3D Printing of Optical Components – A New R&D Venture in the Cross Sea of Academia and Business

Academics and privately owned companies are often considered to represent two very opposing camps, where one fundamentally strives for internationally acknowledged publications and the other for straight-forward fattening of shareholders’ wallets. This, of course, is a gross simplification and not always the case, as, for example, demonstrated by the new partnership between the Institute of Photonics at the University of Eastern Finland and LUXeXceL – a Dutch company that offers 3D printing of optical components as their core business.

LUXeXceL (they really spell it like that) is a company with an R&D unit responsible for creating something called printoptical technology, which basically means 3D printing of optical components without the requirement for any post-processing. However, 3D printing optics to be used as, for example, DSLR objectives is not here just yet – the problem with photonics being that the end-quality of the 3D printed parts just isn’t on a par level at this point. The lack of quality in the 3D printed objects causes scattering of light, which ultimately means that quality is not good enough for such applications. However the aim of this new partnership is to address these issues.

Will this collaborative project between the two parties eventually solve this problem and make 3D printed optical components an everyday thing? The first phase of the project will last for a year and a half, so even an initial answer to that question or a potential timeframe are still quite far ahead in the future. The project leader, Professor Jyrki Saarinen, notes that other benefits will be apparent even before actual results from this combined academic & business venture:  “Although Finland hasn’t been a pioneer in 3D printing, this project will bring Finnish photonics 3D printing to a world-leading level.”

Source: University of Eastern Finland