Author: Karl

SPI Press Release

California firm creates new solar thermal market and IoT heliostat  – earns spot at Solar Power International

Central Coast California solar technology firm LightManufacturing exhibits at the Solar Power International (SPI) expo in Anaheim this week, showing new applications for solar energy and a unique set of products at the conference. “We’re not a PV company” explains founder Karl von Kries, “we don’t make electricity.  Instead, we use concentrated solar heat to replace fossil fuels in industry”.  Continues von Kries, “For example, we’ve learned how to mold water tanks and boats using solar thermal energy at a fraction of the cost”.  The company has molded thousands of commercial-grade plastic parts for private clients at its research facility. The firm’s Solar Rotational Molding or SRM™ process recently received US Patent protection.  The company is targeting several follow-on industrial processes for conversion to real-time solar heat. In addition to patents and process know–how, the firm developed a unique line of sun-tracking heliostats. A two–year effort yielded a simple, industrial–grade heliostat that’s efficient to deploy in small arrays. “The new H1 is remarkably easy to use”, says von Kries, “and it’s the first ‘Internet of Things’ or IoT heliostat”.   According to the company, the H1 is the first heliostat that connects to the Internet for simple cloud-based configuration and aiming.   No software is required to use the H1, just a web browser on a computer or smartphone. For greater heat intensity, customers can order the Vacuum Mirror option, a patent pending field-adjustable mirror which according to the firm can focus most of the reflected energy onto a circle LightManufacturing’s unique vision for industrial solar thermal industry won the firm a slot at the competitive “Start-Up Alley” section of the massive Solar Power International show, and landed the company a chance to present at the the even–more–selective Startup Challenge competition.   SPI attracts 20,000 visitors and 600 exhibitors each year, so “we’re very excited to participate”, says von Kries. For more information contact: [email protected] 415-796-6475 x 4 (Public Relations) About LightManufacturing Founded in 2010, LightManufacturing researches and commercializes solar thermal technology, including Solar Vacuum-Forming and Solar Rotational Molding (SRM®).  The firm’s products include the H1 heliostat and turn-key SRM molding systems. About Solar Power International Solar Power International (SPI) generates success for solar energy professionals and the global solar industry. SPI is ranked #109 in the Top 250 Largest Trade Shows (by Trade Show News Network), making SPI the largest solar show in North America. In addition, SPI is a Gold 100 trade show (as ranked by Trade Show Executive), making it the only solar show to make both lists. Photo 1: Solar molding in action Photo 2: LightManufacturing heliostats in grassy field Photo 3:  Concentrated light from patent-pending vacuum focus mirror Keywords / Concepts:  heliostat, solar, IoT, concentrated, CSP, industry, cleantech, sustainable, LightManufacturing, SPI # # #

SPI Booth 1041, and Start-Up Alley!

We’re exhibiting at the Solar Power International show next week in Anaheim California, Sept 15-17. Come see us at Booth 1041. We’re exhibiting the worlds first wifi-connected, IoT heliostat, showing video of our patented Solar Plastic Molding process, showing our field-adjustable vacuum focus mirror, and presenting at the Start-Up Alley battlefield on Wednesday afternoon.

Heliostats Warm a Belgian Apartment Building

Central Coast, California   Oct 2, 2014
LightManufacturing of California delivered an array of four H1 Heliostats to Belgium to provide heat and light to an apartment building.   The heliostats – sun-tracking mirrors – were installed on a garden wall, and shine light into North–facing windows.  These windows normally get no direct sun, but with the addition of the heliostats get bright, warm sun for hours a day. The private client reports “when mid-day temperatures are hotter than 20°C (70F) we target the light onto the balconies.  This creates one VIP ‘seat in the sun’ for each balcony”.
H1 Heliostat, v12, Back View
The H1 Heliostat from LightManufacturing
  Apartment Heliostat Photos: “When mid-day temperatures are colder, we shine right into the apartments… to bring extra heat into the building”.  Each H1 heliostat funnels up to 1300 Watts of heat, and 115,000 lumens of light into a structure.    LightManufacturing’s heliostats include wireless remote control capability, so operators can move the reflected light from balcony to windows at the click of a button.  The client continues, “we sometimes change the targets of the heliostats using the wireless control system. For example, there’s one tenant that’s spending a month abroad.  In his absence that heliostat is re-oriented to another apartment”. LightManufacturing introduced the H1 heliostat in 2012, and has shipped the systems to numerous clients in the US and international destinations including Belgium, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and more.
Solar Plastic Molding System
Solar Plastic Molding
LightManufacturing developed the H1 to support its patented solar plastic molding systems, which make products like water tanks and boats without using fossil fuels.  The firm began receiving inquiries about the heliostat as a stand-alone product, and responded by offering the H1 heliostat for sale to the general public. The firm claims the H1 is the world’s lowest cost–per–reflected–watt, professional grade heliostat.  “We’ve designed it as a robust, industrial-strength tool for larger architectural clients and solar thermal projects” says CEO Karl von Kries, “but we’ve also made it easy for home-owners to install and enjoy”. Additional Apartment Heliostat Photos: Learn More: <end>

