At Photonics West last week, Edmund Optics demonstrated a variety of 3D printed optics as a result of a new working relationship with Dutch company Luxexcel Group. Winner of the SPIE 2015 Prism Award in the category of Additive Manufacturing, Luxexcel’s Printoptical technology will allow Edmund Optics to improve turnaround times and costs for custom optics, in particular for illumination applications.
Luxexcel is the world’s first 3D printing service for optically transparent and very-smooth products. The company uses a custom inkjet printer to print optical, UV-curable PMMA materials. The machines deposit micro drops of acrylic onto a substrate which is then hardened with UV light. The optical structure, specified in a CAD file, is achieved by jetting, flowing and merging the molten droplets before hardening.
The result is an additive, on-demand process for simple, affordable, scalable manufacturing of optical components, enabling optics testing with easy iterations and the possibility to customise according to the application, project, or particular product.
At Photonics West, Edmund Optics was comparing 3D printed lens arrays with traditional glass moulded parts for illumination applications. According to the company, the main benefits of using 3D printed parts is that the complexity of the optic design would have no impact on the production time or cost, allowing for a 2-3 week delivery time compared to around 10 weeks for glass parts.
‘Creating optics with Luxexcel’s patented Printoptical Technology is a great advancement in the manufacture of 3D printed optics and we are thrilled to bring these components to the photonics industry,’ said Samuel Sadoulet, president and COO of Edmund Optics. ‘I am excited that this cooperation will make it easy for designers to prototype, fine-tune, and ultimately perfect their designs, enabling the next generation of optically driven products.’
Print production for optics: A new 3D printing process for optics could have significant implications for how optics are designed, manufactured and used