When the Houston Astrodome was completed in 1965, it became the world's first indoor sports stadium.
Since that time, the stadium sports entertainment industry has undergone intense transformations, one of the
most significant being the integration of dynamic lighting design in both indoor and outdoor stadiums. How
significant is lighting to a stadium event? Fast forward to New Orleans in 2013 for Super Bowl XLVII when a
power outage halted the game for over 30 minutes and was an embarrassment on the national stage for the most
watched sporting event in the world. Much has changed in stadium sports lighting in the last few years,
revolutionizing how sporting events, indoor and outdoor, are experienced live, and broadcast worldwide. This
improvement is largely due to LED-based lighting, which can be further enabled by Moldable Silicone Optics.
At the forefront of the dynamic stadium lighting industry is Dow's Moldable Optics branch. Located north
of Detroit in Midland, Michigan, Dow Performance Silicones technology has enabled innovation in not just how
we see live stadium events, but how we experience them. One venue that has employed this technology is Tampa
Bay's Amalie Arena, host to the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning as well as NCAA basketball and ice hockey
games, UFC fights, gymnastics competitions and major live music events.
Design flexibility in Moldable Optical Silicones allows for the incorporation of different features into one
form-factor. This may be a precision lens with a molded in o-ring for precise locating and sealing or a
engineered diffuser with a sealing ring molded in one part.
So, what are moldable optics and how does this technological advancement change how we view games?
“Before silicone, most large-scale LED lighting systems were made of plastic,” Application
Engineer, Dow Performance Silicones, Jake Steinbrecher explains, “The unique physical properties of
Moldable Optical Silicone Elastomers allow for design flexibility in terms of intricate, difficult-to-achieve
optical shapes and also allow for critical optical performance in demanding environments.” Unlike
plastics, moldable optics made from silicone have the ability to retain long-term clarity while also
preventing light loss and minimizing light absorption. Lights made with moldable silicone optics can be more
cost-effective, minimizing energy losses as compared to traditional LED lights.
Design flexibility in Moldable Optical Silicones allows for the incorporation of different features into
one form-factor. This may be a precision lens with a molded in o-ring for precise locating and sealing or
a engineered diffuser with a sealing ring molded in one part.
One person that has seen how the evolution of dynamic lights have changed the face of stadium art design is
Mike O'Donnell, Director of Planning and Projects for Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment. O'Donnell
describes his first experience at the arena: “My first game as an adult was here at Amalie Arena in
2010. The game presentation was top notch, even during stoppages in play, but the lighting was not anything
“Not anything memorable” isn't exactly a glowing report. But by partnering with the folks at
Ephesus Lighting, the crew at Amalie Arena have changed the overall experience for not only the players,
performers and fans in the stands, but the fans watching at home, too. No lighting technology has had a bigger
effect on TV broadcasts than Ephesus' LumAdapt System. The LumAdapt Systems' coverage, power and
clarity allow cameras to broadcast up to 8K. The whole system can also be controlled remotely, from both
mobile and desktop platforms! O'Donnell notes the transformation, “The first time I saw Ephesus
Lighting in an arena I could instantly notice that the main attraction, the ice sheet, was popping visually.
From there, the enhancement of color changing effects throughout the arena were very unexpected. The
team's game presentation department was able to enhance the atmosphere and emotions of the fans just by
modifying the color temperature in the building.” For the athletes in these stadiums, this means they
can see the field, a speeding slapshot or a fastball, and so can the fans.
“The reduction in kilowatt hours is the most impressive thing that stands out to me,”
O'Donnell adds. “We added a higher quality of lights, with far superior capabilities, while still
reducing our energy footprint. Being able to reduce our overall usage while also adding features like beam and
color tuning is extremely impressive.”
