Light Emitting Diodes

One of the more exciting topics in the electrical field today is energy efficient LED lighting.  LED lights are not new but using them as an area lighting source is a fairly recent development and is growing very fast.  LED lighting is so efficient compared to the more common forms of lighting and it lends itself to so many applications that it is leaving older and more traditional forms of lighting in the dark.


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Light Emitting Diodes known as LED’s were developed by scientists James R. Baird and Gary Pittman in 1961. The LED uses electroluminescence in a semiconductor to create light. Electroluminescence is a phenomenon of a material emitting light when electric current is passed through it.  It gets much more complicated than this but basically different types of semiconductor materials produce different colors of light. Typically the LED was used as colored indicator lights.  With the more recent development of the “white” LED, scientists have discovered a great energy efficient replacement for the more common forms of lighting, especially the incandescent bulb. There is actually no such thing as “white” LED. To get white light like we have in our homes, different colored lights are mixed or covered with a phosphor material that converts the color of the light.



With a growing world trying to save energy, the discovery of the white LED is a welcome event.  The two most common household lights that the LED will replace are the Incandescent bulb and the Fluorescent bulb especially the CFL. light-915220_1920 The incandescent bulb is a great light and is used in almost every application imaginable but it is just too inefficient. About 90% of the energy used by an incandescent bulb is put off in heat. light-bulb-503881_1920To compare the three light sources that we are mostly concerned with here by a measurement of Lumens per watt, the Incandescent bulb produces about 13 lumens per watt, the CFL produces about 57 lumens per watt and the LED produces about 100 lumens per watt. These figures can vary quite a bit depending upon the application and the design of the fixture.  To put this into perspective with an everyday item we will use the 60 watt incandescent bulb: Incandescent 60 watts, CFL 13 to 15 watts and the LED using 6 to 8 watts. As you can see the CFL is a great deal more efficient than the incandescent bulb but it still puts off about 85% of its energy into heat.  Then we have to pay to run the air conditioner if we want to stay cool in an area with these heat sources.  It has been said that if every household would install one CFL to replace the incandescent bulb it would save enough energy for three hundred thousand houses.  Imagine the possibilities if people used a few LED bulbs in their houses.  When considering return on investment, large facilities need to also consider maintenance costs.  In some facilities, changing light bulbs can be a time consuming and even difficult job.  A great deal of maintenance could be saved by using bulbs that last two or three times as long as fluorescent bulbs.  I once quoted new lights for Metaltech Products, Inc.  The salesman actually tried to show how the reduction in maintenance time costs was worth nearly as much as the energy savings.

There are so many special applications where the LED has proven to be a great advantage.  For one thing they are durable and shockproof.  Have you ever experienced the frustration of using a droplight or flashlight and drop it only to find yourself in total darkness because the filament broke in your incandescent bulb? flashlight-629668_1920 That does not happen with the LED because there is no filament to break.  LED bulbs are just great for flashlights because they are so adaptable to small power supplies.  Actually high voltages reduce the LEDs good quality light lifespan.  Not so very long ago if you wanted a flashlight or a (miner’s) headlight to last more than six or eight hours you had to literally carry a small automobile type battery with you.  Now with the LED bulb one can have a light that will last all night with a power supply no larger than a man’s wallet.  So it does not flatten the wallet anymore to let the kids play with the flashlight.  It takes forever to wear the batteries down and they won’t break the bulb.  In any application where there could be considerable vibration as in a vehicle or heavy equipment these bulbs really shine.

One very positive issue with the LED bulb is that if you have one go bad or break one they can be disposed of in the regular trash.  There are recycle programs for working and non-working Christmas lights but not for the regular bulbs.  There is no environmental concern as there is with the CFL and its mercury content. Sure, you don’t want to consume a broken LED bulb as it contains a little lead, copper and possibly arsenic. Not very many people will do that.

