The Digitization of Plastics Fabrication (4)

“Printoptical Technology contributes to a Third Industrial Revolution”

New industrial revolution
The consequences of all these changes amount to a third industrial revolution, as randomly speculated about in many different media nowadays. The first industrial revolution of mankind took place in Great-Britain (late 18th century), starting with the mechanization of the textile industry. In the decades hereafter, the machines were started to be used to produce things, instead of crafting them by hand, with an incredible increase of efficiency. They correctly understood that we not only need to work hard any more, but more smart, to realize the potential benefits offered by mechanical technologies. The second industrial revolution on its turn found its roots in the USA, in the early 20th century. With the discovery of the assembly line whole industries entered into a new era of mass production. The age of “getting digital” nowadays would mean another significant change in how products are engineered and manufactured. The 3D printing and on-demand availability of optics significantly contributes to this ongoing development and is expected to be one of the most influential steps the industry has known in the last decades.

Conclusions
In summary, 3D printing of optics is amazingly powerful and will continue to develop into a major part of the product development process. Printoptical Technology makes significant leaps forward in technology, and brings revolutionary, not merely evolutionary, advances in the additive manufacturing of LED lighting optics. As Printoptical Technology almost daily evolve and the prices of systems decrease, it enables to experience a whole new way to develop optics and launch the lighting industry into mass customization. Numerous leading lighting companies have adopted Printoptical Technology in an innovative way, leading the charge in additive manufacturing. And this on-demand business model is spreading. Adopting digital manufacturing of optics isn’t just a good idea – it’s a necessity for any company committed to retaining (or creating) competitive advantage within the highly crowded global lighting place. It is here, and it is fixed staying. This technology is no longer considered a science fiction. Rest assured, once Printoptical Technology is experienced in-house, more applications and cost saving will be discovered. It might still be in its infancy, and there are still issues to solve and challenges to overcome, but it will drive almost all additive manufacturing of optics in the future and it must be a part of every portfolio.

This article is the last part in a range written on “Digital Optics Manufacturing”, intended to let the lighting industry and it’s insiders know about Printoptical Technology and it’s improved opportunities for the manufacturing of LED lighting optics. Thanks for reading these posts, see you soon!

Sources:
[1] Wohlers Report 2012 – Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing, State of the Industry
Annual Worldwide Progress Report – www.wohlersassociates.com
[2] The Economist – Manufacturing & Innovation, Special Report, April 2012

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The Digitization of Plastics Fabrication (3)

“Printoptical Technology offers Unparalleled Design Freedom to Designers and Luminaire Makers resulting in Optimized Design Processes, a shortened Product Time-to-Market and an overall Increased Competitive Edge”

Optimized Design Processes
The longer an optic takes in the design and prototyping phase, the longer it takes the lighting fixture to get to market, meaning less potential profit for the company. With increasing pressure to get products to market quickly, companies are compelled to make quick yet accurate decisions during the conceptual stage of design. These decisions can affect the majority of total cost factors by establishing material selection, manufacturing techniques and design longevity. Printoptical Technology can optimize design processes for greatest potential profit by speeding iterations through product testing. An optimized design process with more prototype iterations can help minimize risk of product failure. Because Printoptical Platforms can produce optics with fine feature details, designers can be more confident in their work. Making needed changes as early as possible saves money and time. Optics made by 3D printing can give optical designers and engineers a thorough understanding of potential lighting products earlier in the design process than other methods, minimizing the risk that problems will go unnoticed until it’s too late.

Reasons to Adopt Printoptical Technology
The practical reasons for adopting Printoptical Technology are fairly obvious: no tooling required, new design opportunities, easy iterations, fast product availability. However, consider the effects that it can have on the scale and reach of projects. With Printoptical Technology designers are no longer constrained by space or volume limitations, like when they use injection molding. They can build greener, smarter and bigger optics and experiment with all types of new layouts without loss of tooling and investments.

Freeform Optics
Moreover, it is possible to create freeform optics: novel optics that are designed in a asymmetric and complex way. Freeform optics are difficult to make using the traditional fabrication methods, and the making would rather have to be based on ultra-precision machining technology. This novel Printoptical Technology can be widely applied to machining freeform plastic optics. In this way, innovative optoelectronic products can be supplied to the market at a competitive price. Printoptical Technology gives the freedom to suit nearly every optical application, giving the design freedom to achieve the exact optic the maker wants, without compromise.

