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The 3D Printing Eleven (1): No Upfront Investments



Imagine you are a Senior Design Engineer in charge of your companies’ new product development. The marketing department just came up with the latest market trends and insights and shared their ideas for a new range of lighting products. They underlined the importance of a fast availability of the new products in order to stay ahead of the competition. Equally, there’s only limited time left to the next trade event, such as an impactful Light+Building or Lightfair International show, where the companies full (bi)annual catalogue collection will be presented to a global audience of lighting engineers, designers, specifiers and buyers.

Excellent Team Work

Thanks to the great work of the market intelligence team, accurate information on the latest technology advancements is available on demand. The engineers are doing a great job and succeeds in merging together freshly adapted tech novelties into a new luminaire. Finally, the selection and sourcing of relevant fixture components for completion of the bill of materials (BOM) turns out in successful team work.

There are, however, a few bottlenecks that need to be killed first, at least before starting the physical development process:

1) Initial Mold Investments

Before having a physical product in hand, investments in appropriate prototype and manufacturing tooling, e.g. for heat sinks and illumination optics, are needed. Prices for durable tooling vary from thousands to tens of thousands Euros, depending on what material and longevity you may choose. When informing the Financial Officer about the funds needed he gets crazy. Especially when you ensure him there’s some uncertainty about the exact outcome, and another investment round may be needed at a later stage. All those pain points need to be addressed against a high level of uncertainties. Will the final outcome be satisfactory to all of us? Is there a change that we need to restart the tool manufacturing process to get a properly matching part? Do we need to make any in-process changes? Software simulations are great, but every manufacturing process, unfortunately, has its tolerances. Time pressure is high with zero room for further delays.

With printed optics, the boss will be happy: cutting upfront investments will lead the way to increased profitability.
With 3D printing technologies, the boss will be happy: cutting upfront investments in tooling and inventory will lead the way to increased profitability.

2) Enhanced Buying Power

In order to get the most competitive prices, the purchase department is set to negotiate the best conditions. That will be a tough job since they intend to order a customized manufacturing tool. There’s almost zero room for negotiating, at least not without accepting any future commitments. In fact, getting good prices means large minimum order quantities, i.e. a waste of money and a huge stock since forecasts never work and products rapidly evolve.

3) Warehousing Solutions

The stock-keepers, on their turn, are unhappy when they got told that dozens of identical new products are about to arrive shortly. The warehouse was fully booked for a while already, and the new deliveries make the facility collapse. And no single complaint about maintaining the stock, stock positions and annual balance sheets at a correct level. That’s just their “part of the job”.

With printed optics, inventory is digital: no minimum order quantities are required.
With 3D printing technologies, inventory is digital: no minimum order quantities (and thus high stock levels and obsolete inventory write-offs) are required.

4) Supply Chain Optimization

The operating officers at the end were quite unhappy with all those new product flows. Transporting the goods requires a lot of planning work, handling and coordination before the different components arrived at the companies warehouse for further assembly. Instead of using existing parts readily from stock, new parts are sourced in order to meet the rapid changing market demand.

All Unhappy Workers

In addition to the formerly mentioned, some other frustrations may appear, and at the end, all are unhappy: the financial director lost his money, the warehouse keeper is not happy with the huge load of new products that arrived, the buyers at the purchase department feel pretty uncomfortable as if they did have had no room to negotiate the best possible deal.

It CAN be different, though…

When using 3D printing technologies, there is no need for investments in expensive and time consuming tooling anymore. At the same time, the limitations of tooling are gone since the full manufacturing process went digital, straight from a Computer Aided Design (CAD) file into a real end product. New design freedom and product design opportunities arise without tie and expenses needed, as before. The available engineering budget can be spent now on the real engineering work: find out what’s the best mix in terms of components, durability, mounting features, system efficacy, effective functionality and connectivity of the lighting fixture. It’s become now as easy to manufacture one single lighting module as to replicate it into hundreds of identical parts. All you need is just a 3D printer, a dozen of different materials, a skilled designer and a ‘smooth’ operator.

