Visit for Research Project Printoptics

November 13,2018

The company Karl Storz, a specialist for endoscopes and medical devices, visited us last week. In the DemoLab, the application and demonstration laboratory of Nanoscribe GmbH, the progress of the joint project "Printoptics" was shown and discussed. Together with Nanoscribe, the project partners 4th Physics Institute and Institut für Technische Optik at the University of Stuttgart and Karl Storz are working on the miniaturization of medical endoscopes and other monolithic optical systems. Manufacturing processes based on Nanoscribe's 3D microprinting technology are being developed for remarkably filigree optical systems.

The 3-year research project "Printopics", funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), started in summer 2016. For the first time, 3D microprinting makes it possible to produce high-quality miniature optical systems with submicrometer details, which would be almost impossible or completely uneconomical to manufacture by assembling individual micro-optics. In the development of such optical components, Nanoscribe’s technology is used to print extremely small and powerful optics directly onto glass fibers. The process is ideally suited for rapid prototyping of high-precision parts and future serial production of novel, high-precision products, for example in biomedical engineering, microoptics or micromechanics.

Highest imaging quality for the smallest endoscopes

The direct printing of high-quality optics on glass fibers opens up new perspectives for endoscopic systems, which become even more filigree. This should lead so far that they can also be used for the inspection of cavities with a diameter of less than 2 millimeters. Previously, this was not possible with the required optical precision. For medicine, this would open up completely new possibilities for minimally invasive procedures.

The ongoing "Printoptics" project has already demonstrated that Nanoscribe's printing technology is suitable for the manufacturing of high-quality endoscopic miniature systems, including illumination optics. Now, work is in progress to ensure that the miniature optics can be mass-produced. The project, which runs until mid-2019, will also identify other attractive applications in addition to endoscopy, such as measurement technology.

Model of a triplet optical system with diffractive element. Thanks to Nansocribe's 3D printing technology, the manufacturing of micro-endoscopes will be possible in the future. © Universität Stuttgart/ PI 4

Further information on the "Printoptics" research project can be found on the Photonikforschung website (German only).

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