Luxexcel 3D printing technology developed in 2009, is an additive fabrication process for 3D printing functional lenses. The Luxexcel VisionPlatform™ is fundamentally different from traditional ophthalmic lens fabrication methods, which begin with semifinished lens blanks then grind and polish the lens, producing a lot of waste material as a result. Luxexcel technology 3D prints the lenses which are optically clear and smooth and immediately ready for coating processes when they leave the 3D printer.

Lens production with 3D printing

Conventional ophthalmic lens production involves multiple machining steps in which material is subtracted from a lens blank through grinding, polishing, and edging. For years this technology has been used in the ophthalmic industry. The results are good quality lenses but at the expense of high inventory, complex finishing and a significant waste of material. The alternative to this method, additive manufacturing through 3D printing, is a new concept for the ophthalmic industry.

The launch of this technology is not aimed to enter into mass market solutions or compete with the price with legacy lenses. The primary goal is to add value for the users, primarily independent ophthalmic labs - by enabling- them to offer unique products to their customers.

Once the lens design in Luxexcels’ VisionMaster™ Software - including the design and surface prescription - is prepared for printing, the proprietary liquid material called VisionClear™ is loaded into the printer and the correct print settings are applied.. The Luxexcel VisionMaster™ allows ophthalmic labs and eye care professionals to design custom lenses for their patients. After the design is ready for print, the liquid material is loaded into the printer and the correct print settings and resolution are applied.

The Luxexcel objective is to ‘change the way ophthalmic lenses are made’ and create unique new eyeglasses not possible with legacy technology. This goal will be primarily achieved through close partnerships with independent ophthalmic labs.

In the infographic below one may learn more about the process.

Flow Luxexcel 3D printer

The Process - How it Works

The Luxexcel  3D printer, VisionEngine™, 3D prints lenses by jetting tiny droplets of a UV-curable resin onto the substrate and curing it with UV-light. The print resin, an acrylic -based material, is deposited in several passes until the desired shape has been created. During the process, the droplets flow and merge when they hit the surface, thus creating various lens shapes and features with optimal clarity and functionality. By delaying the time between the deposit of the droplet and the curing, the Luxexcel VisionClear™ material is given some time to flow and to form the smooth optical surfaces under natural surface tension. As of now, we print at a speed of 4 lenses/per hour, after the printing process, the lenses they do not require grinding or polishing. They are immediately ready to be coated.

3D printing: game changer

3D printing has already brought a revolution to a number of different industries. A frequently used example is the hearing aid industry. Within 5 years the main manufacturing technology has shifted from casting and manual finishing to 3D printing. Now, most hearing aids are 3D printed to specific customer needs. The eyewear industry is in many ways similar: custom products with a requirement for quick turnaround times at a competitive price.

The traditional ophthalmic industry has addressed these requirements by manufacturing semi-finished lenses in low-cost countries. The lenses are shipped for final processing to meet the customer's specific requirements. This method requires complexity in manufacturing and large inventories, which would be unnecessary if products were created only as needed, and exactly as needed.
Luxexcel technology offers a much simpler solution by integrating a 3D print platform into an ophthalmic lab which only requires printing material to generate the required lens on the spot.

Ophthalmic Lens Manufacturing Process

Figure 1. Standard lens manufacturing process with multiple grinding and polishing steps

3D printing manufacturing technology will bring new levels of efficiency to the ophthalmic lab and will enable labs to operate without the burden of large inventory, large investments and long lead times from suppliers and to customers, and offer customized products. By removing design limitations and offering ophthalmic labs the freedom to create revolutionary lens designs, the Luxexcel VisionPlatform™ will change the way ophthalmic lenses are manufactured.

It is not our intention to disrupt existing process and workflows, but the strongest intention to ‘change the way ophthalmic lenses are made’ by collaborating with ophthalmic labs and provide new production tools and more design freedom to the ophthalmic industry.

Luxexcel material

Luxexcel developed a novel optical material, called Luxexcel VisionClear™, to manufacture lenses. Each lens is built from very small droplets which are seamlessly merged together to create the lens. The material is similar to typical materials used in ophthalmic lenses today. Needless to say, the VisionClear material passes the standard industry tests, like the drop ball test. The material is also ISO 8980-1:2004 Focal Power compliant. 

The material has an Abbe number of 45 and a Refractive Index (RI) of 1.53. The specific weight is 1,15 g/cm3 lighter than most ophthalmic materials. Additional materials with higher refractive index are listed on the development roadmap.

Lens coatings

Like most spectacle lenses Luxexcel lenses may have coatings applied to protect the lens and enhance the optical performance. Optical coatings frequently used are Hard Coatings (HC),  Anti-Reflective coatings (AR) and UV coatings. 

The possibilities with this new method of production are virtually unlimited, we welcome companies with products for the ophthalmic industry to join us with ideas and product needs. 

If you are an ophthalmic lab and you would like to learn more about this technology. Please contact us. 

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