Printed Optics is a new approach to creating custom optical elements for interactive devices using 3D printing. Printed Optics enable sensing, display, and illumination elements to be directly embedded in the body of an interactive device. Using these elements, unique display surfaces, novel illumination techniques, custom optical sensors, and robust embedded components can be digitally fabricated for rapid, high fidelity, customized interactive devices.
Printed Optics is part of our long term vision for the production of interactive devices that are 3D printed in their entirety. Future devices will be fabricated on demand with user-specific form and functionality. Printed Optics explores the possibilities for this vision afforded by today’s 3D printing technology.
Chess pieces with embedded light pipes display content piped from an interactive tabletop. Contextual information, such as chess piece location and suggested moves, can be displayed on each individual piece.
3D printed light pipes can create display areas on physical objects, by guiding light from regular screens.
Light pipes consist of a rigid transparent core, a soft cladding, and a rigid outer casing, 3D printed in a single model.
3D printed light bulbs enable many exciting new form factors.
Internal bubbles can be accurately placed for unique light bulb designs.
A toy character has an embedded heart shape made from a series of internal bubbles.
A mobile 3D display created by projecting on internal bubbles within a 3D printed model.
Touch can be sensed with components entirely embedded in a 3D printed enclosure.
An LED embedded in a 3D printed lens to focus light.
A 3D printed mobile projector accessory with embedded light pipes. Projected imagery is mapped onto the character’s eyes. The character responds to user interaction such as sound or physical movement.
A grid of 3D printed light pipes are embedded inside a character, guiding light between it’s feet and eyes.
We envision future interactive devices that are 3D printed from individual layers (left) rather than assembled from individual parts (right).
Complex shapes can be designed and used with energy efficient LED light sources.
Light pipes inside the bulbs can direct light and create internal patterns.
When illuminated the embedded heart shape glows with a heartbeat-like rhythm.
Interface elements such as buttons, dials, sliders, and accelerometers can be 3D printed.
A four-way button with sensors embedded inside the 3D print.
A 3D printed prism is used to reflect light in four directions for a four-way button.
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