From ‘Standardization’ to ‘Customization’

Customization is a great thing. 21st Century lighting design sectors and architecture start to discover the ‘power’ and ‘design freedom’ they can unlock and start moving away from standard products towards real customized lighting products for their projects. It forces production badges moving down from hundreds of identical lighting modules into ‘tens of pieces’ to meet specific project requirements. Even specific items within the project or ‘mass customization’ is now possible, meaning that easily 1,000 parts may look exactly the same but slightly differ from each other.

3D printing brings the lighting industry attractive cost advantages that can be ignored no longer. Those companies that understand the added value for their business well and adopt this new manufacturing technology will benefit most in the years to come. They will be able to make the difference in the future of the lighting industry and will be true leaders in todays 3D printing revolution.

The New .MGX Catalogue: Informative and Inspiring



As a pioneers in 3D printed designs with more than 10 years of ground-breaking, award-winning collaborations with leading designers from around the world, .MGX has a great design collection of 3D printed objects available ready to bring a new dimension into the home. The new catalogue is just released and provides a comprehensive overview of various impressive designs as created by leading designers.

3DPrinting.Lighting_.MgX classicsChallenging Technology – Engaging Designers

We live in a society buzzing with technology, spending our days in a whirlwind of impressive images, new products, and an overwhelming number of information. Being inspired by this enervy, .MGX challenged some of the worlds’ top designers to use revolutionary 3D printing technologies to create some special, revolutionary products. The .MXG collection is the result of that challenge: a beautiful selection of lamps and design accessories that do much more than just light up a room or furnish a house. These are products that engage both the imagination and the senses. One of the best story tellers is, if it’s up to us, the “Fall of the Damned” Chandelier by Dutch architect Luc Merx. Apart from the imaginative power, it creates mood and brings magic to any setting while translating the story of a monumental religious painting: a jumble of the bodies of the damned, hurled into abyss by archangel Michael and accompanying angels.

3D Printing Methods

Manufactured by using a variety of different 3D printing technologies, the .MGX catalogue brings together the best of craftmanship in both a modern and traditional way. 3D technologies allow the production of complex shapes that would otherwise never be impossible to create. Each manufactured part is individually sketched, converted into a CAD file, created by laser beam and carefully finished by hand.

LUXeXceL The Movie: ‘Meet Optics John’



The life of John, a lighting fixture engineer isn’t easy. It’s though work for him to keep the companies product sellable. It’s rather frustrating that during the product development cycle, continuously better LED chips arrive on stage. So before John’s new fixture is ready, it already need an update. Therefore, it’s quite time consuming for his company to invest in expensive molds and volumes of molded parts.

Obsolescence is causing a huge waste, straining both environment as balance sheets. And Johns boss is not happy about that. In many cases, John is forced to use standard parts and lenses. So are his competitors. The result is that many fixtures look the same. And, there are no attractive options to customize the lighting for a project or application.

Traditional Optics Design: balancing between extraordinary (tooling) cost and long lead times
Traditional Optics Design: balancing between extraordinary (tooling) cost and long lead times

21st Century Optics

Luckily for John, now in the 21st Century according to The Economist, the Third Industrial Revolution has started. In the meantime, we’ve all heard about 3d printing, right? Well, John did. Basically, you have a material. It goes into a printer. This printer heats and melts the material, and deposits it in layers. This way, it can build what you tell it to build. On demand. So basically, now Johns computer can create cheap and flexible inventory.

3D printing - How it Works
3D printing – How it Works

3D printing – How it Works

There are a lot of different 3D printers. Some of them can print plastic, others can print metals, or even ceramics. But none of them can do what LUXeXceL can do! And this is where it get’s interesting for John! LUXeXceL offerst 3D printed optics. The developed a unique 3D printing process, using transparent optical material to making lenses and optical components. Like LED lenses, a magifying glass or even a pair of real functioning glasses. LUXeXceL’s process lets droplets flow into each other before they are cured, with UV light creating a 100% smooth and transparent product. And… there is no need to post-process the products by polishing, coloring or grinding them.

