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Nick Foley, Sociable Bicycles
Nick Foley's 3D Printable Lens Mechanism
This 1930s Carl Zeiss Sonnar lens has been adapted for use on a modern digital camera
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A shot taken with the 3D printable lens mechanism
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Cityscape image taken with the lens
Go to any thrift store, garage sale, car boot sale or even antique store and we guarantee you that you’ll see an old camera or lens in there that was once worth a small fortune but has been cast aside thanks to the development of modern digital photography technology.
These former greats sit gathering dust when all they want to do is take photographs, now thanks to a resourceful Thingiverse member old lenses are being loved again.
Specifically this lens is a 1930s Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50mm 1:1.5, previously it has been difficult and expensive to adapt this lens for use with a modern digital camera. Nick Foley, Head of Industrial Design at Social Bicycles, set about creating a cheap and easy, 3d printable integration between his new Sony camera and this 80-year-old lens.
‘Open Sonnar - The 3D Printable Lens Focusing Mechanism’ is a proof of concept material test that seems like it may have a more widespread use. Nick and his team were testing out different materials on their Ultimaker machine when, with only a few minor mods, they discovered they could print with Acetal.
He told the Ultimaker forum: “After several weeks of testing, I am happy to say that we are 3D printing in acetal. We are getting amazingly strong, slippery, rigid, complex parts with only very minor modifications to our stock machine. It is frequently said that 3D printing is limited in its ability to replace traditional mass-production because of the limited materials it can utilize, but Acetal is one plastic for which there is generally no superior, and the parts we have been able to produce are certainly as strong as their injection-molded counterparts.”
The test part was said lens-focussing mechanism that allowed Nick to take beautiful shots with his new camera/old lens combination. The acetal part (white) is threaded onto the old lens and then into the PLA (purple) part, which is in turn attached to the camera.
Of Acetal’s many properties the most important for this application is the fact that it hass very low friction, meaning the turning of the lens when focussing is as easy as possible. The resulting photos as you can see (to the left of the page) are quite something, all from someone who describes himself as “only knowing a small amount about photography.”
This is the sort of exceedingly useful application we expect to see more often once users get to know the specifics of their 3D printers. Hats off Mr. Foley, hats off indeed.