New ways of design, out of the box thinking
Designers are encouraged to broaden their horizon and to change their ‘mindset’, and start a completely new way of thinking. The results of the design process can be new geometric or freeform shapes that may include transparent prisms or lenses, as well as colored lenses, lens combinations, full color 3D graphics and textures, like integrated surface structures and company logos. Even though the material is deposited in discrete drops, the resulting surface is perfectly smooth. This is accomplished by delaying the time between the jetting of the droplets and the application of UV light, which gives the polymer time to flow and for each droplet to lose its spherical form. The mechanism for surface formation is surface tension, a phenomenon of nature which produces surfaces more smooth that any man-made process can match. Optical quality surfaces are achieved with no post processing.

Advanced multi-lens, integrated in wood grain and matte texture

Advanced multi-lens, integrated in wood grain and matte texture

Shortened time to market
With these digital manufacturing applications, the designers and engineers can make alterations to their optical designs in seconds, and see how every minute change will affect the entire fixture design. The Printoptical Software provides a highly cost-efficient means of producing numerous optical design iterations and gaining immediate feedback throughout the critical beginning stages of the development process. The ability to refine form, fit and function of the optics quickly can significantly improve production costs and time to market. This can create a distinct competitive advantage for those companies who include Printoptical Technology as an integral part of their overall design process. The speed, consistency, accuracy and low cost of this process will help lighting companies reduce the overall time-to-market and maintain a competitive edge. The engineers can properly address all potential problems with an optic before construction begins, they’ll save time, money, physical resources and maximize the efficiency of their team. What would have seemed extremely tedious and time-consuming in the past years – such as designing and setting up an production line, can now be done in a fraction of the time.

Increased competitiveness
Undoubtedly, 3D printing of optics is a step in the right direction for saving our planet. The world economy is in dire straits, and highly respected global lighting companies are laying off workers by hundreds, or have to shut down completely. Local markets are flooded with low-quality, cheap lighting alternatives and suppliers are shutting their doors due to devastating decreases in consumer and OEM demand. Right now, the main question on every manufacturer’s mind is: how do we stay competitive? It turns out that in this case, helping the environment can dramatically help the bottom line. By cutting upfront cost, generating less need for working capital, delivering a high return on investment and contributing to revenue increases, digital manufacturing can save companies money, time and make them even more attractive as a potential business partner.

Thanks for reading part 3/4 of this blog on the digitization of optics fabrication. Next week, the last edition will be published with more views on a ‘third industrial revolution’ and conclusions.

Simplifying Optical Prototyping by ‘Printoptical Technology’

“How Additive Optical Manufacturing can help OEM Lighting Manufactures and Optical Designers creating new designs, customize them and change optical products easily, market them faster, and increase the overall supply chain efficiency along the way”

Birth of a new Key Technology
Printoptical Technology’ is a new industry key in additive manufacturing and volume production of LED lighting optics, innovated by the Dutch LUXeXceL Group. It is a brand new form of “additive manufacturing’, otherwise known as 3D printing, focusing on the ‘on-demand’ printing of prototypes, mid – and high volume series of LED lighting optics.

Printoptical Revolution
I recently noticed that experts have called this year 2012 “the year of 3D-printing” and they expect this technology in general to break into the mainstream market on short term with new industrial viability. As “industry insider” I think they’re right. As part of this, the coming of Printoptical Technology will stimulate and speed up that process of market change significantly. Personally, I believe that this new (disruptive) Printoptical Technology is going to cause a revolution in the manufacturing of optics and will change the manufacturing landscape as we know it dramatically.

The so called “Printoptical Revolution” has started early 2011 and the developments to the technology have allowed companies involved in the LED lighting industry saving time and money, while significantly shortening the time-to-market and increasing customization capabilities at the same time.

Printoptical Technology – at a glance
Let me highlight some key benefits of this technology for the global LED lighting market:

• Significant reduction of development cost and time;
• Shortened time-to-market;
• Simplified supply chain;
• Functional, customized optics easily printed;
• Simple or complex optics produced “on-demand”;
• Easy in-process lens modifications;
• Free-form optics, virtually in any shape;
• No excessive start-up and tooling cost;
• One single manufacturing process;
• Integrated optical- and fixture design;
• New design opportunities.

Optical Prototypes and production series can be printed easily, on demand. Moreover, it will bring designers plenty of new opportunities in design and functionality, thanks to the unique digital way of designing and the opportunity to run “single-job” printing process. The creation and short term availability of optics has never been so easy and quick!

Diverse printoptical products printed in one single shot

Finally, I am really sorry for this long post and taking so many of your time. But I trust this topic has your special interest, that’s why I am happy to explain this promising technologies’ backgrounds in more detail. Thanks for your interest and spending your time here.

If you are willing to experience more on this topic, I can recommend you a recent article in LED Professional Review (LPR), the leading worldwide authority for LED lighting technology information: http://bit.ly/GDtTMF (page 50-54).