Luxexcel, a specialist in 3D printed prescription lenses, has partnered with reflective waveguide display developer Lumus to co-develop a prototype of a 3D printed augmented reality-ready (AR) prescription lens.
Aimed at tech firms operating in the smart eyewear space, the demonstrator product combines a reflective waveguide, projector, and a prescription lens in one package. The 3D printed lens is designed to be thin, durable, and indistinguishable from a standard eyewear lens, all while integrating AR functionality.
“Lumus is thrilled to partner with Luxexcel, a real innovator in the optics space, on this proof of concept joining two distinct and complementary innovations that make AR glasses truly practical and ready for the consumer market,” said Dr. Eli Glikman, Chief Product Officer of Lumus. “Luxexcel’s focus on quality and scalability for their 3D printed prescription lenses make their solution a very promising path for integrating RX for our current 2D expansion reflective waveguides.”
Luxexcel’s 3D printing technology
The conventional method of manufacturing lenses involves around 30 complex steps such as grinding and polishing, and often results in significant material waste and exceedingly large inventories.
On the other hand, Luxexcel’s on-demand 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 onto a build plate before curing it under UV light. Named the VisionEngine, the company’s 3D printer is able to print on a number of different materials such as polymers and glasses, meaning it’s compatible with third-party frames.
Luxexcel customers can embed smart devices such as waveguides, holographic films, and LCD screens directly into the lens between the printed layers, with the prescription power printed around these devices. As a result, users no longer need to wear their clunky prescription glasses underneath their smart AR glasses, since the lenses function as both.
Recently, Luxexcel also announced a commercial partnership with fellow lens manufacturer Optiswiss. As part of the deal, Optiswiss has installed Luxexcel’s VisionPlatform 7 at its Swiss lab, allowing the firms to bring 3D printed lenses to glasses manufacturers en-masse, whether they be for regular frames or advanced smart devices.
Prior to that, the firm also partnered with waveguide manufacturer WaveOptics to make modular 3D printed prescription smart lenses a reality. The companies have since produced standardized lens modules which can be used by other smart eyewear manufacturers to create end-use devices.
Integrating a Lumus Maximus waveguide
Luxexcel’s latest demonstrator embeds a Lumus Maximus reflective waveguide into a 3D printed prescription lens. The waveguide is known for its excellent luminance efficiency and outdoor use capabilities, featuring a 50° field-of-view, a 2K x 2K resolution, an eyebox of 12x12mm, and a brightness of more than 4,000nit/WLED.
According to the partners, the complete package maintains a high-quality, clear image produced by the waveguide, which is viewed through the prescription lens. The quality of the image is attributed to the fact that the waveguide remains completely flat during the 3D printing process, with additional features such as air gaps also possible on a lens-by-lens basis.
Owing to the versatility of Luxexcel’s 3D printing process, the module can be printed according to a user’s individualized prescription powers, enabling personalized smart eyewear.
Guido Groet, Chief Strategy Officer at Luxexcel, adds, “Given 75% of the world population today requires vision correction, providing prescription lenses for augmented reality glasses is crucial. We’re proud of the contribution our partnership with Lumus is making to the smart eyewear industry where they provide the imaging technology, we add the prescription and make the full device thin, lightweight and above all, fashionable.”
Luxexcel and Lumus with exhibit the demonstrator module for the first time at a SPIE AR VR MR Fireside Chat on April 7th, 2022. Customers will be able to purchase prototype samples in Q4 2022.
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Featured image shows the demonstrator co-developed by Luxexcel and Lumus. Photo via Luxexcel.