How will the interactive objects of tomorrow be manufactured?

Printed Optics is a design and manufacturing approach where the form and interactive functions of an object are created simultaneously using optical 3D printing technology. Sensing, display and illumination elements are printed within a physical model to create highly personalized interactive toys, devices, and objects.

This technology uses a clear photopolymer resin to create optical elements layer-by-layer. Internal structures are carefully designed using light pipes and reflective bubbles to guide light from point to point. These structures enable light to be redirected from displays to create embedded screens on physical objects, to illuminate internal areas of a model for volumetric displays, and to design any number of customized sensor and interface elements.

Printed Optics is part of a long-term vision for the production of interactive devices that are entirely 3D printed. Future devices can be fabricated on demand with user-specific form and functionality.


Willis, K., Brockmeyer, E., Hudson, S., Poupyrev, I. Printed Optics: 3D Printing of Embedded Optical Elements for Interactive Devices. In Proceedings of UIST 2012, ACM. pp. 589-598 [PDF].

Team and Credits

Printed Optics project was concieved and developed at Disney Research Pittsburgh in collaboration with Karl WillisEric Brockmeyer and Scott Hudson.


Best Demo Award at the ACM UIST 2012 Conference.

Best Paper Award Nomination at the ACM UIST 2012 Conference.