Research Papers in Physics and Astronomy


Date of this Version



Published in Ultramicroscopy 205 (2019), pp 70–74.

doi 10.1016/j.ultramic.2019.05.013


Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. Used by permission.


We show images produced by an electron beam deflector, a quadrupole lens and a einzel lens fabricated from conducting and non-conducting plastic using a 3D printer. Despite the difficulties associated with the use of plastics in vacuum, such as outgassing, poor conductivity, and print defects, the devices were used successfully in vacuum to steer, stretch and focus electron beams to millimeter diameters. Simulations indicate that much smaller focus spot sizes might be possible for such 3D-printed plastic electron lenses taking into account some possible surface defects. This work was motivated by our need to place electron optical components in difficult-to-access geometries. Our proof-of-principle demonstration opens the door to consider 3D-printed electron microscopes, whose reduced cost would make such microscopes more widely available. Potentially, this may have a significant impact on electron beam science and technology in general and electron microscopy in particular.