As far as the future of sports lighting O'Donnell says, “I believe the next steps are the true
integration between sports and themed/show lighting. The new Ephesus LumAdapt fixture is extremely versatile
and controllable which allows game presentation teams a ton of flexibility and creativity to enhance the
‘show' every chance they get.” But moldable optics have a large variety of possible uses in the
lighting industry, well beyond stadium lighting. Moldable optic technology can currently be found in use at
industrial complexes and in outdoor security lights and municipal parks, but that is not all. In Europe,
moldable optics are being used to create Adaptive Driving Beam technology, high beams that automatically
adjust in intensity in response to oncoming traffic. This allows drivers to keep their high beams on at all
times, maintaining maximum visibility without blinding other motorists.
The potential of silicone optics is evidenced by these examples. While the market will reveal new uses for
Dow's moldable optics, one thing is certain: wherever they're deployed, we'll see things much
LIFESTYLE PORTAL COMPLEX
In the last several years, numerous architectural innovations have transformed the face of rapid building
construction. The world has seen the rise of large scale precast concrete structures and modular developments.
In Brooklyn, at 461 Dean a 32-storey modular apartment complex was completed with 363 apartments, the
world's tallest. In China, a wall-climbing platform is erecting a 119-storey skyscraper. What if a single
product could help you bring a project to completion two months early and under budget? That's exactly what
happened with the Portal Lifestyle Complex in Bangkok, Thailand, using the DOWSIL™ 896 PanelFix Silicone
Adhesive to expedite the construction of the silicone-adhered paneling of the Life Portal Complex.
The 8,000-square-meter, four-story Portal Lifestyle Complex, located in a northern suburb of Bangkok, houses
retail stores, restaurants, a food court and brand-name outlets. It even has a ballroom on the top floor,
providing 1,500 square meters of versatile space that can accommodate a variety of events for up to 1,000
guests. Since its opening, it has hosted exhibitions, conferences lavish weddings and other celebrations - but
the building gained the attention of business owners and engineers alike before it hosted its first guest.
Its most arresting feature, its paneled exterior, was made possible in part due to new adhesive technology:
constructed with the DOWSIL™ 896 Silicone PanelFix Adhesive, the Portal Lifestyle Complex represents a
new time-saving way to seamlessly assemble flush-fitting panels. Global Marketing Director for Dow High
Performance Building, Jean-Paul Hauketeer, explains that the silicone adhesive is superior to that of screws
because not only does it take more time, but the “variations can lead to acoustic vibration,
deterioration of individual screws among other issues. Using screws and mechanical fixtures create thermal
bridges between the exterior and interior of the building and you can have heat or cold entering the
building.” In the case of silicone-adhered paneling, there is also an additional insulation barrier
between exterior and interior.
It would've been nearly impossible to construct the portal's network of panels securely using
previous methods without drastically inflating the budget. “Eliminating the need to apply a primer, as
well as the adhesive's immediate tack, meant that work could proceed faster than expected,” says
Sasivee Jiamkuan, Assistant Managing Director at Nawakij Aluminum and Glass, the firm tasked with installing
the panels on the complex. “In fact, panel production and installation were completed two months ahead
of schedule, and at a fraction of the initially estimated costs.” As far as health and safety, the
silicone-bonded panels can withstand high wind pressure – especially vital in places like Bangkok, where
typhoons are common.
Private companies and local governments are taking notice of the benefits of the DOWSIL™ 896 PanelFix
System, and using it in some groundbreaking ways. Dublin, Ireland's National Indoor Arena features an
18,000 square meter facility with a track and training center for athletics, a gymnastics training center, a
12-court sports hall and 3G synthetic pitches for football and rugby training, but it's the outer
structure that is sparking conversation. The geometric panels which make up its exterior required a
“secret fix” aesthetic with no visible fixings; the DOWSIL™ Panelfix system made it
possible. And in Falkirk, Scotland, a team of specialists tasked with creating the striking façade of The
Kelpies, one the world's largest equine sculptures, turned to DOWSIL™ Panelfix. As a result, they
were able to bond sculptures' 316 panels quickly and securely.
But that's not all: Hautekeer also points to the future uses in luxury residential development;
DOWSIL™ Panelfix will save developers both time and money. He notes, “Aluminum composite and
high-pressure laminate panels are increasingly used for residential spaces because of their attractiveness -
and the DOWSIL™ Silicone bonding tech will be seen in more high-end multi-story residential &
multi-usage buildings” Simply put, “Bonding and pre-fabricating is much more efficient.”
