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Designed by Ammunition Fabricated by Gantri: Beautiful Sustainable Designer Lights

Header image for blogpost on 3DPrinting.Lighting for new Ammunition collection at Gantri

Designed by Ammunition and made possible by Gantri’s radical approach to manufacturing, three new collections of lighting are now available for people seeking a better approach to design, craft and sustainability as they shape and illuminate their spaces. Named ‘Carve’, ‘Gio’ and ‘Signal’, the three collections are inspired by Gantri’s 3D printing platform and the intricate, organic and unexpected possibilities it provides compared to conventional manufacturing.

The Collection: Designed by Ammunition – Fabricated by Gantri

Sustainably produced using a corn-based material and manufactured in California, each light is 3D printed on-demand, hand-assembled and finished, in a process that feels less like industry and more like artistry.

Featuring table, floor and wall-mounted lights, the lighting range includes next collections:

1. Signal Collection

The Signal collection features louvered slats that are fused to the main body of each light through 3D printing technologies. The slats were inspired by the functional aspects of exterior architectural louvers used to bring light and air inside.

2. Carve Collection

The Carve Collection’s monolithic forms and seamless surfaces feel carved from stone rather than assembled like conventionally manufactured objects.

3. Gio Collection

The Gio Collection is inspired by Italian Lighting Designs of the 1970’s that sought to remake and refresh historic archetypes through new materials and processes. The unique character of the lights came to life by manipulating and rationalizing classical geometric elements so they interact with each other in playful ways.

Ammunition and Gantri Designer Toolkit

In addition to bringing floor and wall lighting into the Gantri platform, Ammunition also worked together to create an improved process and toolkit that makes it easier for any designer to make use Gantri. This major update offers designers the freedom and flexibility to create while maintaining Gantri’s high standards for materials, additive manufacturing, packaging, pricing, shipping, and user experience.

Availability Ammunition 3D Printed Lights:

The collections are available for purchase via Gantri’s online marketplace.

XTPL and OSRAM: A Cooperation for Creation of Conductive Connections

Image for blogpost at 3DPrinting.Lighting on Osram Partnership with XTPL

Germany based lighting manufacturer OSRAM approached XTPL, a technology provider of ultra-precise printing based in Wrocław, Poland for a cooperation in the field of additively fabricating conductive connections. OSRAM is looking for effective technological solutions to address the challenges connected with the manufacture of future generations of lighting elements, and it is the XTPL printing technology that might provide a answer to their needs.

XTPL and OSRAM Cooperation

OSRAM has decided to cooperate with XTPL to evaluate the technology for creating specific conductive connections. XTPL is a company developing globally innovative, additive manufacturing technology that enables ultra-precise printing of nanomaterials with a precision of 1-8 micrometers.

The additive XTPL method ensures significant time and material savings and allows the advantages of print to be used in the production of advanced devices thanks to unprecedented precision. Image courtesy of XTPL.

Additive Manufacturing Technology for Various Applications

The unique XTPL printing system allows for precise deposition of an in-house formulated nano ink on a variety of substrates to obtain conductive and nonconductive submicron structures. The potential industrial application of the XTPL method in the lighting industry is proof of its platform character which allows it to be used in a number of fast-growing high technology industries.

The purpose of the agreement signed by both partners is to confirm the parameters of the technology developed and commercialized by XTPL and to assess the possibility of implementing it in OSRAM’s production processes.

OSRAM and its Track Record in the Lighting Industry

OSRAM is a global player in the lighting industry. Together with GE Lighting and Signify, it is one of the three largest manufacturers of lighting equipment in the world. The enterprise also develops and manufactures optoelectronic materials. OSRAM operates as part of a corporate group which in the financial year 2018/2019 generated revenue of nearly EUR 3.5 billion. The group has a highly developed research and development arm with almost 18,000 patents and patent applications in its portfolio. In 2019, OSRAM allocated more than 11% of its annual revenue to R&D activities.

Solutions for Displays and Smart Glass Industries

A solution similar to the one sought by our partner has been partly developed by XTPL during work on a technology dedicated to repairing open defects in displays and the smart glass industry. As a result, XTPL can start cooperation with OSRAM at the proof of concept stage, without first going through a several months-long research project related to the opening of new application fields. For many years, the lighting industry has been looking towards increased use of light-emitting semiconductor materials that convert electrical energy into light energy. They are used in LED lighting and OLED.

The Global Lighting Industry

The size of the global LED lighting market in 2019 is estimated at almost $70 billion, and is expected to be driven towards $100 billion by 2023, which means a rapid growth of 9% (CAGR 2019-2023). This makes it a very interesting and promising sector for the Polish company.

