Printing Optical Lenses / Eyeglass Lenses

Someone asked me about printing eyeglass lenses. “No way”, right? They might look okay to an observer, but couldn’t actually be used, right?

I’d have to guess that printed eyeglass lenses would be nowhere near accurate enough or clear enough for vision correction, but I’m curious if the clear can be used to print lenses of any kind – solar burner, Fresnel lens … ?

You can’t get something good enough to use as an eyeglass, but you can definitely make a clear, polished lens that focuses light. Check out our demo here
We are working on some newer applications that will hopefully go even further than a magnifying glass… Stay tuned :slight_smile:

Now that sounds exciting! Can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!

If you want to get that kind of clear polish on clear prints–use micromesh sanding cloths, they work really well.
For eyeglasses though, yeah it won’t work since you’ll remove too much material to be able to get it at a correct shape for what you’re going for.

Ah Max, I love the idea of planning in and printing a drill support to polish the convex side. I’ve done a lot of optical work and taught a class in it, and know that it’s easier to keep/make something flat, than retain a curvature.

I can’t wait to find out what’s brewing at FormLabs regarding lenses. Eyeglasses would be a real popular item.

An important and basic consideration for optical uses would be: how does the index of refraction (IoR) of the resin change as it cures? For any precision work this would be necessary.

One simple qualitative test I can think of off-the-cuff would be to print out a flat rectangle like a large credit card, about 5 mm thick. Don’t post-cure yet. Grind the faces to high flatness. This is easy with monochromatic light and optical flats. Then use something to project an image, like a projector or just binoculars, through the rectangle at approximately 45 degrees. Look for distortion patterns. Then mask the rectangle with strips going the short way and put in the curing box for a while, then mask half the rectangle and put in the curing box for the rest of the time. Now project the image through the rectangle again and observe the distortions. If there are any distortion patterns that line up with the strips, then curing will change the IoR.

If a qualitative change is detected, further quantitative tests can be done to find out where in the curing cycle the IoR changes.

I’m going to have to guess the IoR will change as it goes from liquid to solid, to post-cured solid, but it’s possible it does not change, which would make any lens work much easier.

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