What's it about?
Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has become widely used in recent years for the creation of both prototype and end-use parts. Because the parts are created in a layer-by-layer manner, the flexibility of additive manufacturing is unparalleled and has opened the design space to enable features like undercuts and internal channels which cannot exist on traditional, subtractively manufactured parts. This flexibility can also be leveraged for optical applications. This paper outlines some of the current uses of 3D printing in the optical manufacturing process at Optimax.
Several materials and additive technologies are utilized, including polymer printing through fused deposition modeling, which creates parts by depositing a softened thermoplastic filament in a layerwise fashion. Stereolithography, which uses light to cure layers of a photopolymer resin, will also be discussed. These technologies are used to manufacture functional prototypes, fixtures, sealed housings, and other components. Additionally, metal printing through selective laser melting, which uses a laser to melt metal powder layers into a dense solid, will be discussed due to the potential to manufacture thermally stable opticalmechanical assembly frameworks and functional optics. Examples of several additively manufactured optical components will be shown.