Luxexcel adds 3D printed prescription lenses to Vuzix AR headsets

Ophthalmic lens manufacturer Luxexcel has teamed up with augmented reality (AR) headset and eyewear company Vuzix to produce a range of 3D printed prescription lenses.

The prescription inserts are designed especially for the Vuzix Blade AR Smart Sunglasses, and will be launched at CES Las Vegas 2018.

The development of smart ophthalmic lenses

Unlike the standard subtractive manufacturing process, where a lens blank is manufactured and then refined using a grinding process, Luxexcel lenses are additively manufactured using a Luxexcel VisionEngine 3D printer.

In this process, an acrylic based resin known as VisionClear is jetted onto the build plate before it is cured with UV light. Jetted layers merge with the previously cured layer, producing a clear lens.

As well as full freedom of lens-design, 3D printing affords the ability to embed smart-functions into an ophthalmic lens. After meeting ISO standards for its range of standard ophthalmic lenses in March 2017, the company raised $10 million capital before announcing that it was developing AR/VR lenses in October with further investment.

VisionEngine 3D printer. Photo via Luxexcel.
VisionEngine 3D printer. Photo via Luxexcel.

From headset to eyewear

The smart technology embedded lenses will be exclusively available with the Vuzix Blade AR Smart Sunglasses. Unlike other AR and VR technologies, which filter vision through smartphones, the Vuzix Blade uses glass.

Operating on Android OS, embedded with waveguide optics, a Cobra II display engine, and featuring a touchpad and HD camera, the Vuzix Blade has both business and recreational applications.

“60% of the US population needs eye correction,” says Luxexcel CEO Hans Streng,

“Without custom prescription inserts, those people will not be able to fully enjoy the most advanced new augmented reality products.” 

Paul Travers, CEO of Vuzix, also welcomed Luxexcel’s decision to invest in AR, which would make the Blade “available to a much broader audience.”

A 3D printed Luxexcel lens. Photo via Luxexcel.

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Featured image shows a scientist wearing Vuzix Blade glasses. Photo via Vuzix.