Can we print light?

 

3D printing is the buzzword on every self-respecting tech fan’s lips at the moment. It’s even possible to print houses now.

But what do printing innovations mean for light? And is it just 3D printing we should be investigating for our latest light bulb, or should we be looking at other printing solutions too?

 

Philips recently announced the 3D Hue Luminaires , a series of light bulbs that integrate the latest innovations in 3D printing with cutting edge design and Hue technology. But considering the fact that 3D printers themselves are slowly becoming more available to home consumers, it’s not at all difficult to imagine a near future where we print out lights to our exact requirements and specifications.

Perhaps more importantly, however, are the new options printing technology offers us for working with light sources. For example, Disney recently showed off their prototypes of illuminated 3D printed toys

 

These toys demonstrated that 3D printing makes it possible for lights – and other technology – to be integrated into items without needing small parts that might cause a choking hazard. So not only are they cute toys in their own right, but they get around a long-standing problem of integrating technology with safety for the little ones.

Of course, it’s not only toys that can be made using the latest printing technology. How about a jacket integrated with solar panels?

Thanks to 3D printing it’s become possible to produce extremely thin solar energy cells, which can then be printed on to everything from plastic to fabric. This could be incorporated into a self-sustaining item of clothing that uses the power of the sun to charge your personal electronic devices. Never have a dead phone battery again!

Printing technology isn’t just for those with access to expensive 3D printers, however. Thanks to nanotechnology it’s possible to print technology directly onto a piece of paper or cardboard. A bit more 2D, perhaps, but the benefit here is that you can adapt your existing printer to do it.

Imagine being able to print a functioning light on to a piece of paper. You’d be able to design your own ‘light shades’, with the added benefit being that you wouldn’t even need a lamp or additional bulb to produce light.

 

Of course, if you’re truly artistic and prefer drawing in real life to drawing on computers, you could even try this 3D printing pen. Imagine being able to draw your own light!

 

If you could print any kind of light using 3D printing or nanoprinting, what would you create? Or maybe you already have a 3D printer and you’ve had a go at creating your own lights?

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