An innovative use of 3D printers is to print optical lenses. Several companies offer materials suitable for automotive lenses, and even one uses 3D printers to make lenses for glasses. But lenses are not a common application for 3D printing yet.
On Valentine’s Day, 2018, at Times Square, Formlabs head of design Marcelo Coelho and design studio Aranda\Lasch will reveal an amazing 3D printed lens project–a 10-by-12-foot lens made of interlocking 3D printed clear bricks. The art piece is known as Window to the Heart, and is the winner of the 2018 Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition.
The designers chose to use a Fresnel style lens, which is made of concentric annular sections. The Fresnel design enables a large aperture and short focal length while keeping the mass and volume less than that of a conventional lens. This style diffuses light, capturing it, rather than focusing or projecting light as other lens do.
The entire lens is composed of 1,090 bricks grouped into 98 concentric rings. The rings flatten the large spherical curvature yet retain the optical effect. Each of the 1,090 pieces acts as an optical element. Each piece is made of Formlabs’ Clear Resin, a material with the resolution and clarity needed for the optical requirements.
Making the bricks required the use of 50 3D printers for two weeks. The lenses were printed on the Form Cell automated production system, which consists of Form 2 stereolithography 3D printers. After printing, the bricks needed only cleaning and post-curing.
The Window to the Heart lens exhibit will open in Times Square on Feb 1, 2018 and be on display throughout the month.