What would the ideal reflector look like to you?

ssanasisredna

Enlightened
Joined
Oct 19, 2016
Messages
457
I apologize in advance for my reply, but I can't see any other way to put it.

Basically this thread is someone who has no idea (from what I can tell) about how to design a reflector asking other people (who have no idea how to design a reflector), how to design a reflector. I don't see it ending well.

As has been repeated often in this thread, form follow function. You don't ask someone who has no idea how to design a reflector .... how to design a reflector. You are never going to get the right answer. However, you can ask them what they want the beam to look like .... of which you have gotten several good replies, none of which are likely to be the same because no beam is perfect for all situations.

Starting out with the premise of making metal reflectors to replace "stock plastic ones" may seem like an admirable goal, but I will take a properly designed plastic reflector, with a proper metalized reflective surface, that mechanically fits my flashlight in all aspects, and is very light over a metal one that does not work.

Design of a reflector does not start on the lathe, it starts, at least today, on the computer. That is where you make all your mistakes. At a bare minimum, it starts on a piece of paper tracing rays, but it's rather nasty on paper when all the resources to do it properly with far greater accuracy and flexibility exists on a computer. For prototyping, usually the next step, is a computer controlled lathe. Reflectors need to have rather perfect surfaces.

Silver is of course a good reflector, but as pointed out, you need to use tarnish resistant silver which generally is not inexpensive. The problem with silver is of course cost, but also weight. Aluminum reflects more than good enough for a reflector, but scratches very easy unless coated which is another process. Unlike the silver though, it will not degrade quickly.

I would suggest a path of progress to read as much as you can on reflector design and skim the threads for preferred beam profiles than work back from there.
 

EseriesModder

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Mar 6, 2017
Messages
29
There isn't supposed to be a right answer, I don't think. When you ask these questions you create discussions and you draw out anecdotes of individual instances where reflectors work in an especially useful way for their form factor, and then that helps you find examples that are worth looking at. Those examples are products that should evolve, and thats all I'm looking for. I don't care if you know how to design a reflector or not. I never imagined I did. Sorry if I offended Ssanasisredna.

I don't think you can say "it starts" anywhere, because some people are going to skip the computer step (or before that the paper step) and jump straight onto the lathe, or dapping block, or vacuum die, or what have you. Thats obviously not how I would advise doing anything, I'm just saying.

Proprietary products, like a specific company's flashlight or other electronic device, need that much thought to evolve, but common objects, like cooking utensils or flashlights in general, evolve regardless simply because of the sheer number of them hitting the market.

Some of them inevitable land on useful improvements regardless of how little thought was involved. That might have been someone making a knock-off of something else, it doesn't matter, but as long as it works and gets incorporated into some future version of that object then the consumer still wins. I'm a consumer, so I appreciate that, even if that makes me a little simple minded.
 

EseriesModder

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Mar 6, 2017
Messages
29
I also gotta say... Aluminum needs to be coated with something to make a good reflector. Bare it will oxidize and wont reflect well. Look at old aluminum hardware, they're dull grey. That's their natural oxidized state. Silver will be fine until it tarnishes, you're correct, but it doesn't "degrade" quickly.

Highly polishing metal will decrease the surface grain, improving the metals environmental resistance a bit. Besides polishing you can plate a smooth surface on. That's why some dental tools are chromed. Also because smooth surfaces are less sticky, but thats also part of why they don't tarnish as quickly as rough surfaces. Anyway.

Tarnish resistant metals aren't expensive either. They're practically the same price, and that increase depends mostly on availability of the form you're looking for(wire, sheet, casting grain, etc). People mostly want sterling silver, so companies that mix proprietary alloys of silver are always trying to encourage people to try them.

Sorry. I just wanted to add that for anyone who actually cares.
 
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