What are the available types of lenses?

Posted by Luxexcel on Oct 19, 2015 11:15:00 AM
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In this article we discuss different types of lenses, what separates the lenses from one another and what lenses suit which applications.

Types of simple lenses

There are all types of lenses. The image as shown here shown multiple variations of simple lens designs. For this part of the article we will delve into the plano-convex lens and the plano-concave lens.

Convex lenses

A plano-convex lens is flat on one side and has a curvature on the other side. This type of lens will converge a light beam. Therefore this lens is also known as a converging lens. Plano-convex lenses have a positive focal length and these lenses are used for illumination applications where light needs to be collimated.  They are used for all kinds of applications, ranging from spectacles to illumination.

If you want to create your tailor-made plano-convex lens, please check out our online tooling.


Concave lenses

If a lens is biconcave or plano-concave, a collimated beam of light passing through the lens is diverged and spread out.  Therefore this type of lens is known as a diverging lens. Concave lenses can be used for light projection or beam expansion. These lens types have a negative focal length.  Applications of the concave lenses include telescopes and binoculars, as they can be used to magnify objects.

If you want to create your tailor-made plano-concave lens, please check out our online tooling.


Convex-Concave lenses

A convex-concave lens can be either positive or negative, depending on the relative curvature of the two surfaces. A negative meniscus lens is thinner at the centre than at the periphery. A positive meniscus lens has a steeper convex surface and is thicker at the centre.

A lens with two surfaces of equal curvature would have zero optical power, meaning it would not diverge or converge light that passes through.

Other types of lenses

Besides the above mentioned lens types there are many more different types of lenses.

  • Cylindrical lenses: They have a curvature in one direction and as such are used to focus light into a line.
  • Fresnel lenses: This lens type has an optical surface broken up into narrow rings, allowing the lens to be much thinner and lighter than conventional lenses.
  • Lenticular lenses: This lens type has arrays of micro lenses. These lenses are used in lenticular printing to create images that have the illusion of depth or movement, when viewed from different angles.

Freeform optics

Traditional optics manufacturing technologies are costly and time-consuming. Custom optics are the exception, mass production is the norm. But the demands for freeform optics have only grown in the past years. Custom optics require an expensive mould, which  might be used for a short production run only. Luckily, with 3D printing a new path can be opened up for optics manufacturing. Different types of lenses can be created with 3D printing.


Printoptical ® Technology is the only 3D printing technology able to 3D print transparent products, without the need for post-processing. This technology enables you to easily manufacture an optic, adjust your design if needed and re-print, all within a couple of days. This saves you a lot of time and expenses. This takes a lot of risk out of optics design.

Care to use our Printopptical ® Technology for your business? Check out our online ordering portal. Here you can easily upload a CAD file of your design. After uploading your file you will receive an instant quote. Printoptical ® Technology is an effective way to prototype your design or do a short production run. No matter what type of lens you want, our service allows for an iterative design process.

If you want to learn more about our 3D printing service for optics first, download our free eBook, which describes the benefits of this technology for you.

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