3D SILICONE PRINTING
Hans Peter Wolf is in the business of finding solutions to complicated challenges. Since 2008, Wolf has led
Dow's global research and development efforts for silicone rubber. Over the last decade, he and his team
at the WB404 R&D Building, Dow's research & development facility in Wiesbaden, Germany, have played a
major part in the creation of groundbreaking new materials, like SILASDow's SILASTIC™ 3D 3335
Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR) and the 3D printer technology necessary to use it. “Sometimes it's
surprising looking backwards,” Wolf says, “to see how much listed in our road maps from 2010 or
2012 is already reality."
The breakthroughs they've made have already had an impact across multiple industries, with automotive,
consumer goods and industrial applications. Take 3D printed LSRs: They let designers create prototype parts
more quickly and reduce the time between prototyping and large-scale manufacturing. They also allow for the
creation of low volume parts for specialized uses and give manufacturers the flexibility necessary to create
truly customized designs.
Robotic dispensing of a pigmented liquid silicone rubber enables layer-by-layer 3D printing of parts
Final, fully-cured silicone rubber, 3D-printed part has excellent elastic properties and heat
Even with all they've accomplished across the past decade, each and every week presents Wolf and his team
with “new opportunities and new questions – can the materials do this? Can they do this?” A
crucial part of the lab's success is its location: they're perfectly situated to focus on research
while still listening to what their customers are saying. It's no coincidence that the R&D team, a tight
knit group of 8 scientists, technicians and process engineers, shares a building with both Dow's business
development and marketing department and the facility which manufactures all of Dow's 3D Printing LSRs.
3D printing of functional prototypes and custom manufactured parts using SILASTIC™ 3D 3335 Liquid
Silicone Rubber from Dow printed with an L280 LAM 3D printer from German RepRap
Close dialogue between departments helps the R&D team focus their research and develop applications that will
make a real difference to the customer. “This is the ideal situation,” according to Wolf.
“You can always have a good dialogue between the direct customer and development, including engineering
In fact, the challenge Wolf and his team have been tackling the last few weeks grew directly from a customer
request: multiple customers have asked Dow to add a splash of color to their 3D printer LSR. At first glance,
this seems like an easy modification to make. Dow's LSR formula is made of two components, Components A
and B – but unfortunately, adding color into the mix isn't as simple as adding a pre-mixed dye. The
moment you add anything extra to the mixture, you change the behavior of the material – and need to modify the
composition of the base. “This all needs to fit together,” Wolf says. “You cannot take any
current, existing colored paste. It simply won't work. So, we're developing the additive dyes
In order to make colored LSR a reality, they're creating new dispensing technology capable of releasing
tiny exact amounts of additive necessary to color the LSR without changing its crucial characteristics. This
development will allow maximum flexibility and ease-of-use for customers in need of colored printed parts.
The technology created during the development process may lead to much larger advancements in the not-
so-distant future. “There are definitely certain possibilities [for new additives],” Wolf says.
“One potential is to add conductive materials to make printed parts conductive or
semi-conductive.” While the Dow LSR team is focused on industrial and consumer applications, Wolf
believes the ability to add conductive material could also lead to new “functional wear”
applications as well.
For now, Wolf and his team are focusing on perfecting their additive dyes – they've already managed to
create prototype parts dyed a brilliant red. And he's confident there will be many more breakthroughs in
their future. “We are a team that is very passionate,” he says, “and we have a lot of people
who have the right kind of curiosity. 3D Printing is just in the early stages. We still have a lot to
STEP INTO INNOVATION
With the ingenuity of Innovation Lab ECCO's 3D silicone printing, consumers can experience custom fitted
midsoles for their shoes while they wait in-store. With Data-driven design and real time analysis derived from
scan and sensor data, the Quant-U system maps out the best possible orthotic fit. In a sense, the consumer's
body and body mechanics design the shoe.