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The folks at Disney Research, in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon, are doing interesting work with 3D printing clear resin, light-guiding “light pipes.” The details are documented in their newly released research paper, “Printed Optics: 3D Printing of Embedded Optical Elements for Interactive Devices” (PDF).

From their site:

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.

Goli Mohammadi

I’m senior editor at MAKE and have worked on MAKE magazine since the first issue. I’m a word nerd who particularly loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon as a whole. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for the ideal alpine lake or hunting for snow to feed my inner snowboard addict.

The maker movement provides me with endless inspiration, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. The specific beat I cover is art, and I’m a huge proponent of STEAM (as opposed to STEM). After all, the first thing most of us ever made was art.

Contact me at goli (at) makermedia (dot) com.



  1. Shotgunner says:

    Is anybody making an affordable printer that prints in wax? Metallic parts investment cast from 3D printed wax models seems like a terrific way to go!

  2. Andrew says:

    I can imagine printing headlights and art displays will be possible in the next half decade. This is big news!


  3. Tatiana Coba says:

    really really far away technology that won’t be available for years in avery expensive market. no accessible to all humans. not worth watching. total waste of time.

    1. Didn’t think it was a waste of time at all. Do you only like to know about research and advances in tech that are available from WalMart or RadioShack? I enjoy watching, reading, and learning about all things maker-related, even if they’re out of my skill level or price range or even years from actual availability.

      1. Andrew says:


In the Maker Shed