3D-Printing of Optics and Laser Components

Complete laser systems out of the 3D printer? What sounds like a long way off is the goal of a new research project of the Leibniz University Hanover together with the Laser Zentrum Hannover LZH, the Clausthaler Zentrum für Materialtechnik and the Hanover University of Applied Sciences and Arts. They want to 3D print at least parts of a laser system. Because this manufacturing technology enables completely new approaches for the production of lasers and for the lighting industry.

The 3D printing of glass can enable new optic geometries. (Source: LZH)

The scientists of the innovation network GROTESK want to 3D print optics and optomechanical components made of different materials, such as glass, polymers, and metals, ideally in one step. In that way, for example, it is possible to create complex optical geometries or to print holders with integrated cooling channels around conventional components, such as laser crystals.

“With additive manufacturing we can leave conventional thinking behind. The manufacturing of optics and components can be implemented in a completely different way. We are thus creating new design options for optical transmission paths, housing, structures and thermal management”, summarizes Dr. Dietmar Kracht, scientific-technical director of the LZH.

In cooperation with the partners, the LZH will define the requirements for the optical elements, create their design, and examine the finished products for their optical, thermal, and structural properties.

The project acronym GROTESK stands for “Generative Fertigung optischer, thermaler und struktureller Komponenten“ (generative manufacturing of optical, thermal, and structural components). The project is being carried out in the innovation network under the leadership of the Leibniz University. The joint research project has a total volume of about 1.9 million euros and is partly financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the State of Lower Saxony. (Source: LZH)

Link: Business Area Additive Manufacturing (Dr. Kaierle), Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V., Hanover, Germany

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