The World’s Largest Lens

While this post diverges from cinema just a tad, it’s particularly interesting to us. Duclos Lenses has been working with Formlabs for several years now, dating back to their original Form1 machine. To see such an inspiring use of modern technology compelled me to repost this quick article and share with the rest of you. Take a look and enjoy!

Today, the world’s largest lens is located in a lighthouse on Oahu, Hawaii. The Fresnel lens at Makapu’u Point, 12 feet tall, 8 feet wide, and painstakingly crafted out of of glass, has held the title since 1893.

This coming Valentine’s Day, the title will transition to a new lens: a 10-by-12-foot Fresnel lens made of interlocking 3D printed bricks. The installation, Window to the Heart, is a collaboration between Formlabs head of design Marcelo Coelho and design studio Aranda\Lasch, and is the winner of the 2018 Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition.

“Marcelo and I walked around Times Square and noticed that everyone has their camera out, photographing themselves in the light of the media around them. In this sense, Times Square is a symbol for how we experience our world,” Aranda said. “It is a physical manifestation of our culture, one dispersed and absorbed through cameras and screens.”

“The lens is what makes it all possible so we decided to design our own at the scale Times Square demands,” Coelho said.

Window to the Heart’s Fresnel design is a diffusing lens, rather than a focusing lens like that of a lighthouse or magnifying glass. Instead of projecting light, it captures it.

The installation is segmented into concentric rings that flatten a large spherical curvature while retaining its optical effect. Each individual lens is uniquely designed to act as both a brick and optical element.

“Previously, a lens of this scale would have been impossible to create,” Coelho said. “Window to the Heart serves as an example of what’s possible with the latest advances in design, materials, and fabrication.”


The lens is composed of 98 concentric rings, and each circle is made of a series of bricks 3D printed with Formlabs’ Clear Resin, which is capable of the resolution and clarity that optical elements require. The entire sculpture is composed of 1,090 bricks.

Once printed, the individual bricks require cleaning and post-curing, but do not require the laborious polishing process required from traditional lens making.

Jump over to for the original article and more great content.

4 thoughts on “The World’s Largest Lens

Leave a Reply