How feasible would it be to 3d print a camera lens?

Started Aug 11, 2017 | Questions thread
ProfHankD Veteran Member • Posts: 6,167
Re: How feasible would it be to 3d print a camera lens?

MacM545 wrote:

I want to print my own lenses. Just how feasible would that be?!

Not very.

The best lenses I was able to directly 3D-print on my MakerGear M2 were able to form an image, but resolved maybe a few line pairs per mm -- a good lens should be 30-50.

Key issues:

  • Clarity of the material (e.g., "natural" PLA is often cloudy)
  • Presence of air gaps inside 100% filled structures
  • Insufficiently-precise basic shape (which can be refined by grinding, but then the lens isn't usable right off the printer)
  • Surface roughness (can be corrected by chemical, thermal, or abrasive polishing)

Beyond that, all you'd get then is one element with a very limited set of optical properties (index of refraction, dispersion) -- the lens elements aren't good enough to make multi-element optics.

On the other hand, 3D printing lens mounts, barrels, focus mechanisms, etc. is fairly easy and I do those all the time.  

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