In three-dimensional (3D) optical elements, light interacts with the element throughout its entire volume (as opposed to a discrete set of surfaces, which is done in traditional optics.) This allows for more degrees of freedom in shaping the optical response, in particular creating shift-variant responses. We have used this property in a number of ways to acquire 3D object information from both reflective and fluorescent objects under a variety of illumination conditions, including laser-line-scan, rainbow and uniform white light. The key benefits of using 3D optics are summarized as excellent resolution over long working distances, reduced or completely eliminated scanning, and simultaneous spectral
imaging. Our research addresses the physics of 3D optical elements, their fabrication, and computational methods for maximal information extraction. In this paper, we first overview the properties of 3D optical elements and then we describe a fabrication and assembly method. Our approach, termed Nanostructured Origami, is appropriate for manufacturing micro-scale optical components which also include sub-wavelength optical elements and non-optical components, e.g. energy storage.