At 3DPrinting.Lighting, we’re following these interesting cross-market partnerships with great interest and will report upon further developments once they appear.

Plumen 3D Printed Lamp Shades: Recycled, Recyclable and Biodegradable

Header image used in blog about Plumen 3DP biodegradable fixtures at 3DPrinting.lighting

In its latest designer collaboration with Batch.works, UK start-up Plumen pushed the boundaries of sustainable design to bring a range of 3D printed lamp shades to the market. The shades are made by using recycled plastic filaments from water bottles, fridges and other sources of plastic pollution. Here are some further introductions to the stunning decorative lighting collection of Plumen 3D Printed Lamp Shades.

Collaboration with Batch.works

Batch.works was established back in 2016 by former architect Julien Vaissieres. The aim of his newly invented company has been to create affordable and eco-friendly products, making the most out of 3D printing, most notably its speed and efficiency. Recently, Batch.works cooperated with five different design studios to create the Plumen 3D Printed Lamp Shades collection. The collection was inspired by everything from the Bauhaus movement to geometric forms of the Art Deco era.

Here are some of the highlights of the Plumen 3D Printed Lamp Shades Collection:

Image of the Ribbon 3D printed fixture by Plumen for use in the blog on biogradable designs by 3DPrinting.Lighting.
‘Ribbon’ by BOLD features a fluid surface that bends over itself. Image courtesy of Plumen.

Ribbon by BOLD

‘Ribbon’ features a fluid surface that bends over itself. The space created within the shade is filled with light, revealing and emphasizing the different volumes created by the enveloping surface. The vertical lines that run through the shade, combined with the horizontal layers characteristic of the 3D printing technologies used, amplify the idea that a piece of textile has solidified around the light to direct and enhance it.

NEO by Matthias Lauche

One other pendant fixture in the 3D printed range, named ‘Neo’, is based on geometric forms of the Art Deco era. Its designer, Matthias Lauche, has been taking familiar, historic shapes and cast them in a new role using 3D printing. Two shades stack on top of one another to fit and frame Willow’s delicate silhouette. The dual nature of the shade means several color combinations are possible.

Image showing 3D printed fixtures by Plumen inspired by Art Deco for use in the 3DPrintnig.Lighting Blog.
Image of applied 3D printed Plumen  NEO pendants for use in 3DPrinting.Lighting blog.
The first designs from the NEO collection are available with more to follow. The shades come in black or white, with custom colors available on request. Images courtesy of Plumen.

HIVE by Luke Deering

Following his earlier successes, designer Luke Deering was asked by Plumen to create another bespoke shade for the bulbs collection. The result was a biomorphic, recycled 3D printed shade called ‘Hive’.

Image of HIVE by Plumen as illustration used in the 3DP.Lighting blog on Plumen and biogradability.
‘Hive’ is an elegant biomorphic design drawing on the natural grace of the honeycomb structure. Image courtesy of Plumen.

Housed within the tessellating hexagonal design, the fluid shape resembles the flight path of an assiduous bee conducting its admirable work, or the softer curves and calmer light of the other version.

Image of 3D printed Plumen  pendants as a color twist.
The colorful HIVE shades work to frame the bulbs, allowing their beauty to shine through, while also taming the glare of their naked light. Together, they become a unified and natural objet d’art. Images courtesy of Plumen.

Biodegradable materials: Recycled and Recyclable

The new Batch.works lampshades are all made with a filament supplied by Amsterdam’s social enterprise Reflow, which recycles and repurposes plastics that would otherwise be sent to landfill or incinerated. They’re also 3D printed to order at Batch.works, significantly lowering the amount of produced waste.

Closing the life cycle of the design, when you’re finished with them, they can be recycled with the rest of your domestic plastics, ready to be reinvented once more.

We’re delighted to see inventive start-up companies like Plumen breaking a lance for biodegradable lighting solutions. So Signify did with launching its recent services for tailormade 3D printed luminaires using recycled CD’s to create distinctive light shades for its users to demand.

We’ll keep following the Plumen team with great interest, keep our eyes open and inform you about further releases in 2020…

LRC Partners with Eaton Corporation to Research Additive Fabrication of Integrated Luminaires

Header image for blogpost on cooperation of LRC and Eaton at 3DPrinting.Lighting

The Rensselaer Lighting Research Center (LRC) has partnered with Eaton Corporation on a research project to develop a complete, additively manufactured, integrated LED-luminaire. Under funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE), the project will address the main barriers to widespread adoption of additive manufacturing technology (also known as 3D printing) as applied to solid-state lighting solutions. 

