Lambda Research, a designer of illumination and optical design software, has teamed up with Luxexcel in order to provide customised 3D printed plastic optics. The collaboration means that lenses and printed optics will be able to be produced within days, as opposed to months; allowing optical designers to test prototypes rapidly and more cost-effectively.
Lambda Research is the second optics company this year to form a working relationship with Luxexcel. In February, during the Photonics West trade fair in San Francisco, Edmund Optics was showing a range of 3D printed plastic optics produced as a result of a new collaboration with the company.
According to the Edmund Optics, the main benefit of using 3D printed parts is that the complexity of the optic design would have no impact on the production time or cost.
Based in The Netherlands, 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 a process for simple, affordable, scalable manufacturing of optical components, enabling optics testing with easy iterations and the possibility to customise according to the application.
Lambda’s illumination and optical design software, TracePro, allows optical designers to virtually prototype their designs by building textured surfaces to meet often demanding criteria. After design it is then a simple process to export the texture as a CAD file for Luxexcel to manufacture.
TracePro incorporates specific values of Luxexcel variables and materials, allowing designers to select Luxexcel materials, which in turn, enables the software to display the light output of a Luxexcel printed optic.
Demonstrating this integrated technology, the companies recently produced a commercially-viable lens array. Using the TracePro Texture optimiser utility, a lens array was designed to meet the criteria of diffusing light by using varying texture across the array as well as varying the depths of the features used in the design.
Optics designers who make use of TracePro software can modify their projects during the whole development process, meaning they can immediately check each prototype for optimal output. The Luxexcel 3D print service is also supportive of an iterative lighting design process.
‘LUXeXceL’s printing process and TracePro are complementary for optics designers in their quest to design the best solution for every project, not having to compromise with standard, less optimal, products,’ sais Richard van de Vrie, president and founder of Luxexcel.
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