Individually manufactured and still suitable for mass production? Within the framework of the Fraunhofer "Go Beyond 4.0" project, this apparent contradiction is to be eliminated. In the field of illumination optics, the two Fraunhofer Institutes for Silicate Research ISC and for Optics and Precision Engineering IOF developed new material concepts and processing technology for multifunctional and individualized optical components for “lot size 1”.
The starting point is the relatively easy customizable 3D printing technology. Disadvantages of three-dimensional printing so far, however, were the disturbing effects in the volume and on the surfaces of printed objects, such as layering artifacts or roughness.
Furthermore, the material properties of conventional 3D-printable polymers are usually insufficient for advanced optical components and systems.
High demands are placed on optical systems in the field of lighting. The materials used should be as glass-like as possible, with no yellowing during long term operation and a high transparency in the visible part of the spectrum. Artifacts or inhomogeneities in the printed volume caused by the layer-by-layer processing and not very smooth surfaces due to printing structures on the micrometer scale are unacceptable for use in optical systems.
However, with ORMOCER®s – glass-like inorganic-organic hybrid polymers - from the Fraunhofer ISC and an improved printing technology from the Fraunhofer IOF, a leap in optical quality could be accomplished. Specially adjusted optical ORMOCER®s have already been used in the area of optical assembly and connection technology by the Fraunhofer ISC scientists.
"The initial material has had very good optical properties at all. Due to further development it was refined for the enhanced 3D printing process, as provided by the colleagues of the Fraunhofer IOF. The combination of material and technology avoids defects on surfaces and in volumes that would otherwise result from 3D printing", explains Dr. Sönke Steenhusen, project manager at Fraunhofer ISC.
In addition, other required functional components such as apertures, electrically conducting tracks or mirrors can be integrated into the printed optical components during the manufacturing process. This simplifies later assembly and enables highly complex optical components.
Thus optical systems can be created easily by combining optical ORMOCER® and digital manufacturing processes. Thus, the printed optics are also interesting for advanced lighting tasks, which couldn’t be realized so far by other means. For larger quantities, the Fraunhofer researchers are already working on the parallelization of processes.
More information about R&D activities on optics, see
More information about the Fraunhofer "Go Beyond 4.0" project, run by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and carried out by the Fraunhofer Institutes ENAS, IFAM, ILT, IOF, ISC and IWU, see
Dr. Sönke Steenhusen
Deputy Head of Optics and Electronics
Fraunhofer-Institut für Silicatforschung ISC
97082 Würzburg, Germany
Dipl.-Geophys. Marie-Luise Righi | Fraunhofer-Institut für Silicatforschung ISC
Thermophones offer new route to radically simplify array design, research shows
03.07.2020 | University of Exeter
The lightest electromagnetic shielding material in the world
02.07.2020 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.
Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....
Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.
Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...
A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...
Live event – July 1, 2020 - 11:00 to 11:45 (CET)
"Automation in Aerospace Industry @ Fraunhofer IFAM"
The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM l Stade is presenting its forward-looking R&D portfolio for the first time at...
With an X-ray experiment at the European Synchrotron ESRF in Grenoble (France), Empa researchers were able to demonstrate how well their real-time acoustic monitoring of laser weld seams works. With almost 90 percent reliability, they detected the formation of unwanted pores that impair the quality of weld seams. Thanks to a special evaluation method based on artificial intelligence (AI), the detection process is completed in just 70 milliseconds.
Laser welding is a process suitable for joining metals and thermoplastics. It has become particularly well established in highly automated production, for...
02.07.2020 | Event News
19.05.2020 | Event News
07.04.2020 | Event News
03.07.2020 | Life Sciences
03.07.2020 | Studies and Analyses
03.07.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering