Complex light in 3D printing
3D printing as a tool to generate complicated shapes from CAD files, on demand, with different materials from plastics to metals, is shortening product development cycles, enabling new design possibilities and can provide a mean to manufacture small volumes cost effectively. There are many technologies for 3D printing and the majority uses light in the process. In one process (Multi-jet modeling, polyjet, printoptical (c)), a printhead prints layers of ultra-violet curable liquid plastic. Here, each nozzle deposits the material, which is then flooded by a UV curing lamp to harden it. In another process (Stereolithography), a focused UV laser beam provides both the spatial localization and the photo-hardening of the resin. Similarly, laser sintering works with metal powders by locally melting the material point by point and layer by layer. When the laser delivers ultra-fast focused pulses, non-linear effects polymerize the material with high spatial resolution. In these processes, light is either focused in one spot and the part is made by scanning it or the light is expanded and covers a wide area for photopolymerization. Hence a fairly "simple" light field is used in both cases. Here, we give examples of how "complex light" brings additional level of complexity in 3D printing.