3D Printing a Fully Integrated Luminaire

Over the next two years, the project partners will conduct material science, electronics, printed optics, and advanced manufacturing research to investigate the transformational potential of a fully additively manufactured, LED integrated luminaire, with a focus on reducing the cost of the luminaire’s dominant subsystems.

Components of a solid-state lighting luminaire will be fabricated using additive manufacturing methods, including mechanical and thermal management structures, electrical and electronic structures (on three-dimensional representative substrates), and optical and light reflective surfaces

SSL R&D Funding Opportunity Program

The project, led by Eaton, was competitively selected through the DOE’s Solid State Lighting R&D Funding Opportunity program, and draws upon the LRC’s growing expertise in the field of 3D printed lighting research. 

For more information about the LRC’s 3D printing research, please visit https://www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/solidstate/3DPrinting.asp

Fire Farm 3DP Collection: The Third Dimension in Decorative Lighting

Header image for blogpost at 3DPrinting.Lighting blog for Fire Farm article on its 3DP collection

Fire Farm, an innovator in decorative lighting, recently launched an entirely new 3D printed lighting collection at Boutique Design New York. The 2019 ‘Fire Farm 3DP Collection’ builds from explorations in 3D printing technology showcased in Adam Jackson Pollock’s commissioned light-sculpture installation, Spark, for American Family Insurance.

Exciting Debut Fire Farm 3DP Collection at BDNY

Blinded by science, the mad Fire Farm scientists unveiled the amazing new 3D printed chandeliers at BDNY. Boutique Design New York connects the most inventive manufacturers and the most influential design minds in the hospitality industry. The Fire Farm team experienced two days of incredible excitement around the groundbreaking silky crystalline fixtures created entirely using inventive 3D printing technologies.

A celebration of Innovation: the FireFarm team getting their 3DPrint chandelier launch-ready for rep and customer review and inspection at the BDNY tradeshow. Images credits: Fire Farm.

A New Dimension to Innovative Lighting

Working with a crystal-clear recyclable resin that has a higher light transmission than glass and none of the fragility, these new designs are dynamic lightweight solutions with incredible detail and texture. The material and production process imbues these shades with an emissive light quality that is unique and unachievable from any other traditional fabrication process.

Working with a crystal-clear recyclable resin that has a higher light transmission than glass and none of the fragility, the new Fire Farm designs are dynamic lightweight solutions with incredible detail and texture. Images courtesy of Fire Farm.

The shapes in this collection range from smooth and organic to faceted and crystalline demonstrating the broad range of expression now possible. The fixtures range in scale from small mini pendants up to tall pod-shaped pendants.

Fire Farm Expandolier: Innovation at Great Heights

Fire Farm has taken this innovation to greater heights in the Expandolier family of chandelier pendants. These ultra-tall pendant fixtures are perfect for bringing drama to vertical spaces. Offering simple geometric profiles that include circular, ovoid, square and triangular shapes, they can be mixed and matched to create larger compositions. The pendants are designed as articulated and tapered segments; both upward and downward tapered pendant options are available to create even more diversity when suspended together from a central canopy. The 3D printed pendants are also ultralight.

Fire Farm has taken this innovation to greater heights in the Expandolier family of chandelier pendants. Images courtesy of Fire Farm.

Fire Farm’s 3DP Collection is powered by standard E26, Edison-style base bulbs ready to accept dimmable LED lighting solutions, easy on energy consumption, cost and future compatibility. The 3DP Collection is a smart, beautiful, diverse, durable, easy to install and maintain, a lightweight and shipping-friendly solution to project lighting needs.

We at 3DPrinting.Lighting will keep following this interesting Iowa based lighting firm closely. The entire Fire Farm 3DP Collection can be discovered at the Fire Farm website.

SU University Researchers Develop Projection Lens Oscillation Process for 3D Printing Microlens Arrays

Image of 3D printed optical lens array by Luximprint used as header image for blog post on DLP 3D Printing lens arrays

Recently, researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design and Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, announced a breakthrough in the digital fabrication of microlens arrays using oscillation-assisted Digital Light Processing (DLP) 3D printing method.

To date, producing microlens arrays has proven to be difficult, according to the researchers. The current manufacturing technologies are time- consuming, have high process complexity, have a lack of fabrication flexibility, and face difficulty in consistency control.

Now, using a novel process of projection lens oscillation, the research teams have been successfully testing an approach for producing microlens arrays with proper surface smoothness using DLP 3D printing. 

