In 2001 Áron Losonczi – back then a 24 year old student – had the striking idea to make concrete blocks look a bit nicer and visually appealing by mixing concrete with optical glass fibers, and the result was Light Transmitting Concrete. In the following two years he had developed a manufacturing technology supported by engineers from the Budapest University of Technology to transform his prototype into a marketable product that can be produced in bigger quantities. In 2003 his invention – LiTraCon™ – was presented at several exhibitions and given the huge public interest it was obvious that Áron’s solution will be sought after. Driven by the excellent feedback from industry experts he has patented the product and in 2004 founded his company in Csongrád, Hungary to manufacture and market LiTraCon solutions and products worldwide.
LiTraCon consists of 96% concrete and only 4% optical glass fibers. Despite the seemingly low content of glass fibers in the final pre-fabricated concrete block, light is led between the two sides of a given block. Due to the parallel position of the glass fibers, light on the brighter side of the wall appears unchanged on the darker side. The most interesting form of this phenomenon is probably the visible display of shadows on the other side of the wall, meanwhile the colour of the light remains the same. These elements can be used indoors and outdoors as decorative building elements such as walls, partition walls, pavements, floors, bar-top covers and possibilities are endless.
LiTraCon was considered such an innovative solution that it was awarded with several renown industry prizes such as the highly coveted Red Dot ‘Best of the Best‘ Award in 2005, the LeafAwards in 2006 for ‘Best Use of Innovative Technology and Thoughtful Design in a Small Scheme‘, in 2006 it was nominated for the Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany. To top all these recognitions, LiTraCon received the iF Material Award in 2008 from the iF International Forum Design.
Since the introduction of LiTraCon Áron Losonczi has developed two other products that are commercially available: the first one is LiTraCube lamp that is made of the LiTraCon elements. The other one is LiTraCon pXL®, a new concept using specially formed and patented plastic unit for light transmission instead of optical glass fibers. The patented plastic unit as well as the industrialized way of manufacturing enable the new pXL product to be positioned in a more attractive price range.
Where creativity and success are present, copy cats are not far either and unfortunately, it was not any different in Áron’s case either. However, thanks to the legal protection by patent rights of LiTraCon, Áron and his lawyers were able to win all legal cases at courts against copying companies worldwide (including the world’s third largest cement factory in Germany!) that tried to infringe his intellectual property. ‘Experts’ argue about the invention per se and about who & when had the basic idea first, however it is without a doubt that Áron and his team were the first across the globe, who were able to find a way to produce light transmitting concrete in an industrial setting and this is also the reason why the patent was granted to Áron – and rightly so.
With all the great ideas people have worldwide, inventors and entrepreneurs have to be extremely careful and protect their intellectual property by law. Copy cats are everywhere and considering the speed how fast information is spread these days, it is indeed very tricky to find the right balance between raising interest – hence finding a potential buyer base – and giving away information only ‘on a need to know basis’ to avoid opening opportunities to those, who are only interested in taking shortcuts. Áron Losonczi took the fast track on a bumpy road and he mastered it excellently – we will surely hear from him again shortly, as he has just started to exploit his potential.
Source of images: courtesy of LiTraCon.