California Firm Awarded Patent for Zero-Fuel Solar Plastic Molding Technology

Web version: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 10, 2014, Pismo Beach, CA — LightManufacturing LLC, a solar thermal technology company, today announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued the firm US Patent 8,662,877 covering the use of concentrated solar thermal energy for molding plastic.   The proprietary technology allows low-cost manufacturing of large plastic objects like water tanks and boats without the use of fossil fuels.  The patent describes the use of heliostats (sun-tracking mirrors) to concentrate heat in a plastic molding system. “Our technology eliminates the energy costs of roto-molding or vacuum-forming plastic parts”, says Karl von Kries, LightManufacturing Founder and CEO, “while offering opportunities to simplify and reduce the cost of the molding system”.  The company’s Solar Rotational Molding (SRM®) systems are delivered pre-integrated into 20′ ISO shipping containers, and can be dropped onto unimproved land.  No building, concrete pad, or grid energy connection is required.  “This ease of installation means customers can put inexpensive production capacity in new markets, or put manufacturing close to customers to reduce transport costs”, says von Kries. Heat for melting the plastic comes from an array of the company’s “H1” heliostats, and a photovoltaic array on the roof of the container provides energy to rotate the molds and operate other equipment.  The company estimates that the now-patented processes can be deployed on over 49% of the Earth’s land area. While many solar technology firms work on methods for generating electricity,  LightManufacturing differs by concentrating solely on applying solar heat to manufacturing processes.  “Enormous opportunities exist to harness solar thermal energy for industrial applications”, says von Kries. “Many processes that burn natural gas or other fossil fuels to generate heat is a candidate for conversion to solar thermal, and the plastic molding processes covered by this patent happen to be two of the best first applications of our technology”. The firm describes the process in detail with photos and video at Image 1:  Solar Rotational Molding in action About LightManufacturing Founded in 2010, LightManufacturing researches and commercializes solar thermal technology, including Solar Vacuum-Forming and Solar Rotational Molding (SRM®).  The firm’s products include the H1 heliostat and turn-key SRM molding systems.   For more information visit: Logo: For more information contact: Darren Sholes LightManufacturing LLC 415-796-6475 x 4 [email protected] ###

Nice summary from Francis Ward’s Jonathan Wurr

amazing_technology“…What an amazing technology for the warmer parts of the developing world. Light Manufacturing presented this technology to the ARMO conference in Goa. Further investigation of the website shows the product in action. However the website videos show a fairly small part being made and I wonder how the energy calculations stack up for larger mouldings, such as water tanks. In any event, this technology offers a fantastic way for isolated communities with limited or no access to gas or electricity to start up a low cost manufacturing operation. Not only can they start a small business based in their community, they can actually produce products that will help with water storage and transportation. The wheel-based water carrier recently profiled in would be a perfect product to make in these communities, with or without the dynamo. Charities should be looking at this to see if it offers a way for poorer communities to find their own way out of poverty. All the best ideas are pretty simple.  Jonathan Wurr
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves, although we note that 49% of the Earth’s land area is suitable for SRM, and it’s viable both in emerging markets and the developed world.  More details to come soon.   »  Here’s the link to the full article.

New Video, Showing the Solar Plastic Molding Process in Detail

We’re very pleased to share a new video – for the first time you can see the Solar Rotational Molding process from start to finish. We start with plastic powder and end with a high-quality solar molded loudspeaker cabinet – and use zero fossil fuels in the process. All energy is supplied by the sun – heat energy is concentrated by our H1 heliostats, and electricity needed to operate motors comes from a photovoltaic panel.

New Videos! Heliostat movement movies.

We’ve posted two new videos showing the H1 heliostat. See the videos on the video page (click here). First video shows 15 H1 heliostats moving from ‘safe’ position to a target, moving to another target, then back, and so on – demonstrating repeatable positioning and the advantages of wireless remote control. The second new video shows startup / limit-switch finding routines from the front and back of a pair of H1 heliostats, giving a great illustration of the mechanicals of the H1.

Heliostats for Sale!

[singlepic id=65 w=320 h=240 float=right]LightManufacturing is pleased to offer the commercial-grade H1 heliostat for sale to the general public and industrial clients.  Applications for the H1 include heating and lighting – the H1 heliostat delivers over 1300 watts of energy to a target in heating applications, and over 150,000 lumens for lighting.


…have traditionally been a hobbyist product on the smaller scale, or proprietary product used in large utility-scale ‘power-tower’ installations.   No commercial off the shelf (COTS) heliostats have been available in the US market, and only limited choices available in Europe.   LightManufacturing’s H1 heliostat solves this availability problem, providing an easy to setup, easy to use, powerful commercial grade heliostat with advanced features. Unlike glass-mirror heliostats which are expensive to transport due to their delicate reflector, LightManufacturing’s H1 uses a tensioned-membrane mirror that is shatterproof and tough, and provides better reflective properties.  Available wireless  systems let a user target one, or many H1 heliostats from a nearby computer, without connecting USB cables to each heliostat for configuration. Production of the H1 heliostat is US based, ensuring quick production and delivery times to the North American market.    LightManufacturing developed the H1 for solar thermal applications like Solar Rotational Molding (SRM™), but recognized the public’s need for a high-performance general-purpose heliostat and released the heliostat for purchase in non SRM uses.