Remember LUXeXcel? This Dutch company is a pioneer in the world of optics. Last year, they invented the world’s first-ever 3D printed glasses. As it is the aim of this company to change the production process of optics for good, they now invest in a new 3D printing factory. This building will be dedicated to the production of 3D printed LED contact lenses and optics. The company has already started its housing and installation activities earlier this month and the factory is expected to be productive from the second half of 2014. Read about how this could finally lead to getting a better view of paintings – which at this point will not sound logical at all. We know.
In this factory, technicians will work on the production of its LED lenses and optics, using a new, more precise and faster 3D printer, which uses CAD-to-Optic techniques. Without any requirements of post processing, this printer will be able to produce smooth components. LUXeXcel’s CEO Richard van de Vrie says: “Our new printers will enable us to print very precise LED lighting optics and will allow us to jet new optical materials. This increases the design capabilities we offer to optical designers and enables the LED Industry to customize per application, project or even single product.”
It will become a 1000 square meter factory, which will be located only a couple of minutes from the headquarters of LUXeXcel in Goes, The Netherlands. Good news for technicians in the Netherlands, because the company has announced new jobs in development, manufacturing and logistics in the upcoming years. LUXeXcel expects its production to rise massively with the addition of this new factory. There will be a clean room in this factory in order to improve the quality of the glasses. Van de Vrie adds: “This facility will allow us to upscale our production, and bring down the time to market for large series of customized optics significantly.”
Using this new way of producing, it will become easier to design and produce larger amounts of lenses in only a couple of days. For manufacturers, this implies that they will be able te reduce their stock, because a 3D printer can basically print out new lenses right away. The technique will also make it possible to precisely light a square painting (ta-daa!), giving us a better view of any painting in a museum. Poorly lit paintings will be something of the past. Another useful application: the technique will enable a streetlight to only light the street and – for instance – not your bedroom.
Great stuff, but that’s not what we know LUXeXcel from, because the company entered spotlights last year with their invention of 3D printed eyeglasses. So what was that about, then? Well, their new production process could lead to cheaper eyeglasses, as the production process will become a lot easier.
LUXeXcel wants to change the way we make glasses as follows: a person could sit behind a computer while a 3D scanner measures the eyes properly. Now a 3D printer will simply print out the glasses layer-by-layer. In addition, the technical team behind LUXeXcel has found a way to 3D print glasses while the actual glass remains smooth. Their technique also enables them to mix colors in the glasses directly. It speeds up the production of making glasses, because they don’t need finishing. After performing the eye test, the computer will send the test results to the 3D printer in order to print out the glasses.
Van de Vie answered “that’s the idea”, when Dutch news program Omroep Zeeland asked him if this would imply that everyone will be printing out their own spectacles in about 20 years. To Dutch news program Een Vandaag he expressed his further ideas about this technique: “You’ll discover more components in all kinds of printed products, which means products become cheaper, they will be added to the market faster, and there will be more customer-specific products. You could let a 3D scanner drive through Africa with a printer and print out glasses for all the people over there.”
Image credits: Eye Pop.