3D Printed Optics Make Curvy Touchscreens a Reality

by Matthew Wellington on November 8, 2013

Papillon Curved 3D Printed ScreensUp until now, curvy touchscreens have been just a dream for most people.

But thanks to the Disney Research which was carried out in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the invention of 3D printed optical fibers have now made it possible for devices to contain curved imagery.

With this new technique, famously known as Papillon, it will no longer be a requisite for all display devices to have flatscreens. Actually Papillon is a great symbol marking the start of a new era, from flat screens to curvy screens.

So how is this possible? The Disney Research Papillon solution that has made curvy touchscreens a reality all lies with their discovery of 3D Printed Optics. The 3D printed optics are entirely fiber optics, inserted into the objects or devices which are required to have curvy display touchscreens. The fiber optics from the devices are the ones responsible for creating displays of images or messages.

The fibers are designed to appear in a tube-like shape with most of them being very small up to 250 microns (read more about 3D Printing on a Tiny Scale). That is practically no bigger than the diameter of the human hair. Well the most interesting part is that Disney is able to use 3D printing technology to print and embed these fiber optics into any solid device.

When fabricating a device, an image source is also inserted within the object. Since the fiber optics can display images at their end points, different images and patterns will be displayed by the devices depending on the image source embedded. Therefore on the outside, a person will only be seeing the displayed images because the fiber optics and the image source are virtually impossible to see as they fit deep inside the device.

Changes Brought by Papillon

Before the Papillon technique which proved that curvy touchscreens could indeed become a reality, display objects and devices had to be assembled. Previously it was really nearly impossible to produce a such a device.

The only feasible way was to manufacture the different essential parts separately and thereafter assemble them to come up with the final piece.

Now however, Papillon will change the manufacturing of such devices. Interactive devices will from now on be printed as a whole and not necessarily need to be assembled. The technique allows designers to print objects together with the screens so you don’t have worry about attaching the screen after manufacturing is complete.

In this new additive manufacturing technique, a 3D printer will be used to create the main structure of the gadget. The main structure will contain a curved surface expected to be the curved touchscreen. The 3D printer will additionally be used to make optical fibers from a light-sensitive translucent surface better known as a Photopolymer.

Bear in mind that there will be an image source deeply fitted into the structure of the gadget. It is from this image source that the optical fibers will now project pictures to the curved surface (touchscreen).

So far, a number of striking 3D plastic objects have already been fabricated with rounded animated eyeballs displaying some beautiful patterns and imagery.

Benefits of This Tech Advancement

Papillon has been warmly embraced by many 3D connoisseurs because it opens up a world of greater creativity and generally better devices or gadgets especially when it comes to aesthetics. For a long time, flatscreens have been the only option forcing designers to bear with the limitations of the same.

3D curvy touchscreens will now provide room for heightened creativity and likely, fabrication of better looking gadgets than the conventional ones. Designers will now have fewer limitations when creating display objects because there will be no more rigid mandatory object constructions needed for flatscreen use.

Since designers will now be able to print devices and gadgets in their entireties, there is no limit to what can be created using the 3D printing technology. Actually, with Papillon, any object or device that can be fabricated from 3D printing can be designed to have a curvy touchscreen.

What this means is that people can come up with all sorts of different devices with unique designs and screens with the only limit being their imagination. All 3D printed objects, both for home and office use, can be converted into display devices thanks to this new technique.

Remember that the devices you create do not have to be rectangular in order for a flatscreen to be fixed. With the practical possibility of curvy touchscreens, you can essentially turn any device into a display gadget.

On top of all that, the Papillon technique will make it even easier to create your own customized display gadgets how ever you want them to appear like. For businesses that have their own commercialised 3D printers, this can be a doorway for attracting more customers as such companies will be able to create better customized display objects and devices according to the needs and preferences of their customers.


Despite the fact that it may take a while for the technique to be fully perfected and that 3D printing is yet to entirely become mainstream, there is no doubt that Papillon has made the future more bright as far as display devices and gadgets are concerned.

For everyone who’s been thinking of how to make better display devices, this innovation can enable you to create outstanding gadgets. Imagine, designing your own devices with curvy touchscreens in the comfort of your home using your 3D printer. That’s just how simple it could be!

What’s more is that the innovation can quickly be turned into an exceptional way of Making Money Using 3D Printing by creating eye catching and stunning display gadgets that the world has never seen before. Overall, the point here is there are a whole lot of design potential that this new technology is going to unleash.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jason King November 20, 2013 at 9:05 pm

This is a test comment for Abdul…


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