Use of Printed Optics

So what are these optics used for? Well, they can be found in a lot of products. The most common ones would be an average lamp, which has an optical component to direct the light. There are optics in your flashlight, in your reading light, in the train, in streetlights, refrigorators and even in the buttons of your coffee machine. John is happy, because now his lenses can be made digitally and super-fast. Without the need to buy him a minumum order value and volumes of thousands of components.

3D Printed Optics: Design - Print - Iterate - Print
3D Printed Optics: Design – Print – Iterate – Print

Digital – Super Fast – Flexible

With 3D printed optics, there are no minimum order quantities. If John only needs 50 pieces, he can simply order 50 pieces. This is saving him a lot of money and time. Now Johns process to develop and test the lens becomes easy. All he need is a CAD file of the design. This file is directly loaded in the printer. If he wants to change something, he can simply change his design and have it printed again. No expensive investments in molds or other tools are needed, again saving Johns’ company money. 3D printed optics now allows John to do his development easier, faster and better. He now even can help customers with designing fixtures with easy interchangeable lenses, so that for every lighting project can provide a perfect light distribution with ease. Don’t waste your time, money and our environment, have your optics 3D printed today!

‘Meet Optics John

Now, please take a minute to listen to the story of Optical Designer ‘John’ and how printed optics changed his life. He and his colleagues are doing a great job on digitizing the optics manufacturing.

More about ‘John’ and the Future of Printed optics at LUXeXceL’s website. The Future of Optics starts today!


Related Stories:

The LUXeXceL Story – as told by LUXeXceL CEO Richard van de Vrie
3D printing of Illumination Optics – Optical quality surfaces – no post-processing
3D printed (LED) Optics by LUXeXceL – Optics directly from the printer with only one step from CAD to optic
LUXeXceL The Movie – 3D Printed Optics: a Day from the Life of ‘John’


3D Printing Light: a virtual 3D Printing Reality



When it comes to 3D printing on FDM based 3D printers, there are plenty materials and colors to choose from today. One ingenious man, named Ekaggrat Singh Kalsi, however, decided to use this process to try something entirely out of the ordinary: try 3D printing with light as a filament.

As you may know, most 3D printers use print technologies where they print ‘layer wise’, converting a CAD file directly into a solid object. The parts come off the printer as full 3-dimensional items. Ekarggrat decided to implement an entirely new concept within the print process. He wonder what would happen if instead of using traditional filament, he used LED lights, thus he set out on a mission to find out.

Building the object layer-by-layer until the print is complete
Building the object layer-by-layer until the print is complete

A Virtual Printing Reality

Of course you may understand that tangible objects couldn’t be printed in light, as we all know that light is intangible. However, utilizing a camera enables the visualization of a complete 3D printed object, built entirely out of light. He then took his camera, set it to the ‘BULB’ mode, and took a photograph using a very long exposure value. This was while the 3D printer moved using the LED light on the path he defined in the gcode. The extruder on the printer was turned off, so that it didn’t actually print with traditional filament.

The printer moving around, shining its LED light attached to the print head
The printer moving around, shining its LED light attached to the print head

Painting with Light

This is a twist to an age old technique called ‘light painting’. The results? They were quite incredible. You can see each layer that the 3D printer moved around, shining its LED light, that was attached to the print head, as it went layer-by-layer until the print was complete. Of course, there is no end product other than these fascinating photos that were taken.

The entire project took Ekaggrat only two days to complete, and he isn’t stopping here. If we understood it correctly, he plans on implementing a RGB LED to add some more color to his modern ‘light painting’ technology.

We’re curious what’s next, and will definitely update on what’s coming!


Related articles:

3Dprint.comSliced Light: 3D Printing by Replacing Filament with Light


3D Printed Hue Luminaires: Unleashing the Beauty of Light



Fusing the worlds of Light, Art and Technology, 3D printed luminaires allow limitless light effects, bringing a piece of art into the living room. Adding colorful and sustainable light sources as, for example, the innovative Philips Hue Wireless Controlled Light System, delivers a great lighting experience for any home.