There are a few disadvantages to this new form of lighting.  The first one that usually comes to mind is cost.  The LED can seem like a significant investment at first.  It is common for it to cost ten times as much as a comparable incandescent bulb.  But consider that it will last probably more than ten times longer and cost about 10% as much to use as the incandescent bulb. hall-621741_1920 For the homeowner the actual return on investment will depend greatly upon the price paid for electricity and the amount of time the bulb is operated.  The price of LED lighting is dropping though as the technology is rapidly advancing.  Part of the price issue is from the fact that the rare earth metals used to make these lights are sometimes difficult to obtain from different places around the world. While LED lights do not create a great deal of heat, some large arrays of them do require a considerable heat sink to remove the heat because they are sensitive and could be damaged by large temperature changes.  If a light array is high enough of a wattage draw, sometimes it will require a cooling fan.  This of course just adds to the cost of making some of the large LED lights.  LEDs do have reduced lumen output over time.  The expected life of the LED bulb is not the amount of time it is expected to operate until it fails like other bulbs but the amount of time expected for it to reach 70% of the lumen output it had when it was new.  LEDs are a directional light source, which means that they emit light in a specific direction, unlike incandescent and CFL bulbs which emit light and heat in all directions. Because of this LED lighting is able to use light and energy more efficiently in many applications.  It also means that engineering is needed to produce an LED bulb that shines light all around like the bulbs we are used to.

There is considerable discussion about whether LED lights attract fewer bugs than other common light sources. Some people are sure that these new bulbs make a huge difference.  Others swear that it does not make any difference at all.  I have not been able to find any claims about this topic from manufacturers.  Reading the discussions, it seems that it has more to do with the color spectrum of the light.  The warm white or the bulbs with yellow on them seem less likely to attract bugs than the more blueish spectrum.

There are now so many choices in purchasing LED bulbs.  Sometimes you find two bulbs that look very similar but there is big difference in price.  How do you make a decision on what to buy?  Well for one thing, look for the ENERGY STAR label.  There may be a reason that one choice is so much less expensive.  The ENERGY STAR label ensures that the product was built to certain standards that will ensure the energy efficiency, consistency and quality of the product.  It should give some peace of mind to the consumer.


Here are a few things that the ENERGY STAR program will have some impact on:

Six different requirements for color to ensure color quality, now and as the bulb ages;

Light output minimums, light distribution requirements and guidelines for equivalency claims;

Long term testing by manufacturers to back up longevity claims;

Three year minimum warranty requirement;

And as with all ENERGY STAR products, these are subject to random testing to ensure quality.


The LED light is still undergoing a lot of study and improvements but it is here to stay.  This little jewel has so many great attributes and possibilities.  The applications are endless, the disadvantages are few.  It is efficient, safe and will last a long time.  Bite the bullet, and purchase a few of these with the help of the ENERGY STAR label.  I think you will be glad you did.  Let this great little light reduce your energy bill and brighten your day!


Herman Hempel


Herman Hempel, Senior Maintenance Technician

Metaltech Products, Inc.









Three Generations of Racing

Hello, my name is Ben Newell. I had originally started my career at Metaltech Products, Inc. six years ago in the welding division, but I am currently the Assembly Supervisorphoto

My wife Kelly and I will be celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary this November.  We have two sons, J.C. (nineteen years old) and his younger brother Dayton (fifteen years old).

Stock car racing has been a tradition in our family since my Father started it back in 1970, the same year I was born. It seems like Dad was always “the guy to beat.” I watched him win a ton of races and several championships. I always swore I would grow up to be just like him and I still strive for that each day.

I started my career in 1984 at Lake Ozark Speedway in Camdenton, MO. Since that time I have raced State wide, winning approximately two-hundred races with ten track championships.

Final Race Car Pic

My oldest son, J.C. , started his racing passion a year younger than me at the age of thirteen. He started out on the dirt modifieds, and actually won the very first race he participated in! In the recent past, he has won two dirt modified track championships and one Asphalt Sportsman Championship. Most recently, he took first place in both the I-44 Speedway Late Model Division and the Nascar Whelen All-American Series here in Missouri. I look for him to out-shine his old man during his career. Check out J.C.’s Facebook page “JC Newell Racing” for updates.

J.C. Newell's Race Car

We are proud to be flashing the Metaltech logo on J.C.’s car as he continues to scream by the checkered flag each week. Metaltech has been and continues to be a great sponsor in all my families racing endeavors.


Dayton, our newest entrant in our family racing tradition, started racing dirt modifieds this year at Dallas County Speedway, and in the Sportsman class at I-44 Speedway. He shows a lot of potential and we are very proud of him.

The good Lord has truly blessed me with the family and friends I have. I rise every morning knowing I am a very lucky man. Good luck to all you racers and race fans out there that have motor oil and gasoline running through your veins! Godspeed!


