To enable LED lighting engines to achieve their highly touted life-spans, their operating temperatures must be kept within chipmakers specifications. Thermal management must be fully engineered to either passively or actively cool the LED during operation. The most common heatsink material today is aluminum. Although copper offers much better conductive heat dissipation than aluminum, aluminum is substantially cheaper to work with and is easily recyclable.
Enter Today's High-Tech Ceramic Heat-sinks
Although not new technology(available for the last few years LED lighting products), advancements in high heat ceramic fabrication are allowing direct bonding of circuitry and light engines, to ceramic heat sinks.
Unlike copper or aluminum, ceramic is in abundant supply , has very low material/production cost and has a low environmental/carbon footprint print compared to aluminum production/smeltering.
Ceramics (and thermoplastic), do not conduct electricity and add an additional element of safety for consumers. Aluminum conducts electricity and can potentially create shock potential. Most common household lights are already available in the LED ceramic version from MR16 and GU 10, even a LED 60 W replacement bulb with a ceramic base (instead of aluminum) are becoming more common.
Slight Lifespan Reduction According to manufacturer specifications, ceramic products tend to have a working life span of around 35,000 hours compared to the 40k to 50,000 hours from a similar aluminum model. Still compared to 2000 hour lifespan of a standard incandescent/halogen light, 35,000 hours is still fairly remarkable.
While still using the best light engines available, utilizing ceramic substrate/heatsink technology, ceramic production techniques offer substantially lower-cost product. The Golden $10 mark is the estimated price in which consumers will warm to LED technology.