(19)
(11)EP 2 550 481 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
06.05.2020 Bulletin 2020/19

(21)Application number: 11714431.1

(22)Date of filing:  21.03.2011
(51)Int. Cl.: 
F21S 41/143  (2018.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/IB2011/051158
(87)International publication number:
WO 2011/117795 (29.09.2011 Gazette  2011/39)

(54)

INTEGRAL LIGHTING ASSEMBLY

INTEGRALE BELEUCHTUNGSANORDNUNG

ASSEMBLAGE D'ÉCLAIRAGE INTÉGRÉ


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 23.03.2010 EP 10157348

(43)Date of publication of application:
30.01.2013 Bulletin 2013/05

(73)Proprietor: Lumileds Holding B.V.
1118 CL Schiphol (NL)

(72)Inventors:
  • SCHUG, Josef Andreas
    NL-5656 AE Eindhoven (NL)
  • SPINGER, Benno
    NL-5656 AE Eindhoven (NL)

(74)Representative: Rüber, Bernhard Jakob 
Lumileds Germany GmbH Intellectual Property Philipsstraße 8
52068 Aachen
52068 Aachen (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 1 903 274
EP-A2- 2 037 167
JP-A- 2005 317 226
US-A1- 2008 198 574
EP-A1- 1 980 787
DE-A1-102008 045 166
US-A1- 2006 120 094
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION



    [0001] The invention describes an integral lighting assembly and an automotive headlamp arrangement.

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



    [0002] In lighting assemblies used in automotive applications, for example, a particular requirement is that the bright/dark "cut-off" line of the light output by the lighting assembly satisfies certain regulations. Furthermore, this bright/dark cut-off line should be adaptable. The overall beam of light output by the lighting assembly should be adjustable, for example, to produce a low beam for illuminating the region directly in front of the vehicle and a high beam for extending the illuminated area. Adaptability of the light output is also desirable in certain situations, such as when driving into a bend, so that the area in the bend can be better illuminated with a resulting increase in safety. Furthermore, it may be advantageous to influence the amount of light in the foreground of the beam pattern, i.e. in a region of the beam closest to the vehicle, depending on traffic conditions and/or terrain, weather conditions, etc.

    [0003] The high beam and low beam have conventionally been generated using separate light sources in two separate lighting arrangements. Using conventional filament lamps or gas-discharge lamps, generally two lighting units are mounted in close proximity in a headlamp arrangement and configured so that the high beam and low beam are projected correctly into the relevant regions in front of the vehicle. Although headlamp optical systems do not use true "imaging" optics, usually one edge of the source or an edge of a shield element is "imaged" in order to obtain the required cut-off for the beam distribution. The quality of the light beams must satisfy certain requirements. For example, the shapes or contours of the light beams that would be projected onto a vertical transverse plane located at a standard distance from the headlamp, e.g. 25 meters, are covered by national and international specifications such as ECE (Economic Commission for Europe) R112.

    [0004] Lighting units or lighting assemblies using semiconductor light sources such as light-emitting diode (LED) chips are becoming more popular as advances in technology have led to economic and yet very bright semiconductor light sources. Since semiconductor light sources are compact, it would be convenient to combine two such light sources for two different beam functions into a single arrangement. However, known solutions have not shown satisfactory results. Because the light from each light source is directed at the single optical element, the physical separation between the two sources is also imaged and appears as a 'gap' between the projected beams, for example as a dark area between a low beam and a high beam. Even a minimal gap between the light source images results in a visual gap in the beam distribution. This can be a safety hazard when driving, since anything in this region is effectively invisible to the driver. In particular the verge or curb region to the side of the vehicle is critical, since pedestrians, animals or hazards in this region are then effectively invisible to the driver. Furthermore, because the secondary optic is 'shared', it must of necessity be larger, and the overall arrangement is about as large as an arrangement having separate optical systems for each function, so that the advantage of a compact light source is lost. The optical element could be designed to distort the beams in order to close this gap, but such a distortion unavoidably has a detrimental effect on the bright/dark cut-off line, which may then no longer satisfy the requirements. Furthermore, any corrective measures of the optical element affect both beams, so that a controlled correction of separate beams is not feasible.

    [0005] Document EP1903274A1 describes an integral lighting assembly according to the preamble of claim 1.

    [0006] Therefore, it is an object of the invention to provide an improved lighting arrangement that avoids the problems mentioned above.

    SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



    [0007] The object of the invention is achieved by the integral lighting assembly of claim 1, and by the automotive headlamp arrangement of claim 13.

    [0008] According to the invention, an integral lighting assembly comprises an optical arrangement, a first light source for generating a first beam of light and a first collimator for directing the first beam at the optical arrangement, and a second light source for generating a second beam of light and a second collimator for directing the second beam at the optical arrangement, wherein the collimators are arranged such that a collimator on one side of an optical axis of the lighting assembly directs its beam of light essentially at a region of the optical arrangement on the other side of the optical axis such that the first beam crosses the second beam before arriving at the optical arrangement, i.e. the first and second beams are directed at essentially separate regions of the optical arrangement. Thereby, the optical arrangement is realized to manipulate the first and second light beams to give a low exit beam and a high exit beam such that the low exit beam and the high exit beam at least partially overlap in an overlap region on a projection plane located at a predefined distance from the integral lighting assembly. The 'projection plane' is to be understood as a virtual plane or screen at a standard distance from the integral lighting arrangement, whereby the distance depends on the application for which the integral lighting arrangement is used. For example, for an automotive headlamp application, the standard ECE R112 mentioned in the introduction requires that such a virtual projection plane be located vertically in front of the vehicle, transverse to the direction of travel, and at a norm distance of 25 m from the headlamp arrangement.

