By Lasitten, via Wikimedia Commons
University of Eastern Finland's Joensuu Campus
The Institute of Photonics at the University of Eastern Finland's (UEF) Joensuu Campus is launching the world's first 3D printing device for optical component research and development.
UEF's venture is in cooperation with the Dutch company LUXeXceL - the creator of the unique Printoptical Technology, a 3D printing method that allows the printing of optical quality components such as lenses without the need for post-processing.
In photonics, the issue with various 3D printing methods is that the quality of the surface is not of a high enough quality for visible light. Surface structures that are not completely smooth cause a scattering of light that can result in a significant loss and reduction in quality.
The first phase of UEF's project spans 18 months, and the majority of the €950,000 (£811,293, $124,550) in funding comes from the Leverage from the EU 2007 structural funding instrument of Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation.
In addition to LUXeXceL and UEF, the project's funders and partners include the Finnish companies Nanocomp, Oplatek Group, Millog, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Idman Airfield Lightning and Nanobakers.
Professor Jyrki Saarinen, the leader of UEF's project, commented: "3D printing is becoming an important manufacturing method for small batches and single items. It is a revolution as regards component availability, development and manufacturing speed, and the concept of customisation.
"Although Finland hasn't been a pioneer in 3D printing, this project will bring Finnish photonics 3D printing to world-leading level."