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Many people debate the pros and cons of the different printing technologies out there. There are FFD printers (anything with a filament), SLA (resin based printers), and SLS (powders melted by lasers). Each has its strong points and weak points varying from cost to functional features. This latest project at Formlabs really opens up an entirely new realm of possibilities utilizing their SLA printers. They have printed an optical lens.

Some impressive planning and thought went into how to make this happen. The printer doesn’t simply print out a fully usable lens, ready to go. Then again, if you go to a factory that produces lenses you’ll know that there is a considerable amount of finishing required even using traditional methods. In this case an assembly is printed that includes the lens and a support structure designed to fit in an electric drill. This brilliant idea allows for quick and easy polishing.

Left to right: (1) Lens printed with supports in clear resin with 50 micron layers. “Housing” connected to lens with 12 x 1mm thick posts has 6mm rod to fit into cordless drill. (2) Convex side of lens polished. (3) Housing removed. (4) Press fit housing to polish flat side of lens.

Left to right: (1) Lens printed with supports in clear resin with 50 micron layers. “Housing” connected to lens with 12 x 1mm thick posts has 6mm rod to fit into cordless drill. (2) Convex side of lens polished. (3) Housing removed. (4) Press fit housing to polish flat side of lens.

 

You can find more pictures and information on the project, as well as the design files for printing your own, on their site.  Now we’re wondering: Who is going to be the first person to 3D print prescription glasses?