Additive Optics Design and Fabrication – A Powerful Marriage 

THE answer to overcoming the bottlenecks in conventional optics design and manufacture has, after the marriage of two emerging technologies, become fairly simple: Modern mathematical design methods can be used to rapidly generate designs for custom optics. Accordingly, the physical parts can be generated using Additive Optics Manufacturing processes to generate functional parts on demand. Considered optics are – along with cooling technology – the key area of concern in nearly any new lighting system development, this is pretty interesting news for the Lighting Industry.

Image showing handheld 3D printed facet lens by Luximprint and its final projection at the target

Faceted Lens Software – Design for Additive Optics Fabrication

Traditionally, optics design methods include ray-tracing combined with human expertise to optimize the parameters of design. This approach often entails manually finding the best optical design for a certain problem, relying on the expert’s insights.


Image of conventional way of optics lens design

Diagram Ray-tracing method [Light source (ray file)] → [Secondary optics (CAD)] → [External distribution of light (Eulumdat)]

Novel ‘target-to-source methods’ however, include the calculation of optical design in a directly printable digital CAD format, with inputs ‘the light source properties’ and the ‘requested external distribution of light’ (target). It leads the focus away from ‘how to achieve it?’ towards ‘where is the light desired’.


Image of novel target-to-source method by Physionary

Target-to-source method [Light source (ray file)] → [Secondary optics (CAD)] ← [External distribution of light (Eulumdat)]

Additive Optics Fabrication – Custom Optics Printed to Demand

Whereas Faceted Lens Software aims to take away the bottlenecks in today’s lens design processing, optical 3D printing addresses the pain points faced in traditional lens manufacture. Custom optics are now generated directly from the CAD file, with only one step from CAD-to-Optic.

Image of Luximprint direct CAD-to-Optic Manufacturing process

Direct ‘CAD-to-Optic’ manufacture is the most straightforward way of getting your custom optics available without costly commitments.

Combined Approaches – Unique Features

The unique features of the combined technological approaches include some vital economical and sustainability advantages. Most notable are:

* Design and Manufacturing Flexibility:
Enhanced flexibility and freedom including ultra-fast design and raytracing options at design end, as well as the ease of fabricating ‘Product Variations’ (small deviations on a given design) and ‘Product Iterations’ (adjustments) in one single 3D printing process;

* Toolless Manufacture:
Direct Digital CAD-to-Optic manufacture with no need to invest in (wasted) manufacturing (soft)tooling;

* Zero-stock, Zero-Waste:
With toolless-fabrication, no Minimum Order Quantities (MOQ) are needed to be sourced to amortize the tooling investment. This avoids costly write-offs and eliminates the need for maintaining large quantities of stock.

Sketch demonstrating conventional lighting design scheme compared to printed facet lenses and reduction of light pollution

The use of printed Facet Lenses enables a project lighting designer to put ‘light where needed’. As such, unwanted light losses and glare (Figure A) can be avoided and a perfect ‘fit-for-purpose’ is guaranteed (Figure B).

* Significant Reduction of Light Pollution:
The ability to put ‘light exactly where needed’ avoids unnecessary light losses, unwanted or hindering glare and reflections. This directly benefits the well-being of living species, including humans and animals.

More Information

Learn more about additively generated Facet Lenses on our Faceted Lens Technology pages.