Interview – Robb Godshaw: 3D printed lenses without post-processing

Posted by Luxexcel on Jul 28, 2015 11:18:00 AM
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Interview – Robb Godshaw: 3D printed lenses without post-processing

The Luxexcel team interviewed Robb Godshaw on his project involving 3D printed lenses that distort views of faces. A highly creative project which makes use of Printoptical Technology.

Robb GodshawCan you introduce yourself, what is your expertise?
Robb Godshaw: I am a sculptor and robotic engineer. I am currently an Artist in Residence at Autodesk's Pier 9 workshop. I has a passion for meaningful interactions at the intersection of Design, Art, and Robotics. I have built a tiny sculpture which is being sent to the moon, a machine that makes functional pencils, and a rock that becomes the temperature of the future. My work has lately focused on social applications of optical phenomena, and tries to make strangers into friends through interactive installations. More of my work can be seen at My collaborator, Max Hawkins, is an artist and computer scientist. His work deals with the interaction between people and technology, with an emphasis on the construction of digital communities. In his free time he is working to bring art to the animal internet. His work can be seen at

Can you explain a bit more about your lens project?
Robb Godshaw: ‘Smaller and Upside Down’ is a collection of 3D-printed lenses that distort views of faces. It's like a carnival hall of mirrors, except instead of seeing yourself you see other people squished, stretched, pinched, distorted, and otherwise mixed up. Unlike mirrors, the lenses cannot be used alone. A person stands on each side and immediately experiences strange deformations of the other's face. As a public art piece, this often means that strangers are often interacting through these lenses, leading to social interactions that otherwise would not have occurred.
3D printed lens

What are the main benefits of using 3D printing/AM technologies in comparison to other more traditional manufacturing processes? What different post-processes do you normally use to create a printed optic?
Robb Godshaw: I have been CNC-milling large lenses out of PMMA/Acrylic blocks for sculptural applications for years. The process of setting up my toolpaths and cutting a lens generally takes me a day or two. The polishing process, all done by hand, can take me as much as 12 hours of continuous labor. Later, as an Artist in Residence at Autodesk's Pier 9 workshop, I had access to their fleet of high-end Objet printers capable of printing in a translucent resin. These reduced my preparation work to a few minutes, but polishing was even harder, as the resin was tough to clean. When I started using Luxexcel, the prints come off the bed perfectly clear, reducing my polishing time to zero. For me, the big advantage is time savings. An advantage I intend to take advantage of is the ability to make freeform fresnel lenses, an option I do not have with CNC or Objet printing. Some complex geometries I have not tried due to the impossibility of polishing, but the Luxexcel process eliminates that.

Which problems did you notice to create a perfect optic with common 3D printing technologies?
Robb Godshaw: With my original process, the big issue was ensuring every design would be possible to sand and polish by hand. This meant continuous curves, no overhangs, and no hard edges. This was very limiting, and I am thrilled to be able to produce arbitrary freeform optics without worry with Luxexcel.
smaller upside down project

You received lenses printed by Luxexcel, what was your opinion on them and what benefits does the Luxexcel Printoptical Technology have?
Robb Godshaw: Luxexcel prints have a clarity that is orders of magnitude above the other clear AM technologies I have seen. Additionally, the prints come off their machine fully smooth, reducing time and likelihood of error.

Any additional you would like to mention?
Robb Godshaw: My process for designing the lenses is somewhat unique. As an artist, I do not have a strong background in math or physics. After weeks of research, I found a method where I can design distorting lenses using rendering software, usually used to make realistic photos of CAD models. I 3D scanned my head using a a Matterport iPad scanner, and placed it in my model. I built a cube of virtual plastic, setting its refractive index to the Luxexcel material. I then used the T-Splines parametric freeform modeling system to sculpt my lenses with my intuition until the desired effect was met.
3d printed glasses

Would you like to learn more about the project? Please take a look at the video below.

Smaller and Upside Down from Robb Godshaw on Vimeo.

Smaller & Upside Down is a collection of 3D-printed lenses that distort views of faces.

Looking for more inspirational examples? Download the Ebook

Topics: 3D printing

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