Ben Newell, Assembly Supervisor




Who’s Job is it?

Everybody’s, Somebody’s, Anybody’s or Nobody’s?

 There are four people named: Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody

 There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. 

 Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. 

 Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. 

 Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. 

 It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

 -Author Unknown


There is opportunity for both businesses and individuals to thrive in a competitive global economy ball-626873_1280 by embracing and implementing “internal cross-training.”   

Internal cross-training is not necessarily a new concept, but businesses that can successfully create a skilled, mobile, and immediately available workforce can react favorably to rapidly changing customer demands.  This concept especially applies to small businesses because it allows employees to easily transfer to other needed positions outside of their normal skill-set(s) when needed, and can positively affect workflow and productivity.  Many businesses cannot afford to be overstaffed; more importantly, they cannot afford to be understaffed without implementing a cross-training program either.  In general, cross-training allows businesses to utilize a lean manufacturing process with human resources (i.e. employees).

Some employers may find resistance by a few employees who are asked to share their job knowledge with co-workers.  These employees may present a negative or hostile attitude toward the subject, but it can often just be a reaction of common objections such as fear. For example, they may believe that if their co-worker(s) learns their “job secrets,” that it can make them more vulnerable to future layoffs, etc.  The actual reality in many cases, is that these same employees could individually benefit by being a team-player while gaining a better sense of job security.  How?  Employers usually know who their major contributors are, and the opportunity to shine for an individual employee is a golden one if they choose to have a positive attitude, embrace change, and take a lead role in helping to cross-train others. learn-897410_1280 When financial times are challenging, do you think employers would rather have a superstar employee who works independently on their own tasks at all times, or a superstar employee who also makes continuous efforts to help create more superstar employees around them?  Opportunity is knocking – it’s up to each individual to choose if they want to hear it and act on it.  Employees who are willing to learn new skills and embrace new job duties can add more value to their professional careers.  Also, many employees have reported that they have experienced personal growth and satisfaction by becoming a mentor / trainer to others as a result of witnessing their trainee(s) grow and prosper.





Six Benefits of Internal Cross-Training Include:  


1.) Flexibility; creates an employee base that can quickly adapt to the ever changing needs of customers.  For example, many manufacturing companies cross-train their employees so that multiple members of their production team can do more than one task, operate more than one machine, transfer from one department to another (e.g. welding department to assembly department, etc.) when needed.



2.) Standardization; businesses can create policies and procedures to describe how specific job duties are performed in a variety of areas.  An example would be a metal manufacturing company (e.g. laser cutting, forming, welding, paint, assembly, etc.).  Cross-training provides the opportunity to ensure that all employees are following approved documented guidelines for manufacturing products.  Quality is always a given of manufacturing plants, and the more streamlined internal processes can be, the more likely quality will remain at an acceptable level (assuming checks and balances are in place to monitor that these processes are followed correctly and consistently).


3.) Improved Efficiency; employees who internally cross-train other employees have to analytically think about the action steps in the job duties at hand (an excellent refresher course for them).  Also, new trainees tend to ask good questions that can ultimately help in changing or even improving policies and/or procedures (often times because they have fresh idea-152213_1280perspectives and/or ideas to improve upon an antiquated/outdated process).  In our manufacturing example, employees can also learn how quickly to expect a product to flow toward their workspace, and they can be prepared to complete their job duties in a timely manner knowing that they cannot afford to get behind (or they will be responsible for holding-up an entire assembly line).



4.) Knowledge Gain & Job Security; cross-training is an excellent way for knowledge to be shared between employees.  Specific knowledge critical to businesses is not “lost” if a successful cross-training program is in place.  Customer demands can be continued to be taken care of without delay (due to having other employees available to “fill-in” and bridge the needed skills gaps).


5.) Improved Teamwork; relationships among employees and departments are an important aspect of a healthy work environment.  Cross-training can reveal different perspectives of employees, and a greater understanding (and hopefully appreciation) regarding their co-workers’ job duties.  Employees are more likely to be able to see “the big picture” by internally cross-training in a variety of different jobs and/or departments.


6.) Improved Morale; some jobs can be monotonous.  Internal cross-training allows employees to break-up regular routines and learn new skills.  The result is often increased motivation and improved morale.


-Kevin Keagy, Human Resources & Marketing Manager