lighting system that can be used for decorative and functional lighting. It complements cold cathode (e.g., neon) or LED chip-strip lighting in signage and displays.

    A system is comprised of various types of 3M light fiber, a specially designed illuminator, and installation accessories.

    Illuminator   3M Light Fiber - W-Rail

    3MTM High Performance with Channel

    3M Light Fiber for decoration  

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  2. What are its special features?
    The illuminator, which typically contains a metal-halide lamp (HDI) or LEDs can be installed in a convenient and safe location while the light is transported and evenly distributed through the light fiber.

    In some cases, multiple light fibers can be connected to one light source. Multiple short lengths of 3M™ HL High Luminance Light Fiber can be used with some types of illuminators for specific desired effects. Longer lengths (up to 40 meters) of 3M's light fiber can be used with high-performance illuminators for maximum brightness.

    Light is transmitted down the length of the fiber and emitted along the light fiber's surface through the fiber cladding.


    No electricity or ultraviolet (UV) light is transmitted through the light fiber.

    A neon-like effect can be achieved with 3M's light fiber and the proper illuminator.



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  3. How does light fiber transport light?

    3M™ HL High Luminance Light Fiber is designed to be brighter than regular, solid-core or stranded-side light fiber. It creates a uniform visual effect over lengths of up to 40 meters, depending on the illuminator and desired level of brightness.


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  4. What are some of the key considerations when using light fiber?

    To take full advantage of the potential of 3MTM HL High Luminance Light Fiber, ask your 3M distributor for assistance during the planning stages. Illuminators are designed for different lighting levels. The intensity, brightness, and color of the light can vary significantly. Please contact your 3M distributor for specific information.

    Although 3M's light fiber is flexible, some light will be lost if the fiber is bent to an extreme degree. No significant amount of light is lost if the bend radius is no more than eight times the diameter of the fiber. The sharper the bend, the larger the light loss.

    One fiber cannot transmit multiple colors of light simultaneously.

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  5. What are some examples of how light fiber can be used?
    3M™ HL High Luminance Light Fiber is great for signs or other applications where static or dynamic color changing is needed. There is no need to work in high or hard-to-reach places because the light sources can be remotely located. See the Application Brochure and Applications section for more information.

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  6. How is 3M's light fiber different than fiber optic cable used for communication?
    Although the method of light transmission is the same, communication fiber optics are specifically designed for different applications.

    Fiber optic cables used for communication are made from bundles of very small-diameter fibers, typically the thickness of human hair.

    3M's light fiber is a highly efficient light-transmission system for visible light. It is a large-core, plastic optical fiber. Fiber core diameters are 7mm and 12mm. With the outside cladding, the respective outside diameter of 3M™ HL High Luminance Light Fiber is XXXXX –XXXXX mm

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  7. How bright is the light?
    Brightness levels are somewhat subjective. The intensity depends on how the viewer perceives the light relative to the surrounding ambient light. The brightness of 3M™ HL High Luminance Light Fiber will also depend on how the illuminator is used and the manner in which the fiber is set up.




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  8. How far can the light be transmitted?

    3M™ HL High Luminance Light Fiber transmits light while emitting light from all surfaces of the fiber. The loss of light (at 580nm) during transmission is approximately 3%/m. This translates to:

    • 25% at 10 m
    • 45% at 20 m
    • 60% at 30 m
    • 75% at 40 m

    The length of fiber that is visually uniform in brightness depends on the illuminator, the type of fiber and the number of illuminators per span, i.e., a double- or single-ended system. For very long-distance applications, the loss of light can be corrected by using a light source at both ends of the span.

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  9. Are there restrictions as to where 3M's light fiber can be used?
    If the installation environment temperature is less than 60°C/140° F, the fiber can be used continuously. With some illuminators, the ends of the fiber may require periodic polishing maintenance. Other illuminators do not require this same level of maintenance. The fiber itself is resistant to water, chemicals and weather, when used in temperatures between 60°C/140°F and –34°C/-30°F. The use of 3M's light fiber in under-water applications should be avoided without providing additional protection for the fiber and illuminator as detailed in 3M Technical Bulletins. See the Special Applications Bulletin tab.

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  10. What is the expected longevity of 3M™ HL High Luminance Light Fiber and the light source for the fiber-optic lighting system?
    3M's light fiber has a 10-year life expectancy when used in temperatures between 60°C/140°F and –34°C/-30°F.

    The longevity of the illuminator depends on how often the light is used, the quality of the components and the environment to which it is exposed. The life expectancy of the light source also varies from illuminator to illuminator. Please see the illuminator specifications for more details.

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  11. What illuminators are designed for use with 3M's light fiber?
    The illuminators designed for 3M™ HL High Luminance Light Fiber are similar to a slide projector—but are very specialized. They typically use metal-halide lamps (HID) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Illuminators that work with 3M's light fiber have a light-condensing mechanism that gathers and directs a large quantity of light into one end of the fiber. This type of illuminator, which includes the light-condensing mechanism, is designed to ensure long fiber life and safe operation. Using Illuminators not designed for use with 3M's light fiber should be avoided. Your 3M distributor can provide recommendations based on the application.

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  12. Are there many different types of illuminators?
    An illuminator with a halogen lamp (a type of incandescent lamp) is frequently used for displays. The lamp is generally less expensive and has excellent color characteristics. Its total light flux is relatively low and bulb life may be short.

    For applications requiring brighter light, an illuminator with a metal halide (HID) lamp (a type of electric-discharge lamp) is usually specified. Metal-halide lamps may have longer lives, have higher total light flux, and a moderate to high-color temperature. These illuminators may be more expensive than halogen illuminators but they typically have longer bulb life and are significantly brighter. Neon-like brightness cannot be achieved with a halogen bulb and long lengths of 3M™ HL High Luminance Light Fiber.

    Newer models of high-performance light emitting diode (LEDs) lamps can also be used with 3M™ HL High Luminance Light Fiber. These new high-performance LEDs generate very high total light flux. The LEDs are small, light and energy efficient. They generally have long lives when assembled by electronic experts. Issues of heat, milli-amp regulation, moisture resistance and thermal expansion and contraction are some of the issues that MUST be addressed for LED systems in order for them to perform up to expectations with 3M's light fiber. Failure to address these issues may cause premature failure of the LED light source.

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  13. What additional supplies are required to install 3M's light fiber?
    Various accessories may be required, depending on the application of 3M™ HL High Luminance Light Fiber. Some of these include 3M’s high-performance light fiber channel, polishing kits and FEP heat shrink for splicing. These items can be purchased through our distributors.   

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 3M Light Fiber