3D Printing of Optics

  • March 31, 2015
  • 7:00 PM
  • UR / LLE East Lobby

Speaker: Stephen Burns, University of Rochester

Bio: Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Rochester, he was Chair of Mechanical Engineering from 2001 to 2007. As a teacher and researcher for many years, he is a recognized authority on materials, X-ray diffraction and fracture mechanics, publishing over 150 papers and articles. He with his students has pioneered contributions to optical manufacturing include measurements of optical surface stresses, software and conceptual developments for OptiPro System’s Ultra-Fine Finishing machine and additive printing of reflective optics, this last subject has been researched under the National Science Foundation’s Center for Freeform Optics.  Professor Burns has consulted for many companies and presented seminars both in the US and abroad. A New York state licensed engineer, Burns received a Ph.D. from Cornell in 1967.



Additive printing of manufactured, mechanical components has undergone a sea change in recent years. Optical components, however, have very special requirements for both smooth surfaces and very precise shapes where the wavelength of light is the comparison measure. Optical removal manufacturing has with time been able to achieve these goals. There are several companies that will now supply additively manufactured optical components. We have tested and evaluated simply designed additive optical components using interferometers, profilemeters and materials characterization facilities. We have found that the layer by layer printing of additively manufactured optical components can indeed achieve optically smooth surfaces but the shape or form of the optic is still a serious drawback in accomplishing optical quality as expected from glass or ceramic optical components. Additive manufacturing of optics is a technology that has both strengths and weaknesses but it is sure to come.


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