    [0009] An obvious advantage of the integral lighting assembly according to the invention is that a region in front of the vehicle is always optimally illuminated, without any dark or non-illuminated 'gap' between the two exit beams. Furthermore, this can be achieved without having separate units, for example for 'low-beam' and 'high-beam' arrangements. This does away with the need for careful alignment of separate lighting units that is required for prior art solutions. The separation of the first and second beams upon arrival at the optical arrangement allows the optical arrangement to separately manipulate the exit beams to give the desired overlap region on the projection plane. Furthermore, since the low exit beam and exit beam are realized using a single optical arrangement, the overall integral lighting arrangement can be realized in a cost-effective manner.

    [0010] According to the invention, an automotive headlamp arrangement comprises such an integral lighting assembly. With the integral lighting arrangement according to the invention, it is possible to structure the beam for each beam function and still obtain a compact optical system, which is attractive for cost-effective LED headlamp solutions.

    [0011] The dependent claims and the following description disclose particularly advantageous embodiments and features of the invention. Features of the embodiments may be combined as appropriate to arrive at further embodiments.

    [0012] In the following, without restricting the invention in any way, it may be assumed for some realizations that the first and second collimators are arranged one above the other, so that the first and second beams are projected one above the other. In this case, one collimator may be referred to as the 'upper' collimator and the other may be referred to as the 'lower' collimator. Also, for the sake of simplicity, the first exit beam may be referred to in the following as a 'low' beam, and the second exit beam may be referred to as a 'high' beam. In some realizations which will be described below, the collimators may be arranged essentially symmetrically about an optical axis of the optical arrangement.

    [0013] The integral lighting arrangement according to the invention can be used to simply refract or deflect the light from the first light source in the optical arrangement (also referred to in the following as the 'secondary optic') to give a first exit beam, and similarly to refract or deflect the light from the second light source to give a second exit beam. However, it can be advantageous to manipulate the first and second beams so that the first and second exit beams satisfy certain functional requirements. Therefore, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, the optical arrangement of the integral lighting assembly comprises a spreading element for horizontally spreading any light incident at the spreader element and/or a shifting element for vertically shifting any light incident at the shifting element. The secondary optic can be only partially covered by these additional functional elements, or they can essentially completely cover the secondary optic.

    [0014] In automotive applications, a low beam or fog beam is used to illuminate a lower region in front of the vehicle. It is desirable to illuminate as wide an area as possible, in particular to illuminate the side of the road closer to the verge. Therefore, in a particularly preferred embodiment of the invention, the spreading element is realized to spread at least part of the first beam prior to manipulation by the optical arrangement such that the first exit beam is projected to give two overlapping first beam regions in the projection plane. These first beam regions comprise essentially a wider, more 'stretched' low beam as well as a non-manipulated low beam.

    [0015] In automotive applications, a high beam is preferably not only directed upwards, but also partly downwards so that the road is well illuminated. Therefore, in a particularly preferred embodiment of the invention, the shifting element is realized to shift at least part of the second beam prior to manipulation by the optical arrangement such that the second exit beam is projected to give two overlapping second beam regions in the projection plane. In this way, the manipulated part of the high beam can be 'pushed down' to overlap the low beam region, while the non-manipulated part of the high beam remains dedicated to the illumination of a higher region in front of the vehicle.

    [0016] In one embodiment of the invention, the optical arrangement preferably comprises a projection lens. A shifting element and/or a spreading element can be realized by mounting or attaching suitably shaped micro-structures on the back of the lens (i.e. the side of the lens facing towards the light sources). These micro-structures act to generate the optimal beam shape for each function. For example, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, the shifting element comprises a plurality of prism elements mounted on the projection lens and arranged to vertically shift the light incident at the shifting element prior to refraction by the projection lens. A series of such thin prism elements can be attached to a region of the lens and be arranged for example to shift the light away from the optical axis, prior to refraction by the projection lens. These prism elements can be used to shift part of the high beam, for example in a downward direction, so that the high beam illuminated area comprises two high beam regions, giving a more optimal beam performance.

    [0017] In another preferred embodiment of the invention, the spreading element comprises a plurality of cylindrical lens elements mounted on the projection lens and arranged to refract and horizontally spread the light incident at the spreader element prior to refraction by the projection lens. For example, a series of half-cylinder lenses can be attached to one region of the lens in order to refract and horizontally spread the incoming beam of light prior to refraction by the projection lens, for example to at least partially spread the low beam, so that the low beam illuminated area comprises two low beam regions, giving a more optimal low-beam performance.

    [0018] Alternatively, the optical arrangement can comprise a reflector enclosing the collimators and open at one end to allow the light beams to be directed outwards. In an integral lighting arrangement using a reflector, a shifting element and/or spreading element can be formed by manipulating the surface of the reflector, for example by creating suitably shaped facets in certain regions of the reflector. In an integral lighting arrangement realized using a reflector instead of a lens, the collimators are not necessarily arranged symmetrically about an optical axis of the reflector, and the reflector itself may be realized in an asymmetric manner.

    [0019] A separation of the beams upon arrival at the secondary optic is desirable for the purpose of an optimal beam shaping.

