3D printed photonics and free-form optics

3D printing (also known as additive manufacturing) is considered a third industrial revolution. Although multiple examples in aerospace, architecture, automotive, biotech (human tissue replacement), dental and medical industries, education, eyewear, fashion, footwear, industrial design, jewellery, military, food etc., the area that has been missing is optics. Dutch start-up LUXeXceL is the exception to the statement. They have invented the Printoptical® technology for 3D printing optical elements. Their technology is based on an inkjet printing process.

In collaboration with Luxexcel, our group will further develop the Printoptical® technology towards smaller features and more accurate surface control, larger selection of materials, novel optics and unique combination with other state-of-the-art micro-optics and nano photonics manufacturing methods as well as mechanics, electronics and biocompatible materials.

Until recently, because of over hundred years old manufacturing methods, optical elements have been either rotationally or linearly symmetric. Thanks to the progress of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines, freeform surfaces that depart from rotational symmetry for use at the wavelengths as short as one micron is possible. Freeform optics introduces innovative 3-dimensional solutions: one element contains more complicated and numerous optical functions with better performance than ever before. Thanks to freeform optics, optical system development is entering into the era of revolution.

Because of the nature of 3D printing (adding structured layers on top of each other), the method is ideal for freeform optics. Actually, 3D printing complicated freeform optics is as easy or difficult as printing perfect spherical lenses – “complexity is free” in 3D printing.

Novel strategies and algorithms based on our expertise in diffractive optics and results of forthcoming 3D printing experiments will be developed for free-form optics design. We aim at synthesizing design concepts in diffractive and free-from optics, and to develop hybrid optical elements and systems that employ both technologies. 


  • Prof. Jyrki Saarinen
  • Prof. Markku Kuittinen
  • Prof. Jari Turunen (design)
  • Prof. Tuula Pakkanen (materials/chemistry)
  • Prof. Mika Suvanto (materials/chemistry)
  • PhD Pertti Silfsten
  • PhD Yu Jiang (materials/chemistry) 
  • PhD Henri Partanen
  • PhD Toni Saastamoinen
  • PhD Pertti Pääkkönen
  • PhD student Leila Ahmadi
  • PhD student Bisrat Assefa
  • PhD student Rizwan Ali
  • PhD student Olli Ovaskainen
  • MSc student Vladislav Ananyev
  • MSc student Markku Pekkarinen
  • MSc student Dipanjan Das
  • MSc student Tanmay Mondal
  • MSc student Moeen Piracha

Former members:

  • Prof. Jani Tervo
  • PhD Ville Konturi
  • PhD  Gaurav Bose
  • PhD student Vishal Gandhi 
  • MSc Jocelyn “Kofi” Brobbey
  • MSc Indranil Basak
  • MSc Toni-Petteri Pennanen (materials/chemistry)

Externally funded projects:

  • 3D Printed Photonics – Phase I (3DPPI), Tekes, 2013-2015
  • Freeform optics from prototyping to volume production (FOPRO2), Tekes, 2015-2017
  • Three-dimensionally printed optics, Academy of Finland, 2015-2019
  • Reference algorithms and metrology on aspherical and freeform optical elements (FreeFORM), European Commission, 2016-2019


  • J. Saarinen and R. van de Vrie, “Printed optics usher in new era of manufacturing”, front page main article, EuroPhotonics Winter 2014, December 2014, pp. 18-21B.
  • K. Jocelyn, P. Pääkkönen, and J. Saarinen, “Characterization of 3D printed optical components”, OPD2014 Proceedings, Abo Akademi  University, Turku (2014)
  • B. G. Assefa, J. Tervo, and J. Saarinen, ”Freeform optics design relaxed by 3D printing”, Northern Optics & Photonics 2015 proceedings, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, p. 101 (2015)
  • I. Basak, K. Päiväsaari, J. Biskop, and J. Saarinen, ”Surface quality measurements of 3D printed optics”, Northern Optics & Photonics 2015 proceedings, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, p. 102 (2015)
  • B. G. Assefa, Y. Meuret, J. Tervo, T. Saastamoinen, M. Kuittinen, and J. Saarinen,”Evaluation of freeform lens designs for specific target distributions and fabrication using 3D printing”, The Eleventh Japan-Finland Joint Symposium on Optics in Engineering (OIE2015), University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu (2015)
  • B.G. Assefa, T. Saastamoinen, Ruud Hoosemans, M. Kuittinen, J. Turunen, and J. Saarinen, “3D printed freeform optics for specific target irradiance distributions”, OPD2016 Proceedings, Tampere University of Technology, Tampere (2016).
  • B.G. Assefa, T. Saastamoinen, M. Kuittinen, J. Turunen, and J. Saarinen, “Design, fabrication and characterization of freeform optics for LED source based specific irradiance distribution”, European Optical Society Annual Meeting (EOSAM 2016) Proceedings, Berlin (2016).
  • B.G. Assefa, T. Saastamoinen, M. Pekkarinen, T. Mondal, P. Silfsten, M. Kuittinen, J. Turunen, and J. Saarinen, “Progress in 3D-printed freeform optics”, OPD2017 Proceedings, Oulu (2017).

Academic partners (present and former):

Industrial partners (present and former):