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3D Printed Camera (amosdudley.com)
126 points by monort on Sept 9, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 27 comments

I started by hand at 400 grit and went up to 12000 grit by increments of 200 and a set of micro-mesh polishing pads. This process took about 5-6 hours per lens and a lot of elbow grease. Not really sure that qualifies as 3d printing.

However, I like the fact this was not one of those 3D print a case, insert bit's that do all the work. Well beyond film.

But those remarks are just the lens. The lens came out out the 3D printer with a frosty surface. Of course that needs polishing. No 3D printer is going to crank out working optics.

What is surprising here is that the object has the internal clarity, so that all it needs is a surface polish. I imagine it must be relatively free of voids and inclusions.

This was a big surprise for me as well. OK, he used a different printer, but the fact that the 3D-printed lens seems optically OK is very impressive.

I have used 3d printed molds to help me create lenses, but the idea of actually printing a lens is pretty gnarly. I think it definitely qualifies as 3d printing - most models require some touchups after printing from consumer printers anyway.

Actually, there are a number of companies making printers that can print high-quality optics. For example LuxExcel: https://www.luxexcel.com/

He is using an SLA based printer, assuming the resin is bubble free, there should be practically no inclusions in the printed objects.

He almost lost me at "I wanted to find out if there was a more authentic photo at the intersection of ..." Um, no, there isn't. Technology is irrelevant to authenticity. And if he is suggesting that filters make things inauthentic, I think he's full of himself. I despise the reduce-contrast-so-the-picture-looks-like-a-bad-pollution-day filter that's popular everywhere, but it's not inauthentic. No more than upping the saturation on landscape photos is inauthentic. Even Ansel Adams applied a lot of post-processing to his (analog) prints, as I found out when I read "The Print."

The actual 3D printing project is pretty interesting, though.

Props for making the files available. Too often I see these types of projects and the author refuses, which I find silly.

  The photos

   > A plugin is needed to display this content.

...and no scroll bars in Chrome or Safari?

Those interested in DIY camera should also check this project:


The Focal Camera is an open-source modular camera prototyping system.

By offering these designs free for non-commercial use by anyone we strive to improve the ability of making handmade cameras for everyone. It allows for complex cameras that might seem daunting at first, such as SLRs, stereo or panoramic cameras and countless others, including even custom lens design.

WRT Convex lenses: he could flip the lens upside down to allow gravity to pull the pools of resin off the lens.

Also, he may be able to spin it on a surface, like what is done for coating silicon in order to spread the resin evenly across the surface.


It would be interesting to test the camera with normal glass lens, and test the printed lens with a normal camera. This project has two completely separate challenges (make the camera and make the optics), and these challenges are very interesting by themselves.

The camera has a micro 4/3 mount at the moment. The tricky part is that the flange focal distance on the SLO is not to Micro 4/3 spec (or any standard spec), because of the fairly large depth needed for the printed shutter.

It would be very easy to make a lens mount for commercial glass if lens had a larger FFD than the SLO, which is ~41mm.


this is super cool! I'm especially impressed he built his own lens too. it would have been really easy to justify using an existing lens

That starts to turn into something akin to:

Man 3D prints computer

"Ok, first I 3D printed this case. Now we install the MSI motherboard, Intel processor, G.Skill RAM, and other components. Viola, a 3D printed computer!"

Someone should 3D print a 3D printer that 3D prints 3D printers :D

That is literally one of the first goals, the most famous solution being the RepRap.


Which of course only printed the case for a 3D printer.

You've got a lot of catching up to do! :)

check out conductive filament bro, that stuff changed my life

I wonder if it is possible, for small lenses, to laser-cut a piece of acrylic to get the convexity in one dimension then flip it 90 degrees and cut a second time to finish the job. That would still be in the DIY spirit, albeit no longer a 3D-printed solution.

Challenge is the narrow focus range of the laser beam, and the slanted sides due to divergent beam outside this range. But could work for small lenses, worth a test!

Really cool!

How much would something like this cost to print in one of those printing sites?

Until now, none of the service bureaus (Shapeways et al) have the proven capability to print a lens with this clarity and quality. This is one of the first posts I've seen that details how to do it.

You might be able to find someone with a Formlabs printer on 3D Hubs, but they would have to follow this guide to achieve the result. Resin is not cheap either. Overall cost including man-hours of manual testing might cost over $300 if you really wanted it!

Cool project, but the pictures look like you walked down the street randomly pressing the shutter. Would be interesting to see some photos that had some thought put into them.

Cool project!

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