Computational Light Routing: 3D Printed Fiber Optics for Sensing and Display


ACM Transactions on Graphics, Vol. 33, No. 3, May 2014


Thiago Pereira, Szymon Rusinkiewicz, Wojciech Matusik


Despite recent interest in digital fabrication, there are still few algorithms that provide control over how light propagates inside a solid object. Existing methods either work only on the surface or restrict themselves to light diffusion in volumes. We use multi-material 3D printing to fabricate objects with embedded optical fibers, exploiting total internal reflection to guide light inside an object. We introduce automatic fiber design algorithms together with new manufacturing techniques to route light between two arbitrary surfaces. Our implicit algorithm optimizes light transmission by minimizing fiber curvature and maximizing fiber separation while respecting constraints such as fiber arrival angle. We also discuss the influence of different printable materials and fiber geometry on light propagation in the volume and the light angular distribution when exiting the fiber. Our methods enable new applications such as surface displays of arbitrary shape, touch-based painting of surfaces and sensing a hemispherical light distribution in a single shot.


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