Today I came across an interesting article regarding 3D printing of camera and lenses using stereolithography (using Formlabs SLA printer which I happen to have one) by a maker called Amos. The sort of lenses that can be used in a camera! Amos has created an almost entirely 3D printed camera (except the film) and has shared his experience in his blog. It is also interesting in the ways he overcomes the challenges of polishing the lens, including building a lens polishing machine with Arduino and discovering rather serendipitously but with great intuition and perseverance I reckon, a better and ingenious method in polishing the lens, through dipping the lens in the resin.
Exploring the potential impact of additive 3D printing/fabrication is one of my interests and so I dug a little bit more into 3D printing of optics. There is a company called Luxexcel that does that. Why is additive 3D printing of optics (and visual sensor) interesting to me?
The visual system is an important milestone in the evolution of living things on earth. They appear very early in evolution, at the micro-organism stages, and probably is one of the key reasons why most neuronal lifeforms on earth have circadian rhythms. Early visual systems in primitive lifeforms were used mainly to differentiate whether the surrounding is light or dark. Where it might have took nature hundreds of millions of years to evolve sophisticated visual systems with lens, technologies such as 3D printing can potentially achieved that in hundreds of years. Imagine multiple 3D printers printing different functional parts, materials and structures, and robotic systems with arms that assemble/integrate all the components together. Furthermore artificial intelligent systems that write and test the coding and configuration. In the future it will not just be the case of human builds machine, nor machine builds machine, but machine that rivals the power of natural and human evolution.