Additive manufacturing processes have been used to print a variety of polymer, metal, ceramic and composite materials for a rapidly growing range of functional applications involving printed electronics, embedded optical components and sensors. Additive manufacturing (or 3D Printing) techniques such as Stereolithography (SLA) and Inkjet Printing have been used to print stand-alone optical components and interactive optical devices respectively. To date, however, there has been relatively little focus on multi-material printing of components with embedded optical functionality.
This research focuses on printing embedded light-transmitting “pipes” within 3D structures using Fused Filament Extrusion (FFE) and inkjet 3D printing. With FFE, relatively low-cost parts can be printed using multiple transparent and translucent materials for applications such as illumination, light covers and light pipes. Direct functional assemblies for sensing, display and illumination components are better suited for the inkjet 3D printing processes which are generally capable of producing more accurate parts with higher resolution. A comparative study is performed for successful quantification of parameters affecting optical clarity and light transmission through printed embedded light pipes. Clear and opaque commercially available Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) filament is used for the FFE process, whereas an acrylic based ink formulation is used for inkjet 3D printed parts. Printed light pipes are tested for light transmission (light intensity) using an exposure meter. The results show how light transmission through the printed light pipes is affected by printing parameter levels.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Three-dimensional printing; Optical materials
Industrial and Systems Engineering (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
Industrial and Systems Engineering (KGCOE)
Gandhi, Shaunak B., "3D Printing of Transparent Materials for Optical Applications" (2018). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus