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Venue’s Brilliant Rear: The Secret of Lenticular Lenses

2019-09-06

The unprecedented LED lenticular lens technology influenced the Hyundai Venue’s rear design; the rear combination lamps show 3-dimensional, varied patterns that can be seen from different angles. What’s hidden behind this technology?

Venue’s tidy rear end design features the world’s first application of lenticular lenses on cars

It is the face, or the front end, of the car that determines the vehicle’s impression, but it is the rear end of the car where the other drivers’ gazes remain the longest. Particularly, the rear lamp is a central component of the rear end design. It also serves a crucial function of letting others know of the vehicle’s braking and turning, therefore being subject to rigorous safety requirements. In other words, it must simultaneously chase the two hares of form and function.

Lenticular lenses are situated above and below the rear lamp. In the midst of the tidy rear end design, the presence of moving images produced by lenticular lenses is absolutely striking. To some, it inspires an image of boiling magma; others note that it resembles a sprinkling of small jewels. In this article, we investigated the way in which the technology works and traced its developmental processes.

Lenticular lenses are placed above and below the Venue’s rear lamp

How the Lenticular Lenses Work

As stated, lenticular lenses give an illusion of depth and movement as they are viewed from varied angles. A useful analogy might be the hologram stickers of our childhood, ones that were specially coated to produce several different images depending on the viewing angle.

How do lenticular lenses create this illusion of movement? We have two eyes, right and left, which allows us to feel depth and perspective—lenticular lenses take advantage of this property in our vision.

Lenticular lenses take advantage of binocular disparity(the difference between the perspectives of the left and the right eye) to produce three-dimensional images.

Lenticular lenses have a convex shape. The LED light from the lamp, passing through the two-dimensional image pattern, is in turn refracted by the convex lenses and produces a three-dimensional image, due to the differences in the viewing angles between the left and the right eye. The two-dimensional image patterns, convex shape of the lenses, and binocular disparity together produce in viewers an illusion of depth and movement.

Structure of the Lenticular Lens Sheet

Lenticular lens sheet (Sheet) is a term for the entire module that includes the lenticular lenses. The sheet consists of a thin-plate-laminated structure that is only 1.6mm thick, which is mounted between the rear lamp outer lens and the LED light source.

The internal structure of the Venue’s rear lamp. The light yellow stripe in the middle is the lenticular lens sheet responsible for producing the 3D effect

When the LED is turned on, the light passes through the lens and emits starry, brilliant light

The sheet is crafted through thirteen rigorous manufacturing processes, such as lens coating with rollers, thin-film printing, and NC processing. The finished sheet consists of four layers, as described below.

The first layer consists of lenticular lenses, the crux of the sheet, and a thin film on the outermost layer to protect the lenses. Excluding the protective film and the adhesive layer, the lens itself is only 0.025mm thick—about a quarter of the average width of human hair— and practically invisible to the naked eye.

Below the first layer is the 2D image pattern, responsible for the sheet’s design elements. Still below that layer is the black ink layer, printed at varying widths to add clarity to the patterned images (the thicker the ink layer, the lower the light penetration). Finally, a reinforced printing layer is added below for protection.

The World’s First Application to Automobile Lamps

While lenticular technology has been used for billboards and 3D displays, the Venue represents the world’s first application on automobile lamps. From the concept and advanced development (Advanced Body Development Team), planning (Lighting Vision Engineering Design Team), to design (Hyundai Design Quality Team), the application was made possible through systematic collaboration of related departments.

First, the rear lamp serves a crucial communicative function, such as notifying others of braking, so it had to meet such rigorous safety requirements as light intensity and distribution standards. As lenticular lenses had never been used for automobile lamps before, new standards had to be developed for evaluation, such as distance and the angles at which the 3D effect is produced.

The process of development entailed many obstacles. The developer in charge comments, “The biggest challenge was simultaneously achieving stationary depth and followability.” Stationary depth is the degree to which the image appears three-dimensional while the viewer stands still, and followability is the degree to which the lenses’ patterns appear natural while the viewer is in movement. The two qualities are determined by the height of and the space between the convex lenses, but because of their conflicting nature, it was very difficult to find the right balance between the two. It took nearly three years of countless trials and errors before the regulation-compliant, beautiful 3D effect of present was realized.

Hyundai’s Design Team was responsible for the pattern design. At first glance the pattern appears random, but it is actually a product of painstaking multi-department cooperation. The finished product blends triangular, circular, and star-shaped patterns tangled about everywhere, rounding off a unique design.

Lenticular lenses’ image pattern design features seemingly random entanglements of triangles, circles, and stars

The newest addition to Hyundai’s SUV family, the Venue belongs to the small segment that inevitably has limitations in high-end feel. And yet, thanks to the efforts of the brand’s researchers, the Venue has succeeded in maximizing the design effects—while minimizing the increase in costs—by applying lenticular lenses to innovate a unique rear end.