Jyrki Saarinen, University of Eastern Finland and the Dutch LUXeXceL company cooperate to build the first 3-D printer for photonics manufacturing R&D. The printer is being built at the university’s Institute of Photonics at a cost of almost a million euros. It is expected to be up and running by the end of the year. The idea is to combine the possibilities offered by 3-D printing with other modern photonics manufacturing technologies such as laser ablation.
In 3-D printing, instead of printing out paper with ink on it, UV curable plastic or metal, glass, ceramics, paper, and even chocolate is used and printed layer by layer to create three-dimensional objects. The currently known 3-D printing methods result in surfaces that easily remain rough and scatter light. LUXeXceL created a unique, digital manufacturing method, the Printoptical Technology. This allows the printing of optical quality components, such as lenses with colored coating, directly from a CAD file without the need for any post-processing.