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

Started 4 months ago | Questions
MacM545 Regular Member • Posts: 100
How feasible would it be to 3d print a camera lens?

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

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ProfHankD
ProfHankD Veteran Member • Posts: 5,383
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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E Dinkla Senior Member • Posts: 1,105
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?!

Resin 3D printing must be the best approach I think. Fresnel lenses would be my goal first.

With a 10M $ budget like this local company got as an extra investment you might be able to do it on normal lens types;

https://www.luxexcel.com/

Met vriendelijke groet, Ernst
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ProfHankD
ProfHankD Veteran Member • Posts: 5,383
Re: How feasible would it be to 3d print a camera lens?

E Dinkla wrote:

MacM545 wrote:

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

Resin 3D printing must be the best approach I think. Fresnel lenses would be my goal first.

With a 10M $ budget like this local company got as an extra investment you might be able to do it on normal lens types;

https://www.luxexcel.com/

Sounds about right (although it shouldn't have cost that much to develop). There are still issues with resin in that you have a very limited range of mechanical and optical properties. Our nanotechnology center has been doing molecular-level 3D printing, and that could make awesome lenses, but not very big ones.  

 ProfHankD's gear list:ProfHankD's gear list
Canon PowerShot A640 Canon PowerShot A720 IS Canon PowerShot S70 Canon PowerShot G1 Canon PowerShot G5 +27 more
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