Oct.3, 2012

Developed at the Disney Research labs, Printed Optics is a new approach of building functional and interactive objects using 3D printing.

Printed Optics enable sensing, display, and illumination elements to be directly embedded in the body of an interactive device. Using these elements, display surfaces, novel illumination techniques, custom optical sensors and robust embedded components can be digitally fabricated for rapid, high fidelity, customized interactive devices.

Printed Optics is part of our long term vision for the production of interactive devices that are 3D printed in their entirety. Future devices will be fabricated on demand with user-specific form and functionality. Printed Optics explores the possibilities for this vision afforded by today's 3D printing technology.

Using combination of UV cured resin and a special completely clear resin the team has created many applications, such as an LED embedded in a 3D printed lens to focus light, a 3D printed toy character that has an embedded heart shape made from a series of internal bubbles.

(3D printed light bulbs enable many exciting new form factors.)

(Complex light bulb shapes can be designed and used with energy efficient LED light sources.)

(Light pipes inside the bulbs can direct light and create internal patterns.)

Another featured example is chess pieces with embedded light pipes display content piped from an interactive tabletop. Contextual information, such as chess piece location and suggested moves, can be displayed on each individual piece. See the images below.

Below is a 3D printed mobile projector accessory with embedded light pipes. Projected imagery is mapped onto the character's eyes. The character responds to user interaction such as sound or physical movement.

As NOTCOT notes, "this project both interrupts the printing process to insert electronics, and also plays with the capabilities of the 3D printing itself to manipulate the way light behaves within the final print." With the continuing emergence and accessibility of 3D printing, 3D printed optical elements will be part of future interactive devices. Optical printing will enable an richer design space for sensing, display, and illumination.

(A mobile 3D display created by projecting on internal bubbles within a 3D printed model.)

(Interface elements such as buttons, dials, sliders, and accelerometers can be 3D printed. )

(A four-way button with sensors embedded inside the 3D print.)

(An LED embedded in a 3D printed lens to focus light.)

(A 3D printed prism is used to reflect light in four directions for a four-way button.)


The Printed Optics project is being developed at Disney Research Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University by Karl D.D. Willis, Eric Brockmeyer, Scott Hudson, and Ivan Poupyrev.

Read the research paper here.


Source / Images credit: Disney Research


Posted in: 3D Printing Technology



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