How 3D printing prescription lenses enable the new wave of wearables


by Guido Groet – Chief Strategy Officer Luxexcel

“I was standing at one of our 3D printing machines the other day and thought back at how far we’ve come in the development of smart glasses”.

In the last decade, we’ve seen Google Glass and Snapchat Spectacles launched in the market. They all promised to bring smart eyewear to the masses. Yet, none of them has managed to make a breakthrough.

Developers stumbled upon several challenges with the introduction of smart eyewear to consumers. Challenges ranged from social acceptance (the glasses were bulky and obtrusive), usability, and most importantly, they didn’t make adequate provision for people who need prescription glasses.

Today, every major technology company is developing a smart glasses solution. None of them want to miss what is generally considered as the next revolution in consumer devices. Luxexcel works with big tech companies to make better smartglasses that address the vision correction needs of their customers. We’re the only company in the world that 3D prints smart prescription lenses, and this gives us a unique advantage to help smartglasses developers make better products.

What’s the key to our success?
We’ve developed a 3D printing solution that embeds smart devices, such as holographic films, LCD screens, and waveguides inside of our prescription lenses, and encase the smart-tech in our lens material as we print. The lens becomes smaller and thinner and fits into conventional eyewear, which means that end-users no longer have to endure bulky smart glasses! We print on many different materials including plastic and glass types, and we’re able to fulfill in smartglasses developers’ print features requirements such as airgaps and prisms.

4 Benefits of using 3D printing to manufacture smart lenses

1. Enables vision correction: Today, 4 billion users or 60% of the world population require vision correction. It’s nearly impossible for smartglasses manufacturers to stock everyone’s vision correction requirements so prescription needs to be made on-demand. At the same time, smartglass developers need to combine smart-tech, as well as prescription power in smartglasses to enable users to see their best. We provide the technology to manufacture a lens that has dual functionality: smart features, as well as vision correction.

2. Normal form factor: Although today’s smartglasses are functional, wearing it certainly isn’t presentable or fashionable. With our 3D printing technology, it’s possible to make smartglasses that look like everyday eyewear.

3. Manufacturability:
We provide customers with a complete manufacturing platform to volume manufacture smart glasses that look like normal glasses while including the user’s prescription power. Our platform allows the operator to request the lens, click print, and step away to perform another task. The platform does all of this while applying in full the principles of lean manufacturing: reduction of waste, reduction of inventory, increase of labor productivity, and efficiency.

4. Durability: Smart devices can be sensitive, complex pieces of plastic or glass that easily break or scratch during normal use. When we encase smart devices in our lens material during the printing process, it becomes fully protected and durable, ensuring not only a fashionable form factor but also a piece of eyewear that we can use like we would a traditional piece.

Innovation is enabling eyewear as a wearable
I’m very excited about the current developments in smartglass development. We see more that smartglass developers are including prescription at the start of the design process while creating a product which we all want to wear and can stand the rigors of everyday life.

I believe that 3D printing is the big breakthrough smartglass developers have been searching for. The technology has matured to provide the unique opportunity to embed smart technology inside a prescription lens enabling the ultimate, smarter user experience. Moreover, 3D printing enables volume manufacturing, which means that smartglasses with vision correction will soon be available to the mass-consumer market.

Smart photochromic lenses

About the author
Guido Groet is the Chief Strategy Officer at Luxexcel. As the worldwide pioneer in 3D printing of prescription lenses, Luxexcel has a unique understanding of the smart prescription eyewear market. Contact Guido Groet

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