3D printing of ophthalmic lenses?

Luxexcel is the world leader in 3D printing of optics. The company started in 2009 and initially started to 3D print optics for illumination applications. Our unique and highly accurate technology allows us to rapidly print fully transparent materials with smooth surfaces without any polishing. Luxexcel today has a prototyping business, manufacturing optics for LED lighting, photonics, medical, aerospace, and automotive applications. Our continuous development efforts will bring us to imaging quality. We will reach ophthalmic quality in the course of this year.

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Lens production with 3D printing?

What will 3D printing bring as a manufacturing method? Conventional ophthalmic progressive 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 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. It is a game-changer for the whole industry.

Ophthalmic Lens Manufacturing Process

Luxexcel technology solution

Luxexcel has developed a unique 3D print technology without any grinding or polishing. The technology brings: On-demand printed products, ready straight out of the printer, eliminating the need for polishing and inventory of semi-finished products. The technology has the potential to disrupt many industries, one of these industries is the ophthalmic industry. The Luxexcel team is making development steps every day and we are closing in on the required quality for ophthalmic lenses.

3D printing: changes the game

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

The traditional industry has addressed these requirements by manufacturing semi-finished products in low-cost countries. The lenses are then shipped to the different markets for final processing to meet customer requirements. All at the expense of complexity in manufacturing and large inventories.
Luxexcel technology offers a much simpler solution, with a printer integrated into an ophthalmic lab requiring printing ink and generating the exact lens on the spot.

Ophthalmic Lens Manufacturing Process


Luxexcel 3D printer  

Luxexcel printing material

Luxexcel developed a material to manufacture lenses. Each lens is built from very small droplets of material which are merged together to create the lens. The material is acrylic in nature similar to typical materials used in ophthalmic lenses. Needless to say, the Luxexcel material passes the standard industry tests, like the drop ball test.  

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 on the development roadmap.  

Ophthalmic Lenses Luxexcel

Coatings on lenses 

Most spectacle glasses have coatings applied to them to protect the lens and enhance the optical performance. Optical coatings that are frequently used are Hard Coating (HC), Anti-Reflective coating (AR) and UV coating. Luxexcel provides coating solutions through its partners for both spin coating and dip coating. The proposed coating solutions pass industry standard tests for adhesion, abrasion and scratching.  

What will Luxexcel 3D printing bring to the future of ophthalmic lenses and the ophthalmic industry?  

Getting perfect lenses to fit a prescription is essential for acquiring good vision. As a spectacle wearer, you want the most out of your eyeglasses. Every eye is different and every person is different, each ophthalmic lens should be tailor made for the user. 3D printing will open up new possibilities to customize lens designs to patient requirements.     

edged lens luxexcel

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, while at the same time offering an attractive product to customers at competitive prices.  

Customization is one of the elements which can be changed by making use of 3D printing. However, other solutions and innovations are on the horizon. What will be possible is hard to predict, however 3D printing will definitely become vital to the eyewear industry, by removing design limitations and offering new features. This will open up new possibilities to create unique ophthalmic lenses and eyeglasses.   

If you are an ophthalmic lab and you would like to learn more about the latest status of our technology. Please do not hesitate to contact us.   

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