3D Printed Lenticular Lens Makes 3D Display

[Bitluni] has been experimenting with resin printing lenses — in particular, lenticular lenses. You’ve probably seen lenticular lenses before in 3D greeting cards or children’s books. By presenting a slightly different image at different angles, your eyes perceive stereo vision giving the illusion of depth. You can see his results in the video below.

Honestly, even if you don’t want to make a display like this yourself, the demonstration of how a lenticular lens works using a laser is worth watching. Sure, you know in theory what’s going on, but seeing it visually exposed is great.

The display isn’t going to replace special effects in the next science fiction movie, but it is still pretty cool. A grid of 138 lenses and some software give a fairly credible 3D effect, at least as far as we can tell watching it on 2D YouTube and listening to his excitement upon trying it.

The final product fits in a cover that fits over a smartphone which drives the display. We were interested in the use of straight-up resin to make the back surface flat, which is an interesting trick.

Last time we looked at lenticular lenses, it was to make things invisible. We’ve also covered how they can make sort of holograms.

32 thoughts on “3D Printed Lenticular Lens Makes 3D Display

  1. Don’t think I’ve ever seen such small and functional optical elements entirely 3d printed.. Not perfect, but I have to admit better than I expected as far as the video can show at least..

    1. This is fantastic, I love the explainer portion of the video especially. Would printing in another orientation give smoother results? Or is there less difference between horizontal and vertical resolution on a resin printer vs. FDM?

      1. These types of resin printers basically print voxels, so creating lenses only works if you don’t clean them, and let the uncured resin that sticks to the printed part fill in the edges between the voxels. You could probably improve the results a little using orientation, but not a lot.

        1. Perhaps you should instead clean it really well, so those small steps are very crisp and then dip it in a thin lacquer of similar (hopefully identical) refractive index, so it will skin the subtle stepping evenly because of the surface tension…

          1. Each micro lens in a lenticular sheet is called a “lenticule”. So “lenticular” is specifically “composed of lenticules”, rather than “having the features of a lentil” (although of course “lenticule” itself then has that meaning.)

        1. Maybe Linear Convex is much more descriptive. Calling these “lenticular lenses” (A lentil shaped lentil shape) smacks of a marketing name when pitching cereal box prize cards.

          1. (Just so you get a notification too)

            If you read the wiki linked above, you’d see the actual term is a “linear array of plano-convex lenses.” If you’re going to complain about what is otherwise commonly accepted verbiage, at least do it correctly.

          2. K, the description from the page does not really cover the case in this article. A “linear array of plano-convex lenses.” is a row of single convex lenses, whereas these are only convex in the axis normal to the long dimension of the line. They are like 1/2 of a rod cut down the center. Then an array of them forms a sheet. They only produce the effect stated if the POV moves in one dimension.

        2. If you read the wiki linked above, you’d see the actual term is a “linear array of plano-convex lenses.” If you’re going to complain about what is otherwise commonly accepted verbiage, at least do it correctly.

    1. Enjoyed this very much. Would be great if it was built into smartphones & the UI changed to handle the display change, which could give all elements a 3D effect including video etc

      1. Was already done years ago during the last 3d hype period, although like the Nintendo 3DS they used LCD parallax barriers instead of lenticular overlays. That allows them to switch between 2d and 3d modes electronically.

        1. What’s cool about the (New) 3DS display is that the barriers are eye-tracking (thanks to the front camera), and thanks to that the 3D effect is visible from different angles. This works so well that I still wonder why the idea wasn’t adopted by (some) smartphones.

        1. No more gimmicky than the nintendo 3d displays. The real problem was lack of support in games and such. I found the effect to be surprisingly good when software implemented it properly. A shame it never took off because with the support refinement of the tech would have followed and we’d probably be much further along today than we are in 3d displays. It died I. Large part dye to all the naysayers killing investment in software necessary to support it properly.

          1. While I have my 3DS still, so I know what you mean about it being good when done right I don’t really think the tech is a great fit for the real world – Too many people have eye problems that mean the small shuttered screen just doesn’t work for them, and some folks don’t have real 3d vision of any sort.

            So I wasn’t surprised it didn’t really take off, its extra cost at every stage of production, so a more costly device, adds dev costs at least until something like GTK/KDE/Unity exists that makes leveraging the tech easy, and it needs more power to run the shutters, reducing battery life, which will be lacking in modern devices anyway most likely (as the quest for stupid thin and high power just isn’t that compatible). All for something lots of people can’t use, or won’t find enough of a benefit in.

            For those us of us blessed with great eye sight its a shame, but I really don’t see it making sense to push it further as a company, and probably only Nintendo have the guts to try such ‘new’ things, and skills to actually pull them off (their track record for innovation is pretty damn good over the last few generations, and other than the wii-U I’d say 100% successful. and that wasn’t crap, just too expensive for what it was)

          2. The parallax barrier is extremely cheap to make and to run – after all it’s just an old-school watch-style monochrome lcd, with the barrier either on or off, laminated onto the display LCD itself. Those things can run for years off a coin cell.

            The version in the N3DS would just be a version with a small number of interleaved sets of bars instead of 1.

  2. It’s a nice exercise in 3D printing, but one can buy lenticular lens sheets with high optical quality in bulk online. The only problem ends up being MOQ.

    I orderd a pack of 10×15 [cm] lenticular sheets a few years ago, still have some sitting around.

      1. But does make me wonder why they don’t take another crack at the 3d evo device with the latest tech. If it can be done with the relative low res of a formlabs printer surely mass producing something with better quality should be super cheap and superior

        1. Viewing angle. Pretty much makes this fixed lens version hopeless in most cases, its fun, has a great niche, but isn’t all that practical in the real world – that’s where the shuttered 3DS style screens come in, you can tune the 3d effect, and just turn it off when its in the way.

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