3D Printed Hue Luminaires

With Hue, a simple finger swipe on your smartphone or tablet lets you create infinite personal light effects from a palette of over 16 million colors, shades of white and programmable light scenes. You can turn your 3D printed luminaires into stunning features such as illuminating the luminaires to tune in with the setting sun, by connecting it to automated internet services.

3DP.Lighting_3D printed Philips Luminaires with Hue (6)

A revolution in Lighting Design

3D printing provides more freedom, control and even personalization when designing great lighting products. There are fewer boundaries for creativity with as there are unlimited options to generate any mood or lighting effect. Combined, it is possible to create the most advanced, digital technologies for a functional, emotional and unique light object. The expression of colors as produced by Hue adds an surprising element that’s magical and mysterious, creating a sense of wonder.

3DP.Lighting_3D printed Philips Luminaires with Hue (5)

Fully compatible with Philips Hue

3D printed table and pendant luminaires, from for example Philips, Shapeways and i.Materialise, are fully compatible with the expanding Philips Hue lighting eco-system of bulbs, lamps, apps and switches. Philips even developed a special range of 3D printed fixtures that were especially designed for use with Hue. They were co-created with some globally-renowned design teams and displayed at the Light + Building Show in Frankfurt recently.

3DP.Lighting_3D printed Philips Luminaires with Hue (2)There’s more to discover on the various Philips Hue Lighting System components at the “Product Inspiration” corner of the connected website Inspiration.Lighting.

ZooM Lampshade: ZooM in – ZooM Out



Created as a programmable object in generative design software, ‘ZooM’ has a structure created from hundreds of repeating elements that together form a series of interlocking spirals.

ZooM Lampshade - 3D printed in blue and white material.
ZooM Lampshade – 3D printed in blue and white raw material.

3D printing allows this pentagonal lampshade to be manufactured flat and completely assembled; folded out, it’s flexible like a textile, while maintaining its form like a rigid product. The semi-transparent structure shields the bulb’s glare, while transmitting light efficiently.

Seeing the product unfold from a flat disc to a full sized lampshade never ceases to amaze.
Just a simple cord and bulb socket are needed to create a functional, architectural lamp.

Seeing the product unfold from a flat disc to a full sized lampshade never ceases to amaze. From there, all that is needed is a simple cord and bulb socket to create a functional, architectural lamp.

3DPrinting.Lighting_ZooM Lampshade by Michiel Cornelissen
Seeing the product unfold from a flat disc to a full sized lampshade never ceases to amaze.

More impressions of ‘ZooM Lampshade’ and purchase information is available in the ‘Product Inpiration Corner‘ of Lighting-Inspiration.com or directly at the website of Michiel Cornelissen.

3D printed sculpture lamp “Forms in Nature”



Hilden & Diaz Artists are finding interesting ways to use 3D printers, like Forms in Nature, a light sculpture that casts fantastic shadows of gnarly trees on the walls of the room in which it hangs.

3DPrinting.Lighting - Forms-in-Nature_1
The 3D printed light sculpture casts fantastic shadows of gnarly trees on the walls when it hangs.


The light sculpture Forms in Nature is partly inspired by Ernst Haeckel’s (1834-1919) detailed plots from nature and is a further development of Hilden & Diaz’ fascination with mirrorings, as they have previously applied in other artworks. Using a simple action, such as intensifying the brightness at the center of the artwork, the light transforms the space and adds character, as the work throws oversized shadows onto walls and ceilings in the space in which it hangs.

3DPrinting.Lighting - Forms-in-Nature_2
Through mirroring and intensified brightness at the center of the artwork oversized shadows are thrown onto walls and ceilings in the space


Forms in Nature Artwork

Forms in Nature is an artwork with a light source surrounded by a dense and unruly tree and root system created in minature sculpture. The forest is mirrored around it’s horizontal central axis and forms a circle 360 degrees around the light source and thereby leads one onto the notion of a real world versus an underworld.