Micro Lens Arrays – A gentle Introduction

A microlens array (brief: MLA) consists of multiple micron-sized lenses with optical surface smoothness. An MLA has a supporting substrate with often individual lenses of about 10 micrometers on it. It is formed in a one-dimensional or two-dimensional direction. Today, MLA’s have become an important micro-optics device used in various compact imaging, sensing, and optical communication applications.

With the exception of Netherlands based Luximprint, a global leader in Additive Optics Fabrication, most traditional 3D printing methodologies have been unsuccessful in fabricating any optical component thus far, due to the presence of coarse surface roughness in 3D printed objects.

Projection Lens Oscillation

In this new approach, the computationally designed grayscale patterns are employed to realize microlens profiles upon one single UV exposure which removes the staircase effect existing in the traditional layer-by-layer 3D printing method, and the projection lens oscillation is applied to further eliminate the jagged surface formed due to the gaps between discrete pixels.

Optically smooth microlens array is fabricated by an oscillation assisted 3D printing method. Image via SUTD.
An optically smooth microlens array fabricated by a Projection Lens Oscillation process.
Image courtesy of SUTD.

Digital Light Processing for Details

DLP 3D printing is a process that uses a digital projector to cure photopolymer resin and produce 3D printed parts. It is often used for highly detailed 3D printing, and is considered a faster method than Stereolithography, a similar 3D printing process. Although DLP 3D printing offers great flexibility in the fabrication of microlens arrays with different sizes, geometries, and profiles, it has been unable to produce parts with optically smooth surfaces. 

Oscillation DLP Printing: Ultrafast & Flexible Fabrication Method

To overcome this, the SUTD and SUSTech researchers suggested integrating DLP 3D printing with mechanical oscillation and grayscale UV exposure. Oscillation helps to remove the jagged surface formed by discrete pixels in a 3D printed part, whereas the grayscale UV exposure removes the staircase effect common to 3D printing, where layer marks are visible. The result is an ultrafast and flexible fabrication method for microlens arrays with optical surface smoothness. 

3D Printing Smooth Microlenses

Although the research team has specifically adapted DLP for producing microlens arrays, various other 3D printing technologies are already suited towards its production. 

A microlens array 3D printed on a Quantum X machine. Image via Nanoscribe.
A microlens array 3D printed on a Quantum X machine. Image courtesy of Nanoscribe.

For example, Germany-based Nanoscribe manufactures two-photon additive manufacturing systems that are capable of producing microlens arrays.

Also, for larger types of lens arrays, Dutch service provider for printed optics Luximprint offers optical quality lenses straight from the printer with zero need for post-processing.

Image or 3D printed microlenses by Luximprint
A gradient of 3D printed microlenses. Picture courtesy of Luximprint.

Economic Viability & Effectiveness

To prove the viability and effectiveness of the approach, the research team has conducted detailed morphology characterizations, including scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy. Results suggested that the integration of projection lens oscillation with DLP 3D printing reduces surface roughness from 200 nm to about 1 nm.

Wrapping it all up, we may fairly conclude that, although the new DLP 3D process is still under investigation and not commercially available yet, the initial results are promising, and we can’t wait to see the first 3D printing devices entering the market.

NOTE: The SUTD + SUSTech Study, Ultrafast Three-Dimensional Printing of Optically Smooth Microlens Arrays by Oscillation-Assisted Digital Light Processing, was initially published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Signify 3D Printing: Launch of Services for Tailor-made Luminaires in Professional and Consumer Applications

Image of a 3D printed decorative luminaire by Signify used as header for blogpost at 3DPrinting.Lighting

Signify, the world leader in lighting recently unveiled its facilities to 3D print light shades and luminaires in the Netherlands and plans to establish Signify 3D printing factories in the US, India and Indonesia. Over recent years, the company has perfected this highly flexible, more sustainable form of manufacturing, using a 100% recyclable polycarbonate material. It allows luminaires to be bespoke designed or tailored to customer’s exact needs and recycled at the end of their life, supporting a circular economy.

3D Printing for a Lower Carbon Footprint

Signify’s investment in 3D printing further illustrates the company’s commitment to better serving its customers while reducing their, and its own, carbon footprint. A typical manufactured luminaire (excl. electronics and optics) has a 47% lower carbon footprint than a conventionally manufactured metal luminaire. Nearly every component may be reused or recycled, supporting the concept of a circular economy.

“A typical manufactured luminaire has a 47% lower carbon footprint than a conventionally manufactured metal luminaire”.

Signify is the first lighting manufacturer to produce 3D printed luminaires on an industrial scale, reinforcing our position at the forefront of lighting and sustainable innovation. Printing luminaires provide a more flexible, fast and more environmentally friendly way to manufacture.

