3D Printing

Disney Research develops 3D printed optics

Disney Research develops 3D pr...
A 3D printed mobile projector accessory with embedded light pipes that direct light to the character's eyes
A 3D printed mobile projector accessory with embedded light pipes that direct light to the character's eyes
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Touch can be sensed with components entirely embedded in a 3D printed enclosure
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Touch can be sensed with components entirely embedded in a 3D printed enclosure
An LED embedded in a 3D printed lens to focus light
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An LED embedded in a 3D printed lens to focus light
When illuminated the embedded heart shape glows with a heartbeat-like rhythm
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When illuminated the embedded heart shape glows with a heartbeat-like rhythm
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A grid of 3D printed light pipes are embedded inside a character, guiding light between it's feet and eyes
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A grid of 3D printed light pipes are embedded inside a character, guiding light between it's feet and eyes
Chess pieces with embedded light pipes display content piped from an interactive tabletop to provide contextual information, such as chess piece location and suggested moves
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Chess pieces with embedded light pipes display content piped from an interactive tabletop to provide contextual information, such as chess piece location and suggested moves
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Light pipes consist of a rigid transparent core, a soft cladding, and a rigid outer casing, 3D printed in a single model
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Light pipes consist of a rigid transparent core, a soft cladding, and a rigid outer casing, 3D printed in a single model
Interface elements such as buttons, dials, sliders, and accelerometers can be 3D printed
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Interface elements such as buttons, dials, sliders, and accelerometers can be 3D printed
3D printed light pipes can create display areas on physical objects, by guiding light from regular screens
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3D printed light pipes can create display areas on physical objects, by guiding light from regular screens
A 3D printed mobile projector accessory with embedded light pipes that direct light to the character's eyes
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A 3D printed mobile projector accessory with embedded light pipes that direct light to the character's eyes

Researchers at Disney Research Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are experimenting with 3D printed optics using clear resin. Printed optics can create a variety of effects within 3D-printed objects, from focusing light within printed prisms to channeling light through honeycomb-like "light pipes," which give the effect of individually lit pixels.

One of the examples of the new technology uses a mobile projector and internal light pipes to transfer projections through an object, giving a printed toy a pair of animated eyes. An obvious benefit of the technology is the reduction of electronic components. Entire toy lines that would normally require individual LCD or LED displays (and batteries) for animated parts could use light pipes partnered with a single mobile projector to accomplish the same effect.

One of the more interesting concepts involves a game of chess played on a tabletop display. As you move a chess piece across the board, its location is automatically sensed and displayed on the screen, which is then piped through its pedestal. The same technology could be used to display other contextual information, like suggested moves.

Chess pieces with embedded light pipes display content piped from an interactive tabletop to provide contextual information, such as chess piece location and suggested moves
Chess pieces with embedded light pipes display content piped from an interactive tabletop to provide contextual information, such as chess piece location and suggested moves

3D printed light pipes can create display areas on physical objects, by guiding light from regular screens
3D printed light pipes can create display areas on physical objects, by guiding light from regular screens

The researchers are also experimenting with embedded electronic components that are inserted into an object mid-print. By doing so, they can create components like buttons, dials, sliders, and LED bulbs that focus light, as well as accelerometers and touch sensors (that use IR emitters and receivers). The team says the technology will be implemented in a variety of interactive toys and devices in the future.

You can see this technology at work in the video below.

Source: Disney Research via 3ders

Printed Optics

2 comments
Joe Nickence
Wow. Just... wow. I think I was most impressed with the exotic light bulbs.
BigGoofyGuy
I think that has a lot of possibilities.