Luxexcel 3D printed prescription lenses feature in Vuzix Corp's Blade AR smartglasses

Luxexcel has partnered with Vuzix Corp, a supplier of smartglasses and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies, to provide the company with 3D printed prescription lenses.

The lenses are inserted into the Vuzix Blade AR smartglasses, set to be showcased at CES in Las Vegas next week. Blade has been designed for both enterprise and ‘prosumer’ users, and allows the user to leave their phone in their pocket as it connects and presents location-aware content through the smartglasses. Vuzix has cited retail and enterprise workers as potential beneficiaries of the product, which would enable them to scan barcodes, receive instructions, take pictures, and use two-way video streaming.

Wanting to make the smartglasses accessible to a wider audience, Vuzix sought the expertise of Luxexcel to additively manufacture prescription lenses for the Blade smartglasses. Using its VisionEngine 3D printer, Luxexcel 3D prints lenses by jetting a UV-curable resin onto the build plate, then curing by UV-light. The resin is deposited in several passes during the process, droplets flowing and merging when they hit the surface, creating the lens shape and features. Luxexcel can print four lenses within an hour, each of which will be immediately ready for coating without grinding or polishing.

The companies have partnered to take advantage of 3D printing’s design freedom capabilities and ability to embed smart functions into ophthalmic lenses. Luxexcel is confident 3D printed lenses represent the next revolution in eye correction, and can be of widespread use to the smart eyewear market.

“60% of the US population needs eye correction,” commented Hans Streng, CEO of Luxexcel. “Without custom prescription inserts, those people will not be able to fully enjoy the most advanced new augmented reality products. Luxexcel is thrilled to partner with Vuzix as the early adopter of 3D printed ophthalmic lens inserts. We see great synergy between the amazing innovations of Vuzix and the technology of Luxexcel.”

Paul Travers, President and CEO of Vuzix, added: “We are delighted that with the 3D printed prescription lenses provided by Luxexcel, a much broader audience can enjoy our unique new product, the Vuzix Blade.

“Vuzix Blade we believe arguably represents the most compact and sleek AR-enabled smartglasses available today. It enables a broad range of information display and computing in a pair of glasses that people would actually enjoy wearing either at work or at leisure.”

Vuzix Blade will showcase the Vuzix Blade AR smartglasses at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), Central Hall Booth #17147, from January 9th to January 12th.

World's first 3D LED printer could print HUD contact lenses

Researchers at Princeton University have developed a 3D printer that can print LEDs in layers — and it could one day print contact lens HUDs.

Illustration depicting the layers of the LED device.
Kong et al, Nano Letters

Here’s a hypothetical question: would you rather have a HUD on glasses or a contact lens? If you answered “contact lens”, the bad news is that you may be waiting some time… but the good news is that it just got a little more feasible, with the invention of the world’s first 3D printer that can print LEDs.

The team, led by Michael McAlpine at Princeton University’s McAlpine Research Group, has successfully used its printer to 3D-print quantum dot LEDs — LEDs that are considered the next step up from OLED. QLEDs shine brighter and with purer colour, at a lower power consumption rate, using cadmium selenide nanocrystals. They’re also ultrathin, flexible and transparent — like, for instance, contact lenses.

“The conventional microelectronics industry is really good at making 2D-electronic gadgets,” McAlpine said. “With TVs and phones, the screen is flat. But what 3D printing gives you is a third dimension, and that could be used for things that people haven’t imagined yet, like 3D structures that could be used in the body.”

McAlpine and his team printed the LED in five layers. A ring made of silver nanoparticles on the bottom layer is the metal conduit for a mechanical circuit. Two polymer layers follow to supply and transfer the electrical current to the next layer, consisting of cadmium selenide nanoparticles (the quantum dots) contained in a zinc sulphide case. The top and final layer is the cathode, made of eutectic gallium indium.

The printer cost around $20,000 and took two years to develop.
Kong et al, Nano Letters

“What we have presented here is an additional method to integrate electronics that can take into consideration the three-dimensional geometry of an object,” said study lead co-author Yong Lin Kong. He also noted that this is the first example of a fully 3D printed, fully functional electronic device.

Potential applications for the technology include wearables, such as the aforementioned contact lens — if the team can figure out a way to include an on-board power supply. The team is also going to be investigating the inclusion of a 3D-printed transistor for added functionality.

You can find the full study online in the journal Nano Letters.