Fashion and food retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S) announced it is in the first phase of rolling out thousands of 3D printed luminaires across stores in the UK.

It is now possible to create new, or customize existing designs, that fulfill customer needs quickly without huge investments and long development cycles. Users can have their ideas brought to life in a matter of days rather than months and printing requires less energy.

Signify 3D Printing Facilities – Global Expansion

Signify already has a 3D printing facility at Maarheeze in the Netherlands. It aims to have up to 500 3D printers of different sizes with the ability to create luminaires up to 60 cm height and width. In January 2020, new Signify 3D printing facilities will be operational in Burlington, Massachusetts, US, serving both professional and consumer markets. Additional facilities in Noida, India and Jakarta, Indonesia will follow quickly after. LED lights will be integrated into the luminaires at all these sites.

Reduce carbon footprint and material waste – Signify’s contribution of its 3D printed
luminaires to its users sustainability goal. Infographic by Signify.

Lighting for a Circular Economy

3D printing has been around for a while, but these range of 3D printed luminaires are the first real retail lighting application that improves the sustainability of our stores and are extremely complementary to corporate sustainability strategies. The potential for the printed fittings is enormous, both from an energy and cost-efficiency perspective. They are printed on demand to fit perfectly without need for adjustment or cutting into our ceilings. Users can also return them to have them recycled and new designs printed, enabling us to be current and topical.

Albert Heijn, the Dutch supermarket chain, started using bespoke decorative pendants in its fresh food sections back in 2017.

Albert Heijn, the Dutch supermarket chain, started using bespoke decorative pendants to enhance the atmosphere in its fresh food sections in over 100 stores in the Netherlands in 2017. Luminaires were printed in the style of fruit. In the meantime, other designs were deployed in multiple stores, in sections such as frozen food and coffee areas. The supermarket is able to refresh the designs by simply returning the shades to Signify which shreds them and prints new designs.

Consumers can now online design, tailor and order decorative luminaires.

Online Tailor, Print and Deliver Fast Service for Consumers

Yesterday, Signify also announced the rollout across Europe of the world’s first online service to enable consumers to tailor decorative luminaires. Included in the range is a customizable Philips LED table lamp made from 24 recycled CDs.

In 2018, 79% of Signify’s sales comprised sustainable revenues. The company is committed to be carbon neutral in 2020 and was recently named Industry Leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the third year in a row.

Optographix by Luximprint to be launched at Trends in Lighting 2019 Bregenz

Header image for blogposta bout Luximprint Optographix launch at TIL 2019

Trends in Lighting, the international show for Architects, Lighting Designers, Planners and Investors, is running in parallel with the established LED professional Symposium and Expo in Bregenz, Austria, at the heart of the European Lighting Industry. Luximprint, Dutch service provider for additively fabricated custom optics, decided to use the event as a launching platform for one of its latest technology advancements: Optographix by Luximprint.

Optographix by Luximprint

In addition to its primary business of optically functional 3D printed optics, Luximprint offers now 3D printed optical graphics: Optographix. The novel solutions enable interior and lighting designers and anyone involved in branding and interior design the possibility to start working with the ‘medium of light’ in a different way.

‘Northern Lights’ is a stunning lighting installation by Dutch Creative Design Firm Luminous Concepts utilizing the power of 3D Printed Optics and Optographix. Image courtesy of Luminous Concepts.

Marco de Visser, Co-Founder of Luximprint explains: “Optographix offer the international design community new ways of engaging with light. By using novel 3D printing technologies, translucent media and optically clear or colored resins and combine them with day and artificial lighting, surfaces are brought to life and start to create compelling and stunning light effects“.

Trends in Lighting vs. LED professional Symposium

For Luximprint, both leading lighting events in Bregenz are of great relevance. This year, Luximprint will be presenting printed LED optics at the LED professional Symposium. An interactive lecture will teach an audience of industry professionals how ‘Additive Optics Design and Fabrication Pave the Path to Novel System Design and Lighting Applications’. Seen from a purely functional perspective, the messaging is most relevant to engineers and designers of functional lighting systems.

The TiL 2019 program, at the other hand, explores a new horizon for lighting. The show has, for the third year in a row, created an outstanding event program, dedicated to bridging the gap between architecture, application, design and technologies.

‘Butterfly’ by Luminous Concepts is an interactive lighting installation in progress utilizing Luximprint Optographix Technology. Image courtesy of Luminous Concepts.

