Optics is the branch of physics which involves the behavior and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of instruments that use or detect it. Optics usually describes the behavior of visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light. Because light is an electromagnetic wave, other forms of electromagnetic radiation such as X-rays, microwaves, and radio waves exhibit similar properties. These days, additive manufacturing of optics is on the rise. Like any industry, digitization of the optics industry is around the corner. And along with that, new ways of developing and applying optics are arriving.

Practical Optics: Rays on Travel
Most optical phenomena can be accounted for using the classical electromagnetic description of light. Complete electromagnetic descriptions of light are, however, often difficult to apply in practice. Practical optics is usually done using simplified models. The most common of these, geometric optics, treats light as a collection of rays that travel in straight lines and bend when they pass through or reflect from surfaces.

Physical Optics: diffraction and interference
Physical optics is a more comprehensive model of light, which includes wave effects such as diffraction and interference that cannot be accounted for in geometric optics. Historically, the ray-based model of light was developed first, followed by the wave model of light. Progress in electromagnetic theory in the 19th century led to the discovery that light waves were in fact electromagnetic radiation.

Light as Wave or Particle
Some phenomena depend on the fact that light has both particle and wave-like properties. Explanation of these effects requires quantum mechanics. When considering light’s particle-like properties, the light is modelled as a collection of particles called “photons”. Quantum optics deals with the application of quantum mechanics to optical systems.

Optical Science
Optical science is relevant to and studied in many related disciplines including astronomy, various engineering fields, photography, and medicine (particularly ophthalmology and optometry). Practical applications of optics are found in a variety of technologies and everyday objects, including mirrors, lenses, telescopes, microscopes, lasers, and fibre optics.

Printed Optics
We follow and support with great interest the developments around inventive ‘Additive Optics Fabrication‘: production of custom optics by using inventive 3D printing technologies. From time to time, you will see updates on this blog on further developments and advancements of 3D printing of custom optics for a broad variety of illumination applications, such as general lighting, automotive lighting, and many more.

It is our expectation that 3D printing will go mainstream in so many industries and will affect and change the overall engineering, manufacturing and application of products. Stay tuned for more updates!