    [0020] A beam separation can be obtained in a number of ways. As mentioned above, the integral lighting assembly comprises a collimator arrangement in which the collimators are arranged such that a collimator on one side of an optical axis of the lighting assembly directs its beam of light essentially at a region of the optical arrangement on the other side of the optical axis so that the first beam crosses the second beam before arriving at the optical arrangement. In other words, an 'upper' collimator is arranged to direct its beam of light at a 'lower' region of the secondary optic, and a 'lower' collimator directs its beam of light at an 'upper' secondary optic region. Light beams passing through the focal point of a secondary optic will leave the secondary optic in an essentially parallel manner. In other words, for this 'crossing beams' realization, the light 'on' the focal plane that originates from the light exit opening of a collimator will effectively be projected by the optical arrangement to create the 'image' of that light exit opening. Therefore, in a high beam/low beam application, the 'upper' light source can be used to generate the low beam, while the 'lower' light source is used to generate the high beam. This realization is quite advantageous, since the collimator design can be favorably simple. The light sources, or more precisely the light exit openings of the collimators, are imaged on the virtual screen or projection plane. To obtain the desired overlap in the projection plane, the secondary optic can be modified by adding an additional functional element, for example a prism element, to shift part of the low beam upward, or part of the high beam downward, to obtain the desired overlap region.

    [0021] In a preferred embodiment of the invention, however, the projection plane overlap region is obtained by manipulating the first and second beam appropriately before they arrive at the secondary optic. Therefore, in a particularly preferred embodiment of the invention, the integral lighting unit comprises a collimator arrangement in which the collimators are arranged so that the first and second beams intersect at least partially in a focal plane overlap region on a focal plane of the optical arrangement so that the projection plane overlap region corresponds to the focal plane overlap region.

    [0022] A larger beam overlap on the focal plane will be associated with a larger overlap region on the projection plane or screen. However, it is generally desirable to have distinct exit beams with distinct illuminated areas, and a narrow overlap region on the projection plane. The light beams exiting the collimators should preferably only overlap very slightly on the focal plane. Also, since the light on the focal plane originating from a collimator will effectively be used to create the 'image' for the light source, as mentioned above, in a further preferred embodiment of the invention, the integral lighting assembly comprises a collimator arrangement in which light exit openings of the first collimator and the second collimator are located in close proximity to the focal plane of the optical arrangement. Here, the term 'close proximity' is to be understood to mean that the beams overlap only slightly on the focal plane. The actual distance between light exit openings and focal plane will depend on the dimensions of the integral lighting arrangement and the application for which it is intended. For example, using LED light sources in collimators of about 10 mm in length for a high beam/low beam automotive headlamp arrangement, this distance preferably comprises 2 mm, more preferably 1 mm, most preferably 0.5 mm.

    [0023] To allow the beams to cross, the collimators may be arranged at an angle to each other. However, from a manufacturing point of view, it may be preferable and more economical to mount both light sources on a common, essentially flat carrier instead of having two carriers arranged at an angle. Therefore, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, the integral lighting arrangement preferably comprises a collimator arrangement in which a prism element is mounted onto the light exit opening of one or both collimators. Such a prism element is preferably realized to refract the light beam towards the optical axis, allowing the first and second beams to overlap while at the same time allowing the light sources to be mounted onto a common flat carrier.

    [0024] Any suitable light source can be used that is sufficiently small and bright and which can be partially enclosed in a collimator. However, in a particularly preferred embodiment of the integral lighting assembly according to invention, the light source comprises an LED source. Very bright thin-film 'white' LEDs are available, for example, the Luxeon® Altilon LED. Without restricting the invention in any way, the first and/or second beams can be generated using one or more such light sources arranged in functional groups. For example, an array of LEDs in a corresponding collimator arrangement can be driven to generate a collective beam of light.

    [0025] A collimator enclosing a light source for a realization in which the light beams cross before arriving at the secondary optic or optical arrangement can be shaped in any suitable way. For example, the walls of the collimator can be arranged to give a rectangular cross-section (so that the corresponding beam is also essentially rectangular in cross-section) and can have a tapered form, a parallel form, etc. Preferably, the walls are shaped to give a beam of light that essentially retains its cross-section before arriving at the secondary optic. The walls of the collimators are preferably thin enough, so that when collimators are arranged at an angle to touch or almost touch (to allow a crossing of the beams), the light exit openings are as close together as possible. Therefore, a collimator wall thickness of about 0.1 mm to 1 mm is preferable. A collimator for directing its light beam at a region of the secondary optic on the same side of the optical axis is preferably shaped to result in a first/second beam overlap area of at most 20°, as described above. The length of the collimator can be chosen according to the system in which it is to be incorporated. For example, a short collimator with a length of about 6 mm could be used, or a long collimator with a length of about 18 mm. Preferably, for an automotive application such as an integral lighting arrangement for a headlamp, a collimator preferably comprises a near-die collimator with a length in the region of 12 mm, for instance 10 - 14 mm.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0026] 
    Fig. 1
    is a schematic representation of an automobile with a prior art headlamp arrangement projecting a high beam and a low beam onto a virtual projection screen;
    Fig. 2a
    is a schematic representation of a prior art lighting arrangement for projecting a high beam and a low beam onto a virtual projection screen;
    Fig. 2b
    is a schematic representation of a further prior art lighting arrangement for projecting a high beam and a low beam onto a virtual projection screen;
    Fig. 3
    is a schematic representation of an integral lighting arrangement according to a first embodiment of the invention;
    Fig. 4
    is a schematic representation of an integral lighting arrangement according to a second embodiment of the invention;
    Fig. 5
    is a schematic representation of an integral lighting arrangement;
    Fig. 6
    is a schematic representation of an integral lighting arrangement according to a third embodiment of the invention;
    Fig. 7
    shows a projection lens with added functional elements for use in an integral lighting arrangement according to the invention;
    Fig. 8
    is a schematic representation of an integral lighting arrangement according to a fourth embodiment of the invention;
    Fig. 9
    is a schematic representation of a headlamp arrangement according to an embodiment of the invention;
    Fig. 10
    is a schematic representation of an automobile with a headlamp arrangement of Fig. 8 for projecting a high beam and a low beam onto a virtual projection screen.


