Br J Ophthalmol 98:159-161 doi:10.1136/bjophthalmol-2013-304446
  • Innovations

Innovations in 3D printing: a 3D overview from optics to organs

Editor's Choice
  1. Larry A Donoso1
  1. 1Department of Ophthalmology, Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2Department of Engineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Larry A Donoso, Department of Ophthalmology, Wills Eye Hospital, PO Box 53429, Philadelphia, PA 19105, USA; ldonoso{at}
  • Received 8 October 2013
  • Accepted 3 November 2013
  • Published Online First 28 November 2013


3D printing is a method of manufacturing in which materials, such as plastic or metal, are deposited onto one another in layers to produce a three dimensional object, such as a pair of eye glasses or other 3D objects. This process contrasts with traditional ink-based printers which produce a two dimensional object (ink on paper). To date, 3D printing has primarily been used in engineering to create engineering prototypes. However, recent advances in printing materials have now enabled 3D printers to make objects that are comparable with traditionally manufactured items. In contrast with conventional printers, 3D printing has the potential to enable mass customisation of goods on a large scale and has relevance in medicine including ophthalmology. 3D printing has already been proved viable in several medical applications including the manufacture of eyeglasses, custom prosthetic devices and dental implants. In this review, we discuss the potential for 3D printing to revolutionise manufacturing in the same way as the printing press revolutionised conventional printing. The applications and limitations of 3D printing are discussed; the production process is demonstrated by producing a set of eyeglass frames from 3D blueprints.

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