Luxexcel announced a new platform that could change the eyewear industry.
Many industries are in the process of digitization, and optometry is one that’s part way through. In years past, lenses were ordered by optometrists from manufacturers based on measurements taken from patients. Similarly, measurements of the patient, combined with a frame selection, were used to order a properly-sized frame to fit the lenses.
That’s how things went for decades. However, in recent times there has been interest in leveraging 3D printing’s ability to produce custom objects.
Any wearable item is potentially customizable, but mass manufacturing’s solution to that requirement is to provide a number of different standard sizes. That’s likely how much of the optometry industry operated.
The notion of 3D printing eyewear is quite enticing, and several operations have opened services to do so. The idea is to use either 3D scanning or some form of digitizable measurements to feed a generator to produce the frame. The patient can also be presented with a number of frame styles and even simulate their look on their own face using software tools.
However, there’s one issue with that approach: it produces the frames, but not the lenses. Typically the lenses are produced using conventional means and installed into the frames afterwards.
Now there may be a way to 3D print advanced lenses as well.
Luxexcels’ new VisionPlatform 7 is a manufacturing platform that integrates the two together, providing an ability to produce a fully 3D printed set of eyewear, lens and frame.
The new version of VisionPlatform allows the creation of prescription lenses along with the frames. Luxexcel explains:
“Today, Luxexcel announced its next-generation manufacturing platform, Luxexcel VisionPlatform 7, which makes it possible for businesses to integrate prescription lenses into the production of smartglasses in their manufacturing facilities. VisionPlatform 7 includes new features specifically geared towards manufacturing prescription smart lenses that are lightweight, thin, and can be used in commercial frames similar to traditional eyeglasses. The platform has been developed based on market demand and customer-specific needs for flexible yet high-performing manufacturing systems.”
Luxexcel explains the specific capabilities of the new lens features:
“VisionPlatform 7 is technology-agnostic and integrates objects such as waveguides, holographic optical elements, and liquid crystal foils during the 3D printing process. The platform includes high-tech hardware, proprietary materials, advanced software, and processes – everything required to create prescription smart eyewear on-demand. With the capabilities to manufacture prescription smart eyewear, technology companies can accelerate their Augmented Reality (AR) eyewear projects and give designers the flexibility to create the smartglasses they want.”
This is far beyond 3D printing mere custom eyewear, which itself is still a rarely seen product in the consumer space. This platform would permit manufacturers to design and deploy a service that could quickly create smartglasses that perfectly fit the wearer.
The system includes all the features normally used in smartglasses, such as a waveguide, projector and prescription lenses. Somehow Luxexcel has developed a method for bonding these different materials together in a way that allows for full function.
Luxexcel’s Chief Strategy Officer, Guido Groet, explained the importance of VisionPlatform 7:
“To manufacture a device that combines prescription and smart functions requires a combination of skills in technology and optics. It can be difficult to find this combination of skill sets in one team, so we offer this experience to our partners. We provide our customers with a complete solution to manufacture prescription smart lenses so that they can focus on developing the technologies and content for the device. With VisionPlatform™ 7, more innovative features can be added to smartglasses and the only limitation is the imagination of the designer.”
This development hints at a future where 3D printed eyewear could be a standard approach used by optometrists everywhere. The ability to produce smartglasses could encourage more product development in that area, and eventually overtake the production of conventional “dumb” eyewear.