    [0027] In the drawings, like numbers refer to like objects throughout. Objects in the diagrams are not necessarily drawn to scale; in particular, the elements and relative positions of an optical arrangement such as a lens and a collimator are only indicated in a very simplified manner.

    DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS



    [0028] Fig. 1 is a schematic representation of an automobile 10 with a prior art headlamp 11 with a lighting arrangement projecting a low beam 160 and a high beam 170 onto a virtual projection screen 4. In the upper part of the diagram, the virtual screen 4 is shown in a side view at a standard distance D from the headlamp arrangement. According to standard, the distance D must comprise 25 m, and the spatial areas 41, 42 covered by the projections of the low and high beams on the screen must satisfy certain requirements. For example, the low beam 160 must illuminate a certain minimum region 42 to the front and sides of the headlamp. The low beam 160 must be directed towards the side of the automobile away from the centre of the road, so that the verge is better illuminated, while at the same time, the low beam 160 may not be directed at an area too high on the projection plane 4. Similarly, the high beam 170 must illuminate a certain minimum region 41 above the low beam region 110, so that the road is better illuminated over a long distance. The regions 41, 42 illuminated on a virtual screen 4 are shown in a plan view in the lower part of the diagram. This plan view of the virtual screen 4 illustrates the disadvantage of prior art lighting arrangements, showing that the regions 41, 42 covered by the high beam 170 and low beam 160 respectively do not give a complete illuminated area on the virtual screen, but are separated by a gap 43. This gap 43 manifests itself, from a driver's point of view, as a dark region or badly illuminated area, and may compromise the driver's safety or the safety of pedestrians or animals on the verge or roadside.

    [0029] Fig. 2a is a schematic representation of a prior art lighting arrangement for projecting a high beam 170 and a low beam 160 onto a virtual projection screen 4, and makes clear how the non-illuminated area 43 can arise. Obviously, the dimensions and distances in this and the following diagrams are rendered in an overly-simplified manner and are only intended to be explanatory in purpose. Here, two light sources S1, S2 are mounted on a carrier 13 or substrate 13 located behind a lens 2 in a headlight arrangement. One light source S1 is located 'above' an optical axis X, and the beam of light 16 originating from this light source S1 is imaged in a first exit beam 160 or low beam 160 to give the low beam projection 42 on the virtual screen. The other light source S2 is located 'below' the optical axis X, and the beam of light 17 originating from this light source S2 is imaged in a second exit beam 170 or high beam 170 to give the high beam projection 41 on the virtual screen 4. In this realization, the light sources emit in a Lambertian manner, so that a large proportion of the light output is lost, as indicated by the lines 15. The image 42 made of the upper light source S1 is indicated by lines originating from the centre of the light source S1, which converge at a point on the virtual screen 4 corresponding to the centre of the light source image 42 in the first exit beam 160. Similarly, the image 41 made of the lower light source S2 is indicated by lines originating from the centre of the light source S2, which converge at a point on the virtual screen 4 corresponding to the centre of the light source image 41 in the second exit beam 170 (for the sake of clarity, only the points describing the centre of a light source and its corresponding point in the image of that light source are shown in the diagram). The gap between the light sources S1, S2 is also 'imaged' as the gap 43 between the regions 41, 42 on the screen. However, because two clearly distinct imaged regions are required at the projection plane distance, it is not possible to simply place the light sources S1, S2 directly beside one another.

    [0030] Fig. 2b is a schematic representation of a further prior art lighting arrangement for projecting a high beam 170' and a low beam 160' onto a virtual projection screen 4. Here, each light source S1, S2 is located in a collimator C1, C2, so that more of the light can be used to render the light source images 41, 42 on the virtual screen 4. However, the light sources S1, S2 are still separate, so that the effective gap between the light sources S1, S2 (or the light exit openings of the collimators C1, C2) also results in a corresponding gap 43 between the images regions 41, 42 on the virtual screen 4.

    [0031] Fig. 3 is a schematic representation of an integral lighting arrangement 1A according to a first embodiment of the invention. Here, a pair of collimators C1, C2 each enclosing a light source S1, S2 is arranged behind an optical arrangement 2, in this case a projection lens 2, so that the light exit openings of the collimators C1, C2 are situated close to and behind the focal plane FP of the lens 2. Furthermore, the collimators C1, C2 are arranged so that each collimator directs its beam of light essentially at a part of the lens 2 on the opposite side of the optical axis X as the collimator. The term 'optical axis' is to be understood as an imaginary line defining the path of light propagation through the lens. In the case of an essentially symmetrical lens as shown here, the optical axis may be an axis of rotational symmetry of the lens. As the diagram shows, the first collimator C1 (above the optical axis X) directs its beam of light L1 at the lower part of the lens 2 (below the optical axis X), while the second collimator C2 (below the optical axis X) directs its beam of light L2 at the upper part of the lens 2 (above the optical axis X). The 'tight' light cones L1, L2 emitted by the collimators C1, C2 can be obtained, for example, by using collimators C1, C2 with essentially parallel side walls. The collimators C1, C2 are arranged so that the light beams L1, L2 partially intersect (as indicated by the shaded area) to give a focal plane overlap area LFP on the focal plane FP (indicated by the thicker line). An image of the 'object' in the focal plane FP is projected onto the virtual screen 4 to give a high-beam region 410 corresponding to the second light beam L2, and a low-beam region 420 corresponding to the first light beam L1. An overlap area 44 on the projection screen, being the overlap between the high-beam region 410 and the low-beam region 420, is effectively the 'image' of the focal plane overlap area LFP on the focal plane FP of the lens 2, and is emphasized by the thick black line. This overlap area 44 ensures that, from the driver's point of view, the area illuminated by the headlamps is optimally illuminated, without any 'dark gap' or non-illuminated area between low beam and high beam.

