Additive manufacturing of optical components

by Andreas, Heinrich

A. Heinrich, M. Rank, P. Maillard, A. Suckow, Y. Bauckhage, P. Rößler, J. Lang, F. Shariff and S. Pekrul; 

Advanced Optical Technologies vol. 5(4), pp. 293-301; 2016

The development of additive manufacturing methods has enlarged rapidly in recent years. Thereby the work mainly focuses on the realization of mechanical components. But the additive manufacturing technology offers a high potential in the field of optics as well. Due to new design possibilities, completely new solutions are possible. This article briefly reviews and compares the most important additive manufacturing methods for polymer optics. Additionally it points out the characteristics of additive manufactured polymer optics. Thereby surface quality is of crucial importance. In order to improve it, appropriate post-processing steps are necessary (e.g. robot polishing or coating), which will be discussed. An essential part of this paper deals with various additive manufactured optical components and their use, especially in optical systems for shape metrology (e.g. borehole sensor, tilt sensor, freeform surface sensor, fisheye lens). The examples should demonstrate the potentials and limitations of optical components produced by additive manufacturing.