Creating an improved mirascope for Utah State University

Summary of the project

Our project was an attempt to improve upon a traditional Mirascope illusion, virtualizing the objects and adding movement by replacing one mirror with an LED screen.  In order to approximate the correct light reflections, we needed the pixels on the screen to send light in different directions. After much research, we turned to Luxexcel to build a matrix of hundreds of tiny prisms, designed to do just that.

The challenge

The challenge was to direct light in several different directions in a tightly controlled manner.

Problem definition

At a single point on a Mirascope’s Mirror, it reflects an infinite number of light rays in an infinite number of directions, and the rays don’t have to be the same color.  Replacing that mirror with an LED screen presents a problem; a LED Screen can only produce one color per pixel. Because it has only one color, it only represents one ray, and so travels only one direction. Therefore, the challenge is to create the smallest possible directed pixels, spaced as close together as possible. This way, we can approximate the large number of rays emitting from that region as closely as possible.

The solution

Humans continue to impressively fit more pixels into less space.  However, directed pixels, or pixels sending their light in specific directions, are an uncommon need. With Luxexcel’s help, we managed to create 1x1 mm prisms to bend light rays as they were emitted by the screen, directing them. While further analysis showed that even finer detail is needed, the 1x1 mm size is already very impressive.  

Unique project features

  • Fine detail: Due to the detailed nature of the parts, manufacturing was a challenge. Luxexcel’s precision rendered accurately down to 80 microns.
  • Design Freedom: Due to the complex nature of the highly facetted part, other prototyping methods would have been very expensive and time consuming.
  • No upfront Investments: Without the need for tooling, no working capital was lost to molds or tooling parts.
  • Clear material: Several companies offer 3D printing with transparent material, but Luxexcel can deliver it. The clarity was beautiful.

Finding fine detail manufacturing and friendly people together in Luxexcel was one of the most pleasant combinations I have experienced all year.

Bryce Walker, Senior at Utah State University

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