    [0032] Fig. 4 is a schematic representation of an integral lighting arrangement 1B according to a second embodiment of the invention. This realization is a further development of the realization of Fig. 3 described above. Here, the light beams L1, L2 exiting the collimators C1, C2 are first refracted by prism elements 6 mounted at the light exit openings of the collimators C1, C2, resulting in a larger focal plane overlap area LFP on the focal plane FP. This results in a better, larger overlap region 44 on the virtual screen 4, as indicated by the thicker black line.

    [0033] Fig. 5 is a schematic representation of an integral lighting arrangement not claimed by the invention. The principle of operation is different in this realization compared to the previous two embodiments. Here, a pair of collimators C1, C2 each enclosing a light source S1, S2 is arranged behind a projection lens 2, but the collimators are arranged so that each collimator directs its beam of light essentially at a part of the lens 2 on the same side of the optical axis X as the collimator. A first beam L1 is generated by the light source S1 in the first collimator C1, and is directed largely at the top half of the lens above the optical axis X. A second beam L2 is generated by the light source S2 in the second collimator C2, and is directed largely at the bottom half of the lens below the optical axis X. The conical light cones L1, L2 emitted by the collimators C1, C2 can be obtained, for example, by using collimators C1, C2 with an essentially parabolic shape. The collimators C1, C2 could also be realized as a bi-cavity collimator with a dividing wall, and wherein the outer walls of each collimator C1, C2 have a parabolic shape and the focal point of the parabola is located close to the common dividing wall. The projection lens 2 is equipped with additional functional elements 21, 22. A spreading element 21 is attached to the rear of the lens 2 towards the top, and a shifting element 22 is attached to the rear of the lens towards the bottom. Part of the first light beam L1 arrives at a central region of the lens 2, mostly in the upper half, and is projected onto a region 420 of the virtual screen. The rest of the first beam L1 arrives at the spreading element 21 and is spread and subsequently projected onto a region 421 on the virtual screen 4. The second beam arrives mostly in the lower half of the lens above the shifting element 22, and is projected onto a high-beam region 410 of the virtual screen 4. The remainder of the second beam arrives at the shifting element 22 where it is refracted and subsequently projected onto a shifted high-beam region 411 on the virtual screen 4.

    [0034] Fig. 6 is a schematic representation of an integral lighting arrangement ID according to a third embodiment of the invention. This realization is a combination of the principles of operation of the previous embodiments. Again, the collimators C1, C2 are arranged so that the first and second light beams L1, L2 intersect before the focal plane FP, but the lens 2 is also augmented by shifting element 22 and a spreading element 21. Because the collimators C1, C2 are arranged to direct their light beams L1, L2 across the optical axis X, the shifting element 22 is attached to the upper region of the lens 2, and the spreading element 21 is attached to the lower region of the lens 2. Parts of the first beam L1 and second beam L2, arriving at the lens 2 between the spreading element 21 and the shifting element 22, result in a low-beam region 420 and high-beam region 410 respectively on the virtual screen 4. The focal plane overlap area LFP on the focal plane FP is projected as the overlap area 44 on the virtual screen 4, while the spreading element 21 results in a more optimal low-beam region 421, and the shifting element 22 results in an improved high-beam region 411.

    [0035] Fig. 7 shows a projector lens 2 with added functional elements 21, 22 for use in the embodiments of the lighting arrangement according to the invention described in Figs. 5 and 6 above. In this realization, the shifting element 22 comprises a series of flat prism elements 220 directed to refract the incoming light away from the optical axis of the lens. This shifting element 22 is used to obtain the optimized high-beam region 411 on the virtual screen 4. The spreading element 21 comprises a series of cylindrical lenses 210 which act to spread the incoming light at this region of the lens 2, and which are used to obtain the wider low-beam region 421 on the virtual screen 4.

    [0036] Fig. 8 is a schematic representation of an integral lighting arrangement IE according to a fourth embodiment of the invention. Here, instead of a projection lens, a reflector 3 is used to direct the light out of the lighting arrangement 1. The reflector 3 is only schematically indicated in a simplified manner by the curved line, which represents a part of an essentially parabolic open-ended reflector. The pair of collimators C1, C2 are both arranged above an optical axis of the reflector 3 so that images of the light sources S1, S2 can be made without any 'shadow' of the collimator arrangement. The actual paths travelled by the light beams in three-dimensional space can only be indicated here in the diagram. Basically, some of the light issued by the first collimator C1 is directed at a spreading element 31 of the reflector 3. Similarly, some of the light issued by the second collimator C2 is directed at a shifting element 32 of the reflector. 3 These spreading and shifting elements 31, 32 can simply be appropriately shaped regions of the reflector 3, or they can be additional optical elements attached at appropriate positions on the inside wall of the reflector 3. The reflector 3 is designed to direct the light exiting the collimators C1, C2 to a low-beam region 420, a spread low-beam region 421, a high-beam region 410, and a shifted high-beam region 411 on a virtual screen 4. Again, an overlap region 44 is given by the overlap between the high-beam region 410 and the low-beam region 420.

