Apr. 12, 2015 | By Kira

If you’ve ever used a MacBook, you’re probably familiar with the Photo Booth app, which gives you a range of filter effects, allowing you to create amusing, scrunched-up, stretched-out, or completely distorted images of you and your friends. It may not be the most useful app, but it’s guaranteed fun. Now, imagine being able to apply those same ‘filters’ and distort your face in real life--endless fun, right? That’s the idea behind Smaller & Upside Down, a collection of 3D printed lenses with customized, optical designs.

San Francisco-based artists Robb Godshaw and Max Hawkins are the makers behind the project, which was exhibited at the first ever Market Street Prototyping Festival from April 9 to 11th. They wanted to show that it is possible to use rapid prototyping tools to create optical lenses, even if you’re not an expert.  “The world of optics and lens manufacturing has traditionally be closed off to non-experts. It doesn’t have to be that way,” said Godshaw. “Using protytping tools like 3D printers and CNC routers, making a lens is easier than you might think.”

Each lens produces its own unique ‘effect’ out of a total of eight options. These include oversized ‘kawaii’ eyes, ‘mouth eyes,’ ‘pinch,’ ‘stretch,’ and ‘big chin.’

For the prototype design process, the artists used Autodesk T-Splines to create the lens geometry, and then visualized the effects using Rhino’s ray-tracing renderer. The ray-tracing software was an important step, since it’s not always easy or possible to predict how the final product would end up distorting the image.

Once they had achieved their desired effects, the artists 3D printed half of the lenses using the Objet 3D printers available at Autodesk’s Pier 9 Workshop. Crucially, these lenses were printed with VeroClear resin to achieve the transparency that allows the optical effect to work. To demonstrate the versatility of different prototyping tools, the other half of the lenses were milled out of acrylic plastic on a 3-axis CNC router. After both the 3D printing and milling processes, all of the lenses were sanded to optical clarity.

Godshaw, an Artist in Residence at Autodesk’s Pier 9, taught himself everything he knows about optics through experimentation, and now wants to spread his knowledge to other non-experts. “I hope that by sharing what I’ve learned I can inspire others ot make their own optics,” he said

In that spirit, a detailed, step-by-step breakdown of their process is available on Instructables, and includes directions on how to design a lens using ray-tracing software, options for both 3D printing and using a CNC router, and ideas for customization.




Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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