3D Printed Optics: The Digitization of Illumination Optics Fabrication
Dutch company Luximprint is leading the 3D Printed Optics Revolution for Illumination applications. It offers 'manufacturing-as-a-service' to the global Lighting Industry including rapid optics prototyping and small/start-up series.
3D Printed Optics?
Regular 3D printers can process many materials like ABS, plastics, metals, or ceramics. Some of these materials are even transparent, but the technique used to build products with these filaments keeps it from building functional optical parts with the liquid optical performance resins.
The shape of an end product can resemble a lens and serve well for inspirational purposes. After some post-processing, it might even look like an optic, but it will not have the right optical properties. Scattering (haze values) and surface roughness values need to be extremely low in order to make printed optics work.
Here's a small benchmark of clear plastics, ranging from the 'optically clear' Luximprint resin to 'hardly transparent' polyjetted filaments.
Important to mention is that the outside of the parts generally can be post-processed well (polished, coated), the inside however finally determines whether the optic shows the correct performance.
Smooth Surfaces - No Post-processing
The Luximprint process, on the contrary, enables processing of smooth optical surfaces straight from the printer. No seperate post-processing steps are needed, such as polishing or grinding them.
As far as we are aware, no other 3D printing process has been able to do this and Luximprint seems to be in a unique position here. Especially larger format and highly-facetted structures are interesting, as in 3D printing complexity is totally free!
At 3DPrinting.Lighting, we follow the developments around this technology with great interest and will keep you posted on future updates from Luximprint!
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