3D Printing Technologies // Lighting Industry
3D printing or additive manufacturing (AM) is used to convert a 3D model available with us into a three dimensional object through additive processes in which successive layers of material or droplets are laid down under artificial intelligence. The material used for this purpose is called 3D printing material.
3D printers can use a wide range of materials, including plastics, resins, metals, ceramics and many more. Today, the most popular material is plastic, and most of the desktop style printers print objects using plastic. However, some of the higher-end printers are capable of printing using many different materials. Currently printers support over 100 different materials.
Metal 3D printing
Metal 3D printing is a costly method as the metal printers use laser methods to manufacture any objects. Hence, metal materials are limited to high-end lighting applications. Ceramics and others are affordable materials that are expected to have a high demand in future, for example to enhance fixture cooling. A range of other manufacturing materials can be used for 3D printing that includes nylon, glass-filled polyamide, epoxy resins, wax, and photopolymers.
Optics 3D Printing
3D printing of optical performance parts (optics and lenses), is a very niche technology in the additive manufacturing landscape. On the contrary to more common technologies where mainly accuracy of shape matters, the parts also relate to a given function in its total optomechanical assembly. In addition to shape accuracy and form-fitting, other factors like transmission values, refractive index, haze values come to play.
Due to the deep skills needed to design and manufacture optical parts and understand their performance, only a handful of companies around the globe are in control of the process. As far as we are aware, the Netherlands based Luximprint is the one and only firm offering the technology as a service.
3D Printing Technologies
When it comes to manufacture lighting products or components, there are various 3D printing technologies available to make it happen:
• Electronic Beam Melting (EBM)
• Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
• Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
• Sheet Lamination (SL)
• Stereolithography (SLA)
• Additive Optics Fabrication