Optographix, which are considered as a ‘first-class lighting novelty’ are basically produced with the same printing process as printed optics. The optical translucency of the structures, critical for creating optically functional textures and typography, is created by applying the same optical resin formula in the printing and combining it with unique graphical 3D design methods. It is a perfect fit with the TIL 2019 visitor profile.

De Visser continues: “Optographix are a great new tool for brand enhancement and artistry, as they open up doors to applications and design spaces that were not accessible before”. When considering light as a medium rather than a static light source, suddenly, new ways of designing with light become within the reach”.

Lightly Technologies and Physionary

During the exhibition, Luximprint will be flanked by two more interesting lighting start-ups: Lighting Technologies, inventor of the revolutionary thin and powerful LED panels and Physionary, the Dutch design collective behind the groundbreaking Faceted Lens Technology.

Hikari SQ – Building Blocks for Lighting and Fixture Design

Lightly’s Hikari SQ LED panels at the one hand, go very well together with Luximprint Optographix. The powerful yet smooth light output are excellently suited as backlighting for Optographix. The fully controllable, ultra-thin and easy-to-integrate panels are a preferred choice by todays designer community.

Image of Lightly Hikari SQ display with embedded optographix. Image by Gavriilux.
Luximprint 3D Printed Optographix embedded in a display of Lightly Technologies.
Image by Gavriilux – www.gavriilux.com

Faceted Lenses: Light Where Needed

Physionary Design Software, on the other hand, is of great interest when it’s been used in the combination with Luximprint Additive Optics Fabrication technology. Where optical 3D printing breaks down the barriers in traditional lens manufacture, such as long lead times, tooling and inventory, Physionary software does so for the optics design part of the process.
The combination of both novel technologies is extremely powerful as it is now possible to create custom optics for any particular project case in a matter of days.

The Fresnel Sunflower Optic is an example of Faceted Lens Specialty designed by Physionary and printed by Luximprint. Image courtesy of Luximprint.

We will be following the further path of those interesting lighting start-ups with great interest, and keep you posted in case of new breakthroughs!

The powerful decorative and functional ‘start-up collective’ can be visited from September 24th-26th, 2019 in the Bregenzer Festpielhaus at booth #S3 – #S5 and #S7.

3D Printed Heat Sinks Display Higher Efficiency

_Header image for blogpost about 3D printed heat sinks by 3DPrinting.lighting

Heat sinks are a crucial part of lighting devices, dispersing the temperatures of the LED chip produced during operation. Light fixtures would simply overheat without having them. Improving heat sinks can have major benefits, for example for the airflow and thermal heat dispatching. To this end, teams of university researchers and engineers from various equipment providers have applied novel 3D printing technologies to demonstrate novel designs that can give heat sinks better efficiency for lighting applications. It comes as no surprise, that 3D printing technology significantly contributes to the development of making better, lighter and smarter heat sinks.

3D Printed Heat Sinks for Lighting

For many manufacturers of lighting equipment, natural convection of air-flows remains the preferred method for cooling the electronic components of a given light fixture. This method is cheap, simple to maintain and produces no noise or electromagnetic interference.

Natural convection, however, is limited in its scope, with medium to high power outputs tending to overwhelm the simple cooling system. Advanced 3D printing technology opens up doors to designs that could help significantly improve the efficiency of cooling bodies.

Some examples of newly invented cooling bodies by Plunkett Associates.

Heat-sinks help to guarantee a long service life of a light fixture and prevent it from early failure. Made from high thermal conductivity material such as aluminum or copper, these essential parts conduct heat from the electronic component towards the extremes of their own large surface areas. When the heat reaches these extremes, it can be convected to the air flowing overhead.

3D Printed Heat sinks: Lighter – Smaller – Better

Recently, researchers in the US, along with other European counterparts, have shown that 3D printed heatsinks could be lighter, smaller or better than conventional heatsinks. This conclusion comes from two linked projects at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

One proves that 3D printed aluminum heat sinks can at least equal and sometimes supersede the thermal conductivity of standard heatsink aluminum. The second has developed genetic algorithms that make use of the freedom of shape available from 3D printing to design heatsinks that fit in the same space as their conventional cousins but work better.

3D printed heatsink. Image showing a false-colour rendering of a heatsink designed to cool a module dissipating 2kW. Image property of ORNL

3D Printing Heatsinks – Pros & Cons

Now, with 3D printing capable of making heatsinks just as good as existing heatsinks the same shape, we may ask ourselves what benefits are available using the arbitrary shapes possible with 3D printing, and how these arbitrary shapes might be designed? Here are some insights into the benefits and challenges of the manufacturing process, as well as some practical designer tips.

