The demand for disposable optics, especially in biomedical fields involving point of care testing systems has led to navigation for new low-cost and high quality optics fabrication processes. We demonstrate that 3D-printing of optics allows on-demand fabrication of polymer lenses at a low price, when no expensive initial tooling expenses are required. However, achieving high surface quality imaging optics has been challenging primarily when the lens diameter is greater than fivefold of a millimeter. In this work, we demonstrate an imaging quality 3D-printed polymer lens with high surface quality of RMS = 0.92 ± 0.33 nm (δ, N=25) and surface profile deviation of ± 500 nm within 0.5 inch aperture diameter. The 3D-printing method is based on Luxexcel’s Printoptical® Technology, using modified ink-jet printheads, by depositing micro-droplets of Opticlear, which is a UV-curable polymer with an inhomogeneity index of 1.1-1.3×10-5 for 0.5 mm plate. We demonstrate a spatial resolution limit below 5 μm using a USAF1951-1x imaging resolution target for the 3D-printed singlet lens that is comparable to an off-the shelf commercial LA1509 N-BK7 plano-convex lens with the same specification parameters. Another application area of the inch-scale printed lens is in low-cost DSLR cameras. Experimental photos taken with a 3D-printed singlet lens and a commercial glass lens are nearly identical. As a result, manufacturing of 3D-printed singlet lenses with repeatability of ±200 nm for small or medium volume production at once becomes feasible by placing the printheads in parallel. We expect further developments towards achromatic optics by development of new 3D-printable polymers.
Bisrat G. Assefa, Henri Partanen, Markku Pekkarinen, Joris Biskop, Jari Turunen, and Jyrki Saarinen, "Imaging quality 3D-printed inch scale lenses with 10[angstrom] surface quality for swift small or medium volume production (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10915, Organic Photonic Materials and Devices XXI, 1091504 (Presented at SPIE OPTO: February 05, 2019; Published: 5 March 2019); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2506010.6010437855001.
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