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After Facebook announce Project Aria AR smart glasses, Luxexcel set to expand

Luxexcel, a specialist in the 3D printing of lenses for prescription glasses, has announced plans to grow further into the smart glasses market with a revamped leadership team.

Recently at Facebook Connect further details of Project Aria were provided, however, no public announcement about Luxexcel’s involvement was forthcoming.

The company’s previously developed proprietary technology is able to integrate smart features into eyewear lenses, resulting in “fashionable smart glasses”. The idea is that its customers – technology companies – will be able to manufacture their smart eyewear products while also providing vision correction functionality for users that may need it.

Fabio Esposito, CEO of Luxexcel, explains: “Our mature volume manufacturing solution enables our customers to combine prescription with smart technology to create regular-looking lenses with advanced smart features, yet personalized to the user’s prescription requirements. The platform is scalable and offers the flexibility to create large volumes of products with individualized specifications, such as prescription power.”

Luxexcel's 3D printed prescription lenses. Photo via Luxexcel.
Luxexcel’s 3D printed prescription lenses. Photo via Luxexcel.

The Luxexcel 3D printing platform

Luxexcel’s platform encompasses all of the components needed to 3D print prescription lenses, including proprietary hardware, software, and materials. The technology works by jetting an acrylic-based resin – VisionClear – onto a build plate, before curing it under UV light. Dubbed the VisionEngine, the machine is able to print on a number of different materials such as polymers and glasses (meaning it is compatible with off-the-shelf frames), and also serves to fulfill the air gap requirements of users.

The company’s clients can embed smart devices such as waveguides, holographic films, and LCD screens directly in the lens between the layers, with the prescription power printed on or around the ‘smart layer’. The resulting sandwich assembly means that users no longer need to wear their clunky prescription glasses underneath their smart AR goggles, as the product functions as both.

With multiple rounds of funding behind it, the technology is intended as an alternative to the conventional method of lens production, which involves multiple subtractive machining steps as well as polishing. According to the company, this traditional process is highly inefficient, with material waste in the region of 80%. The approach is also a very labor-intensive one, with relatively low throughput – a stark contrast to the highly digitized process offered by Luxexcel.

A 3D printed lens with an embedded active foil. Photo via Luxexcel.
A 3D printed lens with an embedded active foil. Photo via Luxexcel.

Collaborations in the smart eyewear sector

Although the firm is unable to comment on its current partnerships due to NDAs, it has stated that it does indeed work with “many of the leaders” in the smart glasses sector. The one that springs to mind is Facebook, with its Project Aria – an AR eyewear set recently unveiled at the company’s Connect 2020 event. Starting this month, around 100 Facebook employees will trial the glasses by wearing them throughout the day in public.

One of the earliest smart eyewear collaborations was with AR headset developer Vuzix, whereby Luxexcel 3D printed a range of prescription lenses for use with the Vuzix Blade AR Smart Sunglasses. More recently, the company also celebrated its partnership with non-profit organization IFB Solutions by providing free 3D printed prescription eyewear to seventeen school children in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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Featured image shows Luxexcel’s 3D printed prescription lenses. Photo via Luxexcel.

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