September 28, 2018

Northwestern University uses OpticStudio to help create 4-hour 3D printing method for lenses

Northwestern University uses OpticStudio to help create 4-hour 3D printing method for lenses

As reported on Today’s Medical Developments, Northwestern University engineers have developed a “3D printing method to produce customized optical components, 5mm x 5mm diameter, in about 4 hours.” The group used a two-step process to layer and polish the lenses and the result is 3D printed lenses that can be used for photography or even customized contact lenses. Biqin Dong, a member of the team, suggests that the low-cost lenses could also be used in underdeveloped regions by medical professionals, turning their phones into portable microscopes.

The team at Northwestern University, including Xiangfan Chen, Wenzhong Liu, Biqin Dong, Jongwoo Lee, Henry Oliver T. Ware, Hao F. Zhang, and Cheng Sun, used OpticStudio to optimize the surface profile of the aspheric lens to improve the imaging performance by reducing aberrations at a certain wavelength.

Aspheric singlet lens optimization by Zemax simulation
Courtesy: Northwestern University

Adding aspheric lenses to improve optical design

Making one or more surfaces in an optical design aspheric is a common way to improve optical performance without increasing the number of surfaces. However, it is not always apparent which surfaces will most benefit from aspherization.

Further, adding an aspheric surface can increase costs in both manufacture of the element and in tolerancing to assess the sensitivity of the system to perturbation of the aspheric surface. Therefore, more is not always better: The designer must carefully assess which surfaces to make aspheric, and generally will want to use the least degree of asphericity needed to give the desired performance.

Zemax’s Find Best Asphere tool in OpticStudio is a useful way to identify which surface will benefit most from aspherization. In a manner similar to Test Plate fitting, the tool replaces spherical surfaces with aspherical surfaces of user-specified degree. The user can run the tool multiple times, varying the degree of asphericity each time, and can decide whether to keep the suggested asphere or discard it.

See how it works in our video:

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