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LUXeXceL and Lambda Research team up on 3D-printed optics

25 Mar 2015

TracePro software used to produce custom-textured lens arrays as emerging technology offers prospect of “mass customization”.

Following news last month that it was collaborating with Edmund Optics, Netherlands-based 3D-printed optics specialist LUXeXcel has now revealed details of what can be achieved in combination with Lambda Research’s TracePro design software.

According to LUXeXceL and Lambda Research, the combination of a fast and versatile manufacturing platform with adaptable design software will allow “mass customization” of plastic optical components such as textured lenses.

“[This provides] optical designers with full control over the light distribution, ensuring speed and reduction of project costs,” claimed LUXeXceL president and founder Richard van de Vrie.

“LUXeXceL’s printing process and TracePro are complementary for optics designers in their quest to design the best solution for every project,” he added, saying that they would no longer have to compromise by using standard products.

To demonstrate the combination, the two companies recently produced what they described as a “high-quality, commercially viable” lens array that diffuses light by varying textures across the array. It was designed using the TracePro Texture optimizer, and exported as a CAD file for LUXeXceL to print.

Because lenses and other components can be designed and printed within days, rather than taking months, the companies say that the process will be particularly useful for designers using an iterative approach to develop a series of prototypes.

“Printoptical” process
Michael Gauvin, VP of sales and marketing at Massachusetts-based Lambda, said: “TracePro software simulates the distribution of the light and the luminous intensity. This will give designers insight into how the light distribution of their printed product will look like.

“The function of our created lens array is to provide randomized uniform light output with light either propagating through the part or reflecting off the part. The texture applied to the part is specific to take a non-uniform propagating light output and create uniform light.

“This is achieved by varying the texture in such a way that strong light areas are reduced and weak light areas are supplanted by moving light from the strong light areas to the weaker ones.”

For LUXeXceL, the collaboration with Lambda Research follows an announcement last month that it was now working closely with Edmund Optics in a bid to bring its plastic printed optics technology to the wider photonics industry.

At Edmund’s Photonics West exhibition booth, the two companies hosted a demonstration to compare the performance of traditional molded glass lens arrays with plastic ones 3D-printed using LUXeXceL’s “Printoptical” technique.

LUXeXceL also won a Prism Award at the San Francisco event for its revolutionary approach to optics production, beating competition from rivals FEMTOprint and MultiPhoton Optics in the new additive manufacturing category.

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