New Technique Could Enable 3D Printed Contact Lenses

By on November 21st, 2014 in research

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Researchers at Princeton University have developed a technique for 3D printing multiple materials that could prove quite interesting. 

The problem being solved is the inability to mix unlike materials in a single print. They say: 

To date, 3D printing has been limited to specific plastics, passive conductors, and a few biological materials. Here, we show that diverse classes of materials can be 3D printed and fully integrated into device components with active properties. 

And so they’ve demonstrated the viability of their new process by “interweaving” five different materials using micro fabrication:

  • Emissive semiconducting inorganic nanoparticles
  • Elastomeric matrix
  • Organic polymers as charge transport layers
  • Solid and liquid metal leads
  • UV-adhesive transparent substrate layer

But wait, this is the best part: the demonstration object they attempted to build was Quantum Dot based LEDs, and they demonstrated the ability to print them on a curvilinear surface. This means the process could theoretically enable 3D printing of contact lenses with embedded displays. 

Such devices could be revolutionary in a way that Google Glass was not. When you’re wearing Google Glass, everyone knows it and social conditions change. However, QD-LED equipped contact lenses might not be detectable. 


By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!