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Lenticular Lenses: Working Principle and Its Advantages and Disadvantages

Lenticular Lenses: Working Principle and Its Advantages and Disadvantages
The lenticular lenses have been in use for a century now. Technology could help millions who need corrective lenses. The lenses are simple in principle, but used in complex applications.
Tanaya Navalkar
Last Updated: Feb 28, 2018
Did You Know?
  • A French painter, Gois-Clair used a technique similar to lenticular lenses to create a multidimensional effect.
  • The first lenticular lenses were produced in 1930 by Victor Anderson, mainly for advertisements and promotions.
Lenticular lenses is an age-old technique that has evolved immensely over the years, and is being used even today. It is basically an assortment of magnifying lenses arranged in such a way that you can see different images magnified when viewed from different angles. You may remember some pictures or posters that gave out a 3D effect when you moved around or changed the viewing angle, e.g. a hologram. The technology used was lenticular printing, in which lenticular lenses produce printed images with an illusion or multiple images. These days, this technology is being used in 3D televisions, gaming systems, and even in eyeglasses to curb extreme vision problems.

Let's have a look at lenticular lenses in detail.
Lenticular lens is completely different from holograms. Holograms have to be viewed in proper lighting and angles; whereas, lenticular technology uses a full spectrum of colors that is visible in all conditions, and is more detailed and visible. Lenticular technology involves exhibiting numerous sets of images, which change when being viewed from different angles. Illusion of depth or motion is the result of this technique. It is one of the techniques in which 3D images or videos are created. It can be best described as transformation of steady print into a dynamic and interactive print.

Let us see how lenticular lenses work.
Principle of Lenticular Lenses
Lenticular lens working
Working of Lenticular Lenses
  • It is done by interlacing graphics with a lenticular lens, which in turn, gives different images to the viewer depending upon the viewing angle. Interlacing means that the images are divided into strips, and then, combined into one graphic.
  • To create a lenticular image, at least, two images are needed.
  • The lenticular plastic sheet has one smooth side, where the graphic is printed directly, and the other side is made of lenticules.
  • Each lenticule will act as a magnifying glass, which when viewed from a different angle, magnifies and displays the part of the interlaced image below.
  • If the lenticules are oriented vertically, then, a different image with two frames can be seen at the same time. Each eye sees a different frame, which gives out a 3D effect.
  • If the lenticules are oriented horizontally, it results in a better and cleaner animated effect.
  • The thickness and viewing angle of the lenticules may vary.
Lenticular Sheet
Lenticular sheet
Interlacing of Sheets
Lenticular lens
Lenticular Lens 3D Effect
Lenticular lens
The most common applications of lenticular lenses are:
  • 3D displays
  • Signage
  • Product packaging
  • Magazine inserts
  • Corrective lenses in eyeglasses (Bifocals)
Lenticular Lenses in Eyeglasses
Lenticular lenses are mostly used in eyeglasses to rectify extreme farsightedness when implants are not feasible. This type of farsightedness may be a result of cataract surgery. The 'minus lenticular' lens, which is similar to the former, is used to rectify extreme nearsightedness. The power of the lens is concentrated into a small area in the lens's center. If the power is distributed throughout the lens, then, it would result in greater weight and thickness of the lens. The rest of the lens has little or no power, and is present just to support the lenticular portion. Lenticular lenses, typically, include only two different magnifications. One area of the lens has one refractive corrective power, whereas, the other area has different power. In case of farsightedness, the person's pupils appear larger than normal due to the design of the glasses, and smaller than normal in case of nearsightedness.

Bifocals are another type of lenticular lenses that were invented in the late 1700s. They are not for people with extreme cases of poor eyesight, but for people with a bit of both farsightedness and nearsightedness. In a typical bifocal lens, the upper part of the lens aids far-sighted vision, while the lower portion aids near-sighted vision.
Lenticular Lenses Vs. Progressive Lenses
Although it serves the same purpose, lenticular and progressive lenses work differently. Bifocal lenses have two areas of vision correction. Progressive lenses correct vision for both farsightedness and nearsightedness without any 'visible' lines of bifocal or trifocals lenses. They are an alternative to bifocals. It provides more natural vision correction. The focus can easily be changed from near to far and vice versa.

The disadvantages of progressive lenses are that they take a little longer to adapt to progressiveness; it may take a few hours to few weeks. For those who can't adjust to progressive lenses, lined bifocals are the best option. Progressive lenses are a bit more expensive than lined bifocals.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The advantages are:
  • Lenticular lenses are helpful to the people suffering from extreme vision problems.
  • They are what make the 3D images happen because of which there won't be any need for glasses to get the 3D effect.
  • Lenticular technology is now being utilized in lenticular printing, which is specially prepared graphics designed to work with a lenticular lens. It has found its way into almost everything you can imagine, from the smallest cards to the largest posters.
The disadvantages are:
  • There are only a few spots where images are perfectly clear and consistent. Changing your viewing angle slightly might distort the image or video.
  • Lenticular eyeglasses may not always be flattering to the person wearing it.

Lenticular lens is also called "fried egg" because of its resemblance to one i.e. a hemisphere on top of a flat surface. The hemisphere is the lens and the 'flat surface' is the carrier lens that has little or no power at all, and is present to support the rest of the glass frame. So, that was a brief overview about lenticular lenses that you should know about.
Man with spectacles and tattoo
Tattooed man with spectacles
Portrait of mature woman in spectacles, laughing