A new concept for the efficient realization of complex optical systems has been invented and patented . For the so-called "place and bend assembly" a planar substrate is used which features preprocessed bending lines. Due to the progress in production technologies, 3D printing for small and medium volumes as well as other advanced plastic process technologies for high volumes with supreme accuracy are available. Optical, electronic as well as MEMS components can be placed on such a substrate using standard but precise planar technologies. Then the different parts of the substrate are bent and form the 3D body. Simultaneously the optical path inside is generated. This concept is not limited to rectangular shapes. It may also be possible to realize the "W-configuration" of a Czerny-Turner spectrometer in a very efficient way.
The first proof of concept has been achieved with a camera device realized from a 3D printed substrate. An entrance window, two spherical mirrors, an aperture stop and a detector array have been assembled using planar technology. Afterwards the substrate was folded and fixed. The functional capability has been demonstrated by capturing test images which have been optically evaluated. Challenges for the future development will be named and discussed.