Oct 12, 2017 | By Benedict

3D printer company Sinterit and German AR researcher Rigo Herold have collaborated on a pair of SLS 3D printed “data glasses.” The augmented reality eyewear, optimized for industrial engineering work, can also be used by deaf people.

The craze for Pokémon Go may be just about over, but use of augmented reality technology continues to grow apace—in both consumer entertainment applications and in more serious, work-related areas as well.

One of the latter areas is engineering, where the use of AR-equipped “data glasses” or "smartglasses" can help workers carry out more accurate work. But these aren’t newfangled creations like Pokémon Go or your latest Snapchat filter; they’ve existed for many years.

The problem with older data glasses is that their size and complexity often makes them incompatible with everyday engineering clothes and equipment, including protective masks and helmets. Shrinking data glasses down to a convenient size therefore represents a big opportunity for engineers to use data glasses in a safe and effective way.

That opportunity has just been snapped up by 3D printing company Sinterit and German professor Rigo Herold, whose 3D printed alternative rims for electronic eyepieces could be an important step for the industry.

“Data glasses are composed of complex, precisely positioned optical components—among others sensors and mirrors,” Herold explains. “To ensure uninterrupted sharpness of the virtual image, all optical components must be set in with the highest precision.”

As it transpired, use of regular FDM 3D printing technology wasn’t sufficient for this purpose, which led Herold to try using the Sinterit Lisa, an SLS metal 3D printer that costs less than $6,000. Use of the Lisa, Herold said, allowed him to fabricate parts of the data glasses in the way he needed.

“Due to the industrial purpose of the data glasses, it was...very important to be able to print on [the] Lisa printer both [a] short series of identical, small products, and tailored-made items for future users,” Sinterit said.

The device 3D printed on the Sinterit Lisa can be directly mounted on a helmet or “separately adjusted to be used simultaneously with other necessary equipment.”

These printed frames also have other advantages over more traditional AR goggles. Their shock-absorbing capabilities and flexibility, for example, make them compatible with protective components like masks, helmets, and sound-isolating earphones.

Herold and Sinterit’s creation has applications outside of the factory too. (Perhaps we were too quick to write off Pokémon Go!)

The 3D printed data glasses could, according to their creators, be used by deaf people in cinemas, giving them specially prepared subtitles in their field of vision. The comfortable glasses could also be used by general users for a variety of fun and practical AR applications.

3D printer company Sinterit thinks the success of this AR project shows what innovative minds can do with empowering technology like 3D printing.

“Printing the glasses on the desktop printer brought the possibility of their fast production, also on individual orders,” Sinterit said. “Such projects prove that it is worth looking for new solutions and implementing them in the immediate surroundings.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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