    [0037] Fig. 9 is a schematic representation of a headlamp arrangement 12 according to an embodiment of the invention, and shows a optical arrangement comprising a pair of light sources S1, S2 arranged in a pair of collimators C1, C2 located behind a projection lens 2 in a housing 120. The light sources S1, S2, here LED light sources S1, S2 of a type such as Luxeon® Altilon, are mounted on a suitable heat sink 121. One or both of the collimators can be mounted on a moveable base which can be controlled to tilt the collimator towards or away from the optical axis X of the projection lens 2. A driver 122 supplies the necessary control signals for activating one or both of the light sources S1, S2, for example according to a user input (deliberately turning a high beam on), in response to a sensor (which may detect if the vehicle is passing over a crest of a hill or if the vehicle is turning into a corner), or in response to another appropriate control signal. For any situation then, the collimators C1, C2 of the lighting arrangement can be controlled so that the low beam and high beam optimally overlap in an overlap region as described above.

    [0038] Fig. 10 is a schematic representation of an automobile 10 with a headlamp arrangement 12 of Fig. 8 for projecting a high beam BHI and a low beam BLO onto a virtual projection screen 4 at a distance of 25 m from the headlamp arraignment 12. Using any of the embodiments described in Figs. 3 - 7 to manipulate the low and high beams BLO, BHI, an optimal overlap region 44 can be obtained on the virtual screen 4, ensuring in increase in safety of the driver and other road-traffic participants.

    [0039] Although the present invention has been disclosed in the form of preferred embodiments and variations thereon, it will be understood that numerous additional modifications and variations could be made thereto without departing from the scope of the invention. The integral lighting arrangement described herein can be used for any combination of two different types of light, for example high-beam/DRL (daytime running lights), fog/DRL, high-beam/fog, etc.

    [0040] For the sake of clarity, it is to be understood that the use of "a" or "an" throughout this application does not exclude a plurality, and "comprising" does not exclude other steps or elements.


    Claims

    1. An integral lighting assembly (1A, 1B, 1D, 1E) comprising

    - an optical arrangement (2, 3);

    - a first light source (S1) for generating a first beam (L1) of light;

    - a first collimator (C1) for directing the first beam (L1) at the optical arrangement (2, 3);

    - a second light source (S2) for generating a second beam (L2) of light; and

    - a second collimator (C2) for directing the second beam (L2) at the optical arrangement (2, 3);

    characterised in that the collimators (C1, C2) are arranged such that a collimator (C1, C2) on one side of an optical axis (X) of the lighting assembly (2, 3) directs its beam (L1, L2) of light essentially at a region of the optical arrangement (2, 3) on the other side of the optical axis (X) such that the first beam (L1) crosses the second beam (L2) before arriving at the optical arrangement (2, 3); and
    wherein the optical arrangement (2, 3) is realized to manipulate the first and second light beams (L1, L2) to give a low exit beam (BLO) and a high exit beam (BHI) such that the low exit beam (BLO) and the high exit beam (BHI) are partially combined in an overlap region (44) on a projection plane (4) located at a predefined distance from the integral lighting assembly (1A, 1B, 1D, 1E).
     
    2. An integral lighting assembly (1D, 1E) according to claim 1, wherein the optical arrangement (2, 3) comprises a spreading element (21) for horizontally spreading any light incident at the spreader element (21) and/or a shifting element (22) for vertically shifting any light incident at the shifting element (22).
     
    3. An integral lighting assembly (1D, 1E) according to claim 2, wherein the spreading element (21) is realized to spread at least part of the first beam (L1) prior to manipulation by the optical arrangement (2) such that the low exit beam (BLO) is projected to give two overlapping first beam regions (420, 421) in the projection plane (4).
     
    4. An integral lighting assembly (1D, 1E) according to claim 2 or claim 3, wherein the shifting element (22) is realized to shift at least part of the second beam (L2) prior to manipulation by the optical arrangement (2) such that the high exit beam (BHI) is projected to give two overlapping second beam regions (410, 411) in the projection plane (4).
     
    5. An integral lighting assembly (1A, 1B, 1D) according to any of claims 1 to 4, wherein the optical arrangement (2) comprises a projection lens (2).
     
    6. An integral lighting assembly (1D) according to claim 5, wherein the shifting element (22) comprises a plurality of prism elements (220) mounted on the projection lens (2) and arranged to vertically shift the light incident at the shifting element (22) prior to refraction by the projection lens (2).
     
    7. An integral lighting assembly (1A, 1B, 1D, 1E) according to claim 5, wherein the spreading element (21) comprises a plurality of cylindrical lens elements (210) mounted on the projection lens (2) and arranged to refract and horizontally spread the light incident at the spreader element (21) prior to refraction by the projection lens (2).
     
    8. An integral lighting assembly (1A, 1B, 1D) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the first and second beams (L1, L2) intersect at least partially in a focal plane overlap region (LFP) on a focal plane (FP) of the optical arrangement (2, 3) so that the projection plane overlap region (44) corresponds to the focal plane overlap region (LFP).
     
    9. An integral lighting assembly (1A, 1B, 1D) according to any of the preceding claims, comprising a collimator arrangement in which light exit openings (5) of the first collimator (C1) and the second collimator (C2) are located in close proximity to the focal plane (FP) of the optical arrangement (2, 3).
     
    10. An integral lighting assembly (1B) according to any of the preceding claims, comprising a collimator arrangement in which a collimator (C1, C2) comprises a prism element (6) at its light exit opening, which prism element (6) is realized to refract the light beam (L1, L2) towards the optical axis (X).
     
    11. An integral lighting assembly according to any of the preceding claims, wherein a light source (S1, S2) comprises a LED source (S1, S2).
     
    12. An integral lighting assembly according to any of the preceding claims, wherein a collimator (C1, C2) comprises a near-die collimator (C1, C2) with a length of between 6 mm and 18 mm, most preferably with a length in the region of 12 mm.
     
