Craft & Design
Flat light bulb

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I am in love with Joonhuyn Kim’s flat lightbulb via Hackedgadgets.

flat bulb is designed by korean designer joonhuyn kim. unlike ordinary bulbs its volume is 1/3 smaller, reducing the cost of packaging and transport. its slim shape allows bulbs to be easily stacked and prevents breakage as it does not roll. his work was on display as part of 100% design tokyo.

*A reader has reported that there is a “virus” on the artist’s site, so proceed with caution – not sure if something is there or not…

38 thoughts on “Flat light bulb

  1. @think: don’t forget heavier, and probably would produce uneven light, due to the thicker glass needed to support a vacuum inside a flat bulb.

  2. @Wilson: There’s usually no vacuum in light bulbs since they are filled with an inert gas, some guy discovered like 100 years ago that it’s more efficient to have them gas filled compared to vacuum.

    And anyhow – I don’t think that the light level would change that much by passing through glass that is like 3 mm instead of 0.3 mm, glass is basically clear, not tinted.

  3. @Think & Wilson
    I don’t see how?
    Maybe it’s ticker glass? but if its the same thickness as on an ordinary bulb it would use less glass. And also less metal. Only issue I can think of (except what Mike said) is that the flat sides are going to get much more heat from the filament, don’t know if that would be much of a problem. :S

  4. The cost to manufacture would be many, many times a normal bulb because of the flat shape. At retail it would be insanly expensive, and if the glass is thicker, it will cost more to ship and more in materials = worse for the environment…and a more complex manufacturing process = more energy = worse for the environment.

  5. @The Oracle
    Hmm, well, it’s a new shape and it would be produced in a small volume, so yes it would be ridiculously expensive. But let’s say it was the standard bulb shape. I don’t know a whole lot about glass manufacturing but I somehow doubt it would be much more expensive to make a flat shape instead of the ordinary round one if you made sufficiently large volumes. Same thickness would mean less glass & material actually, so whether it uses more glass in total would depend on how much thicker the glass would have to be. Since the package is only 1/3 the normal size it’s “reducing the cost of packaging and transport” = better for the environment. I don’t think it’s so obviously a bad idea… of course, incandescent light bulbs are pretty obsolete already with improvements to LED’s, fluorescents and other lamp technologies, so it’s a bit late anyway, except as a novelty. :)

  6. I do know a fair bit about the glass manufacture process, admittedly more focused on float glass than glass shapes, but still…round objects are easier to blow in a mold. An artist can do fantastic things with glass and make it look easy, but as far as industrial process, a round bulb is much easier to do than flat. Not saying a flatish mold is that hard, but harder (and more expensive) than round.

    Also, that filament gets extremely hot, thousands of degrees. It will definitely stress and maybe even soften the glass at the points closest to the filament. It’s quite possible the filament that close could ruin the temper of the glass and cause it to spontaneously shatter even once it’s cooled (even if it hasn’t been turned on for weeks — maybe as it’s turned on after a few weeks of disuse — it’s impossible to predict). And thicker glass to be stronger would be even worse as far as this problem.

    As far as the need for thicker glass. Take an egg in one hand and squeeze it. Most people aren’t strong enough the break it this way. Take an eggshell fragment and it’s incredibly fragile. Shape is critical to the strength of a light bulb. If you make it flat and yet as thin as a normal light bulb, it will also be incredibly fragile.

  7. everybody seems to be down on the impracticality of this. that’s not really the point. you will never find this on the shelf of wal-mart. i think it is great. it questions the design of something found in every one of our houses. you rarely think about it; you accept it. this makes you question it. it makes you think. i love it!

  8. @charliefreck — The article talks about the practicality of it, 1/3 the space, doesn’t roll, etc. How can you find it odd that people talk about how stupidly impractical it is?

    Also, how does it question the functionality of something found in every one of our houses? The indandescent lightbulb is obsolete. The only ones in my house are for decorative purposes, everything else is fluorescent. And LED allows you to be a lot more unique as far as questioning the design of the lightbulb. I’d give some examples of what you can do with LED, but we all read Make and it’s already done a better job than I can.

  9. @The Oracle — Well, I’ll take your word for it being impractical to make that bulb shape then. Still I would think it’s possible to make the bulbs flatter somehow, without much adverse effect, even if you don’t manage to get it down to 1/3 or similar. Incandescent lights usually fail because the filament break, not the glass.

    As for practical modern lighting, fluorescent light is clearly the best option right now. You could use LED’s for effect lighting (spots, color, etc), but don’t expect too much of the long-time stability of LEDs yet. (And the light-spectrum of white LEDs are likely far from natural white light as well (unlike modern fluorescents)).

  10. @Apis — Okay, I did a little research, a tungsten filament is 3000 degrees C. Glass melts around 1500 degrees C. Look how close the wire is to the glass in the picture. Incandecents usually fail because of the filiment breaks but they also don’t have the glass wall 3mm away from the filament. Glass temper is a very complex science.

    Go look up Rupert’s Drops, there was a nice post about them on Makezine a couple of months ago. I’ve had sheets of glass spontaneously shatter after not being moved for years (though I knew it was not properly tempered, it was taken off the line too early, the glass you can buy is safe). The kind of heat we’re talking about here that close to the glass can introduce very strange stresses.

    Wrt practical modern lighting, as I said before I was mentioned LEDs as something to make a statement with, not as practical room illumination.

  11. @The Oracle — Hmm, yes you are right. And if it was possible to have the filament so close to the glass why not simply make all of the bulb much smaller so that it just barely covers the filament. There ought to be a good reason for making them that particular size. But it makes me wonder why the 100W, 60W and 40W lamps all are the same size. :S

  12. @Apis — I would guess the bulbs are all the same size because it’s cheaper to have one size of mold and only have a single line to move the shells around the factory. Also people probably think of lightbulbs being a certain size and like their bulbs that size.

    I have a 200W incandecent in my garage and it’s huge compared to normal 100, 60, 40W bulbs.

  13. Very interesting. As a company, we at Superior Lighting are always looking for new ways to become more eco friendly. We offer energy efficient light bulbs and lighting solutions and work with vendors on sound packaging methods.  What else can we do?

    “See more at our site,


  14. As Apis said Flat Light Bulbs are all of same size but the voltage differs.Flat Bulbs are cheaper in cost of packaging and delivery.So Obviously its a good idea.

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