Like any technology, 3D printing of metals has its advantages and disadvantages. The trick is to know both when it is appropriate to use it and find the ideal applications for the process. For example, metal printing is a good option for creating complex parts that need to be strong and lightweight. The parts are also fully dense and can include precision internal features that cannot be created using traditional machining. Printing is additive, so it generates minimal waste.

Another benefit of 3D metal printing has to do with its reliability. Although it may take a few attempts to find the best parameters, design, and orientation for building a part, once discovered, the process is tremendously consistent. It will result in the same part every time, build after build. Although this may be assumed as a given for any manufacturing process, the predictability and efficiency of metal printing should never be overlooked.

The tradeoff to 3D metal printing’s benefits is that speed and cost cannot be driving factors for those who want to pursue this technology. This is why aerospace and automotive industries have been the most committed early adopters of the technology, rather than the more conventional and highly-cost oriented lighting industry. The lightweight, strong designs translate well to their applications.

Aluminum is an excellent thermal conductor, so it was used to 3D print these intricate, one-piece heat sinks for lighting applications.

Build times for 3D metal printing are longer compared to those for plastic 3D printing. It typically requires several builds to fine-tune a part’s design for mass production through 3D metal printing.

Before committing to designing parts for metal printing, designers should consider the material that is preferred for the part. Although there are a lot of materials people claim can be used for 3D printing, there is a very limited number of metals that can be printed on the market. It takes years of research and effort to develop the process parameters for specified materials in certain machines. This is a tricky aspect of the technology.

3D Printing Materials and Finishes

Some of the most common and reliable metals for 3D printing include stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, cobalt chrome and Inconel alloy. Choosing the best material is vital for ensuring parts will perform as needed.

Another design aspect to consider before going with choosing 3D metal printing is the desired surface finish. The surface finish of 3D printed part is poor due to it being built layer by layer. It takes post-machining on printed parts to get aesthetically pleasing surface finishes. This can be done using CNC machining or manual surface grinding, sanding, or polishing.

It may seem obvious, but size is another limed parameter. Parts cannot be larger than the machine’s build platform, which varies from printer to printer. Although there is no standard Build-platform size, the most common dimensions are around 250 × 250 × 300 mm, or smaller.

Heat sinks for LED light sources:

a) Industrial design solutions; b) Topology-optimized LED heat sinks for vertical, and horizontal orientations with 1/2 and 1/8 symmetries; c) 3D printed topology-optimized design with additional support; post-processed design with removed support; and simplified interpretation manufactured by traditional techniques. 

Source: Experimental validation of additively manufactured optimized shapes for passive cooling , Research Gate.

Designing parts for Metal Printing

Generally, there is a fair amount of trial and error that goes into perfecting a design. However, there are some common design pitfalls that can be avoided to streamline the process. It’s important for designers to have the process in mind when creating CAD models. Different 3D metal printers have different limitations due to the laser spot size and melt pool. Despite this, there are some general guidelines that should be followed when designing parts for metal printing:

Wall thicknesses
Walls that are too thin will begin to collapse under their own weight. Walls should be no thinner than 0.5 mm.

Hollows and Gaps
The limitations for gaps and holes may vary widely based on the printer being used, the metals being used, and part geometry. The general rule of thumb is to not design a gap or hole under 0.5 mm. Smaller gaps run the risk of the sides merging together and filling the empty space. On the other hand, supports need to be added for holes greater than 10mm.

0.5 mm is the maximum length that should be used for an overhang, and all downward facing structures need to be designed to a chamfer (more than a 45-deg. angle to the horizontal), with a concave or convex shape so the part can support itself. Support structures need to be included in the part’s design to exceed these guidelines.

Support Materials
Supports are needed for two reasons. The first is to hold parts to the substrate plate. The second is for heat dissipation. Any areas below 45 deg. from horizontal need support to be added. This applies to most of the metals.

Part orientation
Unlike other manufacturing processes, 3D printing creates parts with different mechanical properties in different build directions. In the X and Y directions, for example, parts have higher tensile strength than they do in the Z direction. Hence, part orientation needs to be considered prior to printing. This is especially true if parts are for mechanical/structural purposes where a certain area will sustain some degree of pressure and stress.

There is also an aesthetic element to part orientation. Downfacing surface areas of printed parts will have a poorer surface finish compared to the top-facing surfaces. If certain areas of a part need better surface finishes, it should be taken into consideration during part orientation. For complex parts, it is important that part orientation is such that if there are supports that may affect part function, they can be removed.

Image of various 3D printed heat sinks.
Heat sinks with highly complicated textures created by using 3D Metal Printing.

