Makroform: Dutch State Railway lit by Makrolon lamps

From February 2003 on a total of 20,000 lamps in white-translucent Makrolon® will be illuminating the new double-decker wagons of the Dutch State Railway. The zigzag placement of the lamps in the upper decks differs greatly from the otherwise conventional concept. Not only the design - conceived exclusively for the double-decker wagons – is unusual, manufacture and material too meet the highest requirements.

An essential quality criterion in the selection was the high fire protection requirements applying to the materials used in the area of public transport. Not only fire and smoke development but also dripping in the case of a fire must be reduced to a minimum. Furthermore, the materials used must be able to resist attempts at deliberate damage unscathed. And finally the fixtures must be suitable for the at times very high temperatures during the lighting and heating period. For these reasons, only polycarbonate could be considered as material for the new wagon lighting. Due to the good value-for-money they represent, the PC sheet Makrolon® mono longlife white 2130 was selected, made by the Darmstadt company Makroform. The white-translucent polycarbonate sheet excels primarily in terms of the extreme resistance to fracturing, displays a very high temperature resistance and conforms to DIN 5510, the German Industrial Norm for preventative fire protection in rail vehicles. It is also equipped with a uv-resistant coating.

The design of the lighting in the Dutch train wagons was developed by the Dutch State Railway in keeping with the interior decor: The light fixtures in the upper deck, where First Class is accommodated, are arranged in a zigzag while the light fittings in Second Class, on the lower level, are linear. The technical concept and manufacture of the lamp parts, each a metre long, is the responsibility of the firm Cristallux, based in Waldachtal/Germany which has been making lamps for the highest of requirements for many years. A total of five different lamps are available: two convex and two concave elements as a set for the zigzag and a straight component for the linear system. The finished trim panel was integrated into the total lighting system by the specialists from SBF Spezialleuchten Wurzen GmbH.

In the manufacture of the lights, a number of technical challenges had to be overcome. On the one hand, an extreme undercutting of the four millimetre thick sheet was necessary. On the other hand, Makrolon® mono longlife white 2130 has a comparatively small thermoforming temperature window ranging between 185 and 200 °C. Cristallux overcome this challenge through a modification of conventional vacuum moulding. Finally, the lighting fixtures and frames, which are manufactured separately, are welded together using ultrasonics.

“The joint work was very successful”, emphasises Dr. Volker Benz, Manager technical support, Makroform. “The innovative lighting system for the new wagons of the Dutch State Railway only became possible as a result of the combination of high-performance Makrolon® materials with the processing technology experience of the company Cristallux and finally the perfected light engineering from SBF. Only in this way could the desire of an aesthetically pleasing and at the same time highly functional lighting system be ideally catered for.“

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