Computational light routing: 3D printed optical fibers for sensing and display

Thiago Pereira, Szymon Rusinkiewicz, Wojciech Matusik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number24
JournalACM Transactions on Graphics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


  • 3D printing
  • Optical fibers


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