While companies like Protos Eyewear are attempting to make made-to-order 3D-printed frames, Dutch company LUXeXceL wants to print you fully 3D printed functional eyewear using its "Printoptical Technology."
Founded in 2009, Dutch startup LUXeXceL's proprietary well patented Printoptical Technology allows them to develop and manufacture optical solutions for the LED industry using 3D printing. The technology is enabling the additive manufacturing of optically smooth surfaces and full color structures without the necessity for post processing like polishing, grinding and coloring the product after printing.
For demonstrating their new Printoptical 3D printing method, LUXeXceL recently 3D-printed complete pairs of eyeglasses with smooth functional lenses and frame made in just one print job.
For the special Event of LUXeXceL's CEO meeting the company showed these world's first 3D printed functional eyeglasses to the Dutch royalty, King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima. This is a great example showing how digital industrial manufacturing can change the way glasses are being made.
Printoptical Technology is a process that allows optics fabrication by one-step CAD-to-Optic manufacturing. The system is based on proven wide-format industrial inkjet printing equipment which is modified to enable the Printoptical process. Transparent droplets of a UV-curable polymer are jetted and then cured by strong UV-lamps which are integrated onto the print head. The results of the process are geometric or freeform shapes that may include transparent prisms or lenses, as well as full color 3D graphics and textures.
The key element of the technology is the piezoelectric controllable print head, which provides a resolution of 1,440 dpi or greater. Even though the material is deposited in discrete drops, the resulting surface is smooth. This is accomplished by delaying the time between the jetting of the droplets and the application of UV light, which gives the polymer time to flow and for each droplet to lose its spherical form. Optical quality surfaces are achieved with no post processing.
The company's primary focus is that of creating optics for LEDs. According to LUXeXceL, new energy-saving LED fixtures can be brought onto the market faster, cheaper and with greater flexibility. In addition, Printoptical Technology will also become a basic technology for many other target markets. LUXeXceL is also partnering with the Institute of Photonics at the University of Eastern Finland to offer rapid prototyping of optical components for prototypes and short-run batches.
When being asked how much a pair of 3D printed eyeglasses would cost, the Founder and CEO Richard van de Vrie said the price is now unknown. "We need to first further develop it until it is perfect then we would know how much it would cost."
This technology is capable of delivering complex, optically smooth surfaces with no post-processing, no other 3D-printing method can do that, and it can create a very wide range of output both symmetrical lenses and "freeform" shapes that would be very expensive or impossible to create with other processes.
This new Base Technology will change the game in the whole optical landscape, and we may expect that it will become a major Optics process in the future, added van de Vrie.
Watch below a short report from Omroep Zeeland (In Dutch only):
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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Jeff wrote at 9/5/2013 5:57:02 PM:
It looks like this could print fresnel lenses failrly cheaply, yet customised to a given magification, focal length and astigmatizm. If so, that could really change prescription eyeware for those whith high prescriptions.