Crane Merchandising Systems are one of (if not the) largest manufacturers of vending machines in the world. A couple of years ago they explained to me their design challenge to create an amber illuminated “halo” around a capacitive touch panel on a new coffee machine they had been commissioned to design and build by Autobar, Europe’s largest vending machine operator. Homogenous lighting was a pre-requisite.

I knew that MENTOR had a standard “M-Tube” product that could be adapted and homogenous light is what MENTOR is all about. MENTOR supported me by flying in two of their top engineers from Dusseldorf so that they could meet with Crane and fully understand the brief. The result was a 1.65M M-Tube of 6mm diameter powered by just two standard-brightness LEDs, yet delivering totally homogenous light along its entire length.

A few years, and many thousands of coffee machines later, Crane continue to order MENTOR M-Tubes for their coffee machine. As a nice twist to the tale, their US parent company saw the M-Tubes and had to have some for themselves for the bottle and snack vending machines they manufacture in the States. Everything in the US is bigger and brighter (!) so they specified a 2.7M long, 5mm diam. M-Tube. This was fitted with two very special Hi-Brightness LED light engines that MENTOR had developed, having innovatively overcome some challenging heat-management issue presented by the LEDs. These Hi-Brightness M-Tubes remain in high volume production in the States and I am proud to have contributed to this US project also.

M-Tubes. Another innovative and cost-effective design solution from MENTOR. I really do believe that there are many other potential applications for this technology. Can you think of one?

Leave a comment