    13. An automotive headlamp arrangement (12) comprising an integral lighting assembly (1A, 1B, 1D, 1E) according to any of claims 1 to 12.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Integrale Beleuchtungseinrichtung (1A, 1B, 1D, 1E), umfassend:

    - eine optische Anordnung (2, 3),

    - eine erste Lichtquelle (S1) zur Erzeugung eines ersten Lichtstrahls (L1),

    - einen ersten Kollimator (C1), um den ersten Lichtstrahl (L1) auf die optische Anordnung (2, 3) zu richten,

    - eine zweite Lichtquelle (S2) zur Erzeugung eines zweiten Lichtstrahls (L2) und

    - einen zweiten Kollimator (C2), um den zweiten Lichtstrahl (L2) auf die optische Anordnung (2, 3) zu richten,
    dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass
    die Kollimatoren (C1, C2) derart angeordnet sind, dass ein Kollimator (C1, C2) auf einer Seite einer optischen Achse (X) der Beleuchtungseinrichtung (2, 3) dessen Lichtstrahl (L1, L2) im Wesentlichen auf einen Bereich der optischen Anordnung (2, 3) auf der anderen Seite der optischen Achse (X) richtet, sodass der erste Strahl (L1) den zweiten Strahl (L2) durchquert, bevor er die optische Anordnung (2, 3) erreicht, und
    wobei die optische Anordnung (2, 3) derart realisiert ist, dass sie den ersten und zweiten Lichtstrahl (L1, L2) manipuliert, um niedrigen Austrittsstrahl (BLO) und einen hohen Austrittsstrahl (BHI) zu ergeben, sodass der niedrige Austrittsstrahl (BLO) und der hohe Austrittsstrahl (BHI) zum Teil in einem Überlappungsbereich (44) auf einer Projektionsebene (4) kombiniert werden, die in einem vorgegebenen Abstand zur integralen Beleuchtungseinrichtung (1A, 1B, 1D, 1E) angeordnet ist.


     
    2. Integrale Beleuchtungseinrichtung (1D, 1E) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die optische Anordnung (2, 3) umfasst: ein Ausbreitungselement (21) zur horizontalen Ausbreitung eines etwa auf das Ausbreitungselement (21) einfallenden Lichtes und/oder ein Verschiebungselement (22) zur vertikalen Verschiebung eines auf das Verschiebungselement (22) einfallenden Lichtes.
     
    3. Integrale Beleuchtungseinrichtung (1D, 1E) nach Anspruch 2, wobei das Ausbreitungselement (21) derart realisiert ist, dass es mindestens einen Teil des ersten Strahls (L1) vor der Manipulation durch die optische Anordnung (2) ausbreitet, sodass der niedrige Austrittsstrahl (BLO) projiziert wird, um zwei sich überlappende Bereiche (420, 421) des ersten Strahls in der Projektionsebene (4) zu ergeben.
     
    4. Integrale Beleuchtungseinrichtung (1D, 1E) nach Anspruch 2 oder Anspruch 3, wobei das Verschiebungselement (22) derart realisiert ist, dass es mindestens einen Teil des zweiten Strahls (L2) vor der Manipulation durch die optische Anordnung (2) verschiebt, sodass der hohe Austrittsstrahl (BHI) projiziert wird, um zwei sich überlappende Bereiche (410, 411) des zweiten Strahls in der Projektionsebene (4) zu ergeben.
     
    5. Integrale Beleuchtungseinrichtung (1A, 1B, 1D) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 - 4, wobei die optische Anordnung (2) eine Projektionslinse (2) umfasst.
     
    6. Integrale Beleuchtungseinrichtung (1D) nach Anspruch 5, wobei das Verschiebungselement (22) eine Mehrzahl Prismenelemente (220) umfasst, die auf der Projektionslinse (2) montiert sind und derart angeordnet sind, dass sie das auf das Verschiebungselement (22) einfallende Licht vertikal verschieben, bevor dieses durch die Projektionslinse (2) gebrochen wird.
     
    7. Integrale Beleuchtungseinrichtung (1A, 1B, 1D, 1E) nach Anspruch 5, wobei das Ausbreitungselement (21) eine Mehrzahl Zylinderlinsenelemente (210) umfasst, die auf der Projektionslinse (2) montiert sind und derart angeordnet sind, dass sie das auf das Ausbreitungselement (21) einfallende Licht brechen und horizontal ausbreiten, bevor dieses durch die Projektionslinse (2) gebrochen wird.
     
    8. Integrale Beleuchtungseinrichtung (1A, 1B, 1D) nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei der erste und zweite Strahl (L1, L2) sich mindestens zum Teil in einem Überlappungsbereich (LFP) auf einer Brennebene (FP) der optischen Anordnung (2, 3) kreuzen, damit der Überlappungsbereich (44) der Projektionsebene dem Überlappungsbereich (LFP) der Brennebene entspricht.
     
    9. Integrale Beleuchtungseinrichtung (1A, 1B, 1D) nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, umfassend eine Kollimatoranordnung, bei der Lichtaustrittsöffnungen (5) des ersten Kollimators (C1) und des zweiten Kollimators (C2) in unmittelbarer Nähe der Brennebene (FP) der optischen Anordnung (2, 3) angeordnet sind.
     
    10. Integrale Beleuchtungseinrichtung (1B) nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, umfassend eine Kollimatoranordnung, bei der ein Kollimator (C1, C2) ein Prismenelement (6) an seiner Lichtaustrittsöffnung umfasst, wobei das Prismenelement (6) derart realisiert ist, dass es den Lichtstrahl (L1, L2) in Richtung der optischen Achse (X) bricht.
     
    11. Integrale Beleuchtungseinrichtung nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei eine Lichtquelle (S1, S2) eine LED-Quelle (S1, S2) umfasst.
     