Trends in Metal Printing

In the near future, hybrid additive/subtractive machines will find their niche. It is not uncommon to find metal printing and CNC machining as part of a single production line. CNC machining may be needed to remove supports added to make a printed metal part. With a plastic printed object, supports can sometimes be manually removed simply by snapping them off. This is not the case with metal printing where removing supports takes a significant amount of time and effort. Once supports are removed, surface work (a time-consuming process) may be required as well. Combining these processes in one machine could be very beneficial.

3D Printed Heat Sinks – Future Outlook

Although 3D metal printing is not as easy as 3D plastic printing, the process of perfecting a design is worth it due to the higher engineering standard of the process. Although combined additive and subtractive machines will grow the market, traditional 3D metal printers will as well. There may seem to be a lot of limitations when it comes to metal printing, the industry fully expects the technology to go mainstream. It can be used to build parts that would be impossible by any other process due to complexity.

The key to metal printing’s growth and adoption will depend on widespread knowledge of designing parts for 3D printing. Some responsibility will fall on manufacturers to find avenues to share their knowledge with designers and one another.

The generally longer build times will begin to dissolve as new generations of metal printers come to market and the technology is perfected. Time will also lead to a wider range of metal powders to use for the process. Overall, 3D metal printing will likely prove to be the greatest development in low-volume manufacturing of metal parts over the next 50 years.


From what we at 3DPrinting.Lighting have read, heard and seen, we may conclude that the many optimization efforts to date result in significant material savings and design improvements of passive LED coolers. The possibility to account for several physical fields and their complex interaction, provides close to optimal utilization of the heat sink material and moves performance bounds close to the limit.

For such broadly applied and well-studied devices, reduction upto 20% in material utilization in unison with a 21-23% temperature decrease is still achievable, fully demonstrating the potential of 3D printed heat sinks. Optimized designs can be produced using 3D printing techniques or can be simplified further making them suitable for traditional manufacturing with only a small loss of performance. Higher computational efforts are required to account for additional physical effects and practical constraints.

The benefits in material savings and decreased temperature justify a certain cost increase in the design phase. Extensions to more complex multi-physical interactions including heat transfer in turbulent flows, magnetic refrigeration or cooling are still in their infancy, but cater for further future improvements in energy consumption of thermal and other systems!

This post was kindly inspired by Electronics Weekly, MachineDesign.com and the research study Optimized Shapes for passive cooling by researchers of the Universities of Denmark and Manchester.

Relio²: The Most Versatile Illuminator Ever!

Image of Relio² set-up for 3DPrinting.Lighting

Relio² is a state-of-the-art professional lighting solution, aiming at those who work with light and need a calibrated, modular light source that is extremely similar to Sunlight. The concept stands out trough its extreme color rendition and the smallest, most versatile form factor in the world. It’s a combination of perfect color balance, very high intensity and sharpness. The instrument is engineered to be the holy grail for film, photography, artisans, researchers and creative minds and renders colors just like Sunlight does.

Color Rendering like Sunlight does

The light of the Sun, always in your pocket. The light of the concept brings forth extreme color fidelity – up to 98% native TLCI. This makes Relio² truly unique in its kind. In addition, light quality is guaranteed by making full spectrometric data publicly available to download. The light normalisation LUTs enable Relio² to reach 100% virtual TLCI, what is unequalled in todays market.

The versatile Relio product offers a million uses, where color really matters. See how Relio² helps People, Companies, Museums and Academies in their color-critical projects.

Relio – 3D printable accessoiries: Beautiful, open-source, and free

To make the concept even more appealing, Relio is the first manufacturer to offer official, 3D-printable accessories for their Relio² Illuminator to download for free. They are anticipating a future trend: repurposing technology to make it more sustainable.

3D-printing allows in-house fabrication of already-engineered Relio² accessories.

Relio releases all its accessories under a Creative Commons CC-BY-4.0 license, to enable its users to build upon, improve, manufacture and even sell the items they have build with no limitations.

“The Best Accessories you can Buy: The Ones you don’t have to Pay for”.

The portfolio of system accessories is engineered to be easily printable by entry-level FDM® 3D printers. They’ll push the Relio² concept beyond the limits. Here are some of the User-submitted accessories that are available so far:

Challenge the Relio Team

It is very well possible that one will be using Relio² for something that the developers had not anticipated. The Relio team is eager to share the source-codes of the reference socket to enable new innovation. It’s a valid starting point to build compatible add-ons.

Feel free to engineer your own accessory! The Relio team would be delighted to add your accessory to their collection, along with your story… and glory!