Interestingly, the roots are those elements of the forest that are the most visible

The sculpture is not only mirrored, but also turned upside down in Hilden & Diaz’ artwork. As the intensity of the light source increases, the room changes and the space slowly becomes more and more fascinating and unheimlich.

The shadows engulfs the room and transforms the walls into unruly shadows of branches, bushes and gnarled trees.


Mirrorings are thrown out upon the walls and ceilings and provide weak Rorschach-like hints of faces, life and flow of consciousness. Diming the lights transforms the installation and one senses a weak fire burning deep in the center of the forest.

Great Lighting Inspiration, with many thanks for this increadible artwork to Hilden & Diaz Artists.


“Fall of the Damned Chandelier” by MGX.Materialise



It’s been a while since the initial launch in 2007, however the magic “Fall of the Damned Chandelier” designed by Dutch architect Luc Merx and printed by MGX.Materialise is still intriguing and very impressive. Consisting of a cluster of writhing human bodies and based on the notion of the fall of the damned, the lamp is made of white selective laser sintered polyamide.

3DPrinting.Lighting_Fall-of-the-Damned-Chandelier_Side_Top view
Fall of the Damned Chandelier : a 3D printed masterpiece about guilt and morality.

Seamless Masterpiece as One Part

The Damned.MGX chandelier was produced using additive layered fabrication as one piece, without joints or seams, and would be impossible to produce using other manufacturing methods. It appears as a hovering mass of writhing nudes – opulent and bombastic – and recalls the classical motif of the fall of the damned, challenging viewers with age-old questions of guilt and morality.


Unlimited Design Freedom

The lamp is a masterpiece of virtuosity, similar to that of 18th-century ivory furniture, but the difference is that this is not the result of our virtuosity, but that of a computer. The new questions about the possibilities of forms posed by this originate in a new understanding of technology. Technology no longer generates the forces, which determine the design of goods, but it enables an incredible range of possibilities and thus creates a new freedom of form.

3DPrinting.Lighting_Fall-of-the-Damned-Chandelier_original art_Comparison
Fall-of-the-Damned-Chandelier: 21st Century Masterpiece compared to the original 18th Century Painting.

Difference in Design Approach

The answer to this new freedom is not the voluntary self-restriction usually applied in modern design. Instead it’s the roam to work freely in the myriads of possibilities given to us. When considering design in this way, the design reflects the situation of the designer himself!


3D Printed LED Optics by Luximprint



Luximprint, a Dutch company having it’s head quarters and Creative Factories in Wemeldinge, Netherlands, offers services for Optics Design and Additive Manufacturing of Inspirational, Functional and Decorative Optical Plastics. The process 3D prints optical structures and elements using modified wide format industrial inkjet equipment.

LUXeXceL - One Step CAD-to-Optic
3D Printed LED Optics – In only one step from a digital CAD to an functional optics end product.

Droplets on Demand

Transparent droplets of a curable acryllic resin are jetted and then cured by strong UV-lamps which are integrated onto the print head. The results of the printoptical process are geometric or freeform shapes that may include transparent prisms or lenses, as well as full color 3D graphics and textures, all in a single print job.

Picture of Luximprint optical textures


Optical surfaces – no post-processing

The results of the process are geometric or freeform shapes that may include transparent prisms or lenses, as well as full color 3D graphics and textures. Optical quality surfaces are achieved with no post processing. Processing 3D printed optical plastics avoids complicated and costly conventional processes, gets rid of obsolete stock and shortens the time to market significantly.

Picture of 3D printed lens array by Luximprint
Functional 3D printed plastics – A printed lens array by Luximprint

More about the inventive Luximprint technologies and fabrication processes, the key to 3D printed LED optics is available at the companies website. If you’d like to further dive into the world of additive manufacturing, please also refer to a more extensive article on 3D printing of complete lighting fixtures elsewhere on this website.