What are lampshades

Lamp material: advantages and disadvantages of the most commonly used materials

Most lights are made of metals, plastics, glass or natural materials such as wood and textiles. Each group of materials has its own advantages and disadvantages, and there are also major differences in the individual metals, plastics, etc. Manufacturers also want to optimize certain material properties with numerous new materials.

Decisive differences between different materials for luminaires include, for example, how long the material lasts and what needs to be considered when caring for it. Weight and manufacturing costs also have a direct impact on the purchase decision. Of course, the appearance plays an important role, because every new lamp is a meaningful statement in the interior.

Metals: Resistant and easy to clean

Various metals © Phonlamai Photo / Shutterstock.com

The most common metals are aluminum, nickel, chrome, cast iron and stainless steel. Basically, metals can be processed very flexibly and impress with their long durability. In addition, metallic materials can be completely recycled. Apart from their relatively high dead weight and susceptibility to rust, metals have no significant disadvantages. Corrosion is prevented with various methods in the manufacturing process, paintwork and refined surfaces.

aluminum is often refined by powder coating or anodizing (electrolytic oxidation) in order to achieve a higher resistance to rust and wear. Anodized aluminum has the hardest and most scratch-resistant surface and therefore offers the best protection against corrosion. Cast aluminum is a less high-quality variant of the metal that makes the manufacturing process particularly cost-effective.

nickel and chrome are applied more as a thin layer to the surface of lights made of cast aluminum, aluminum or iron in order to protect these less resistant metals from rust and signs of wear and to create a special attractiveness. Caution: When cleaning, make sure that there are no scratches on the surface, which sooner or later cause wear and tear on the material and ugly spots. Metal luminaires can be cleaned quickly and easily with a damp cloth with a smooth surface. Nickel is usually matt, chrome usually so shiny that one is reflected in it.

Forge or cast iron has been an essential component for lights in the rustic, traditional country house style for centuries, for example lantern-like outdoor lights and pendant lights with ornate frames and whitewashed glass shades. Since it is very weather-resistant, it can be left outside all year round without being damaged. The only disadvantage, depending on the intended use, is the high weight and the relatively high risk of rust, which can be counteracted with paintwork.

stainless steel, Steel with less than 0.025% sulfur and phosphorus, looks particularly high-quality, is lighter and just as weather-resistant. In addition, stainless steel lights do not rust as quickly. But even if the stainless steel is called 'rust-free' - the day of the first rust spots will come, even if this may take many decades.

Lights off Brass or old brass, alloys of copper, zinc and other metals, look golden, which makes them look particularly noble. In terms of price, they are still relatively cheap. The only disadvantage is that brass has to be cared for regularly so that no deposits of grease and dirt form, which would dull the material. However, many brass lights are coated with a colorless protective layer of lacquer that is simply wiped off and does not need to be polished.

Plastics: Inexpensive and practical

Plastics are very inexpensive to manufacture and are characterized by their very low weight. During processing, they can be glued much better than metals. All color tones are possible without further ado. Many lampshades are made up of Acrylic glass (PMMA, polymethyl methacrylate), which is colloquially often equated with the brand name Plexiglas.

One of the disadvantages of plastic is that it takes 500 years to rot; Recycling processes are usually not economical enough. The materials artificially obtained from the refining of crude oil age continuously: they are very easy to clean with a suitable care product and a soft cloth, but the wrong cleaning agents and oils can lead to ugly spots on the surface that quickly worsen.

Natural fiber materials: beautiful and noble

Non-metallic materials © WichitS / Shutterstock.com

Non-metallic materials that are (more or less) taken directly from nature, such as Wood, Textile fabrics and rattan or Wickerwork, score above all with their warm, natural and noble charisma. The main disadvantage is that they are more sensitive. Dents, holes and spots appear quickly; Incorrect cleaning agents can also cause great damage.

Wood should be wiped with a cloth occasionally to remove dust and freshen up the material. After a very long period of use, wood may have to be repainted. Lampshades off Japanese paper yellow over time and may have to be bought later, but normally only very low costs are incurred.

Glass: classically chic

Real glass simply looks more elegant than acrylic glass or other plastic. But of course there is a higher risk that the lampshade will break. Clear glass lets all of the brightness pass through. Whitened glass (Opal glass), on the other hand, acts as a stylish diffuser that softens the brightness and scatters it evenly. Colorful and patterned glass creates wonderful light effects.

In-house developments: Optimized and multifunctional

With specially developed materials, properties such as strength, rigidity, dead weight and resilience can be improved. In this way, materials are created that combine the advantages of very different lamp materials. For example, a quick look at the in-house creations of the Italian designer lighting manufacturer Slamp: Opalflex is a recyclable plastic that combines the beauty of glass with the breakage resistance of plastic. Cristalflex scores with extremely low weight. Steelflex is pliable, flexible and has a reflective surface. You can order the popular Slamp lights in the Lampe.de shop, as well as lights made from all the lighting materials described in the text.