    12. Integrale Beleuchtungsanordnung nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei ein Kollimator (C1, C2) einen Nahscheibenkollimator (C1, C2) umfasst, dessen Länge zwischen 6 und 18 mm, besonders bevorzugt im Bereich von 12 mm, liegt.
     
    13. Kfz-Scheinwerferanordnung (12), umfassend eine integrale Beleuchtungsanordnung (1A, 1B, 1D, 1E) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 - 12.
     


    Revendications

    1. Ensemble d'éclairage intégré (1A, 1B, 1D, 1E) qui comprend

    - un dispositif optique (2, 3) ;

    - une première source lumineuse (S1) destinée à générer un premier faisceau (L1) de lumière ;

    - un premier collimateur (C1) destiné à diriger le premier faisceau (L1) vers le dispositif optique (2, 3) ;

    - une seconde source lumineuse (S2) destinée à générer un second faisceau (L2) de lumière : et

    - un second collimateur (C2) destiné à diriger le second faisceau (L2) vers le dispositif optique (2, 3) ;
    caractérisé en ce que
    les collimateurs (C1, C2) sont disposés de sorte qu'un collimateur (C1, C2) sur un côté d'un axe optique (X) de l'ensemble d'éclairage (2, 3) dirige son faisceau (L1, L2) de lumière essentiellement vers une zone du dispositif optique (2, 3) de l'autre côté de l'axe optique (X) de sorte que le premier faisceau (L1) croise le second faisceau (L2) avant d'arriver au niveau du dispositif optique (2, 3) ; et
    dans lequel le dispositif optique (2, 3) est prévu pour manipuler le premier et le second faisceaux lumineux (L1, L2) afin de fournir un faisceau de sortie bas (BLO) et un faisceau de sortie haut (BHI) de sorte que le faisceau de sortie bas (BLO) et le faisceau de sortie haut (BHI) soient partiellement combinés dans une zone de superposition (44) sur un plan de projection (4) situé à une distance prédéfinie de l'ensemble d'éclairage intégré (1A, 1B, 1D, 1E).


     
    2. Ensemble d'éclairage intégré (1D, 1E) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le dispositif optique (2, 3) comprend un élément de diffusion (21) destiné à diffuser horizontalement n'importe quelle lumière incidente au niveau de l'élément de diffusion (21) et/ou un élément de décalage (22) destiné à décaler verticalement toute lumière incidente au niveau de l'élément de décalage (22).
     
    3. Ensemble d'éclairage intégré (1D, 1E) selon la revendication 2, dans lequel l'élément de diffusion (21) est conçu afin de diffuser au moins une partie du premier faisceau (L1) avant la manipulation par le dispositif optique (2) de sorte que le faisceau de sortie bas (BLO) soit projeté afin d'offrir deux premières zones de faisceau superposées (420, 421) sur le plan de projection (4).
     
    4. Ensemble d'éclairage intégré (1D, 1E) selon la revendication 2 ou la revendication 3, dans lequel l'élément de décalage (22) est conçu afin de décaler au moins une partie du second faisceau (L2) avant la manipulation par le dispositif optique (2) de sorte que le faisceau de sortie haut (BHI) soit projeté afin d'offrir deux secondes zones de faisceau superposées (410, 411) sur le plan de projection (4).
     
    5. Ensemble d'éclairage intégré (1A, 1B, 1D) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4, dans lequel le dispositif optique (2) comprend une lentille de projection (2).
     
    6. Ensemble d'éclairage intégré (1D) selon la revendication 5, dans lequel l'élément de décalage (22) comprend une pluralité d'éléments de prismes (220) montés sur la lentille de projection (2) et prévus pour décaler verticalement la lumière incidente au niveau de l'élément de décalage (22) avant la réfraction par la lentille de projection (2).
     
    7. Ensemble d'éclairage intégré (1A, 1B, 1D, 1E) selon la revendication 5, dans lequel l'élément de diffusion (21) comprend une pluralité d'éléments de lentilles cylindriques (210) montés sur la lentille de projection (2) et prévus afin de réfracter et de diffuser horizontalement la lumière incidente au niveau de l'élément de diffusion (21) avant la réfraction par la lentille de projection (2).
     
    8. Ensemble d'éclairage intégré (1A, 1B, 1D) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le premier et le second faisceaux (L1, L2) se croisent au moins partiellement dans une zone de superposition de plan focal (LFP) sur un plan focal (FP) du dispositif optique (2, 3) de sorte que la zone de superposition du plan de projection (44) corresponde à la zone de superposition de plan focal (LFP).
     
    9. Ensemble d'éclairage intégré (1A, 1B, 1D) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, qui comprend un ensemble de collimateurs dans lequel les ouvertures de sortie de lumière (5) du premier collimateur (C1) et du second collimateur (C2) sont situées à proximité immédiate du plan focal (FP) du dispositif optique (2, 3).
     
    10. Ensemble d'éclairage intégré (1B) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, qui comprend un ensemble de collimateurs dans lequel un collimateur (C1, C2) comprend un élément de prisme (6) au niveau de son ouverture de sortie de lumière, ledit élément de prisme (6) étant conçu afin de réfracter le faisceau lumineux (L1, L2) vers l'axe optique (X).
     
    11. Ensemble d'éclairage intégré selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel une source lumineuse (S1, S2) comprend une source à LED (S1, S2).
     
    12. Ensemble d'éclairage intégré selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel un collimateur (C1, C2) comprend un collimateur à matrice proche (C1, C2) avec une longueur comprise entre 6 mm et 18 mm, de préférence avec une longueur dans la zone de 12 mm.
     
    13. Ensemble de phare automobile (12) qui comprend un ensemble d'éclairage intégré (1A, 1B, 1D, 1E) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 12.
     




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    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description