3D Printed Ophthalmics: Fact or Fiction?

Last week, I have had the honor to support Luxexcel – the company I proudly served during the early start-up stages – once again from my next position at Luminous Concepts. Being part of the event team for the Vision East Expo in New York City, I witnessed the launch of Luxexcel’s rapidly evolving 3D printing technology towards an audience of eyewear specialists including optical laboratories, eyewear brands, software firms and designers. The inaugural eyewear event was an overwhelming success and clearly confirmed the future strategy and refined business model for Luxexcel. Now, the opthalmics industry needs to wake up, it’s getting VERY serious. Moreover, it needs to prepare for a different future, and below is why.

Next Quality Level – Novel Focus!

After reaching imaging optics quality by the end of last year, the corporate Luxexcel governance decided to bring enhanced focus to its activities. After acting as a ‘multi-market service provider’ for printed optics over the last couple of years, the business strategy was thoughtfully taken over the last months to a next level: providing 3D printing equipment with ophthalmics quality. After several years of hard pioneering work and test marketing, the company decided to go out and share the achieved ophthalmics performances with the rest of the market. Vision East NYC was the launching event for this groundbreaking optics 3D printing technology.

From ‘Manufacturing-as-a-Service’ to ‘Pay per Use’

Luxexcel will provide the users with a full set-up including the hardware (3D printer), consumables, software and full service and maintenance support. The complete value package will exclusively be available to ophthalmics labs and companies in very specific, high-end market niches (ophthalmics specialties).

Seamless Lab Integration

Meanwhile, Luxexcel is preparing the outplacement of its first opthalmics 3D printers in optical laboratories around the globe after summer. After gearing up for launch in the last year through an iterative learning process in various ophthalmics laboratories and test market niches, the company is now getting ready to take a next challenge!

Illumarco_3D printed opthalmics_Luxexcel_seamless lab integration.jpgThe Luxexcel Opthalmics 3Dprinting equipment seamlessly fits in the actual opthalmics laboratory set-ups

WANTED: Independant Ophthalmics Laboratories!

Luxexcel actively seeks the cooperation with (independant) optical laboratories to spread it’s core technology in a variety of eyewear market niches and applications. Interested labs are strongly encouraged to reach out to Luxexcel and discover the value for their business.  Also, joint development programs are offered to potentially strategical technology users with upwards potential to enrich their portfolio and open up new ways of fabrication in a much more flexible and sustainable way!

Enabling Eyewear Technology

The ultimate goal of Luxexcel is not just to economize the actual supply chain, to ‘green’ it and to make it more efficient. Intentionally, the enabling Luxexcel technology opens doors to novel products and applications in high end market niches. This is where Luxexcel want’s to open up doors to applications that were never available before, for example because conventional fabrication technologies lack.

Embedded (secondary) materials, such as electronics and thin-films, VR and AR applications, can now be foreseen with custom focal power. Those and many other new possibilities are now getting within the reach of any lab. Luxexcel launched an amazing set of inspirational showcases at Vision East, just to show its users what can be achieved today, and in the future!

Illumarco_Luxexcel_Vision East Expo_Showcases launchAt Vision East, Luxexcel introduced a variety of inspiring showcases created by its new eyewear technology.

Inspiring Concepts for Today and Tomorrow

3D printed lenses, in ophthalmic quality, are a game changer in the ophthalmic industry. Luxexcel technology is enhanced every day, aiming to make its enabling technology available to the market in 2017. The availability will open up new possibilities in design, process optimize todays processes and allow eyewear developers and designers to create new and unique concepts.

More specifically, eyewear laboratories will soon have the possibility to work with Luxexcel hard- and software directly from their position in the actual supply chain and start to create new and inspiring eyewear concepts, inspired by designers from various backgrounds. Assembled in Europe, the optical 3D printers are ready to be outplaced soon and enrich the laboratories’ offering.

Freedom of Design

3D printed opthalmics come with absolute design freedom. With Luxexcel technology, not only the lens surfaces can be freeform, there are virtually no limitations any longer to the design of the lens shapes as well. As frames now can be embedded (encapsulated) in the lens itself, there is no physical boundary anymore, designers can work easily around it.

Illumarco_Luxexcel_Vision East Expo_Decorative_Tattoo_ShowcasesEyewear specialties, such tattoo lenses, can now be tailored to the users’ needs.

Also, decorative elements such as images, alignment marks, logo’s and brand names can now easily be added to the lens surfaces, in one single process. It provides designers with new tools to customize their next generations of eyewear. On the contrary to customizing the frames, the design revolution of the last decade, they can now start to be creative with the lenses and their clarity itself!

Wrap Up and Future Expectations

After the inaugural launch at the Vision Expo East 2017, functional 3D Printed Opthalmics are now within the reach of every eyewear professional. I am thrilled to see how the company is starting to make a real difference in the eyewear world. The technology has enormous potential in this field, and the need for change and diversification is huge.

What we’ve seen at Vision East last week, is just a glimpse of what the company is working on. Luxexcel is finally getting ready for a next stage of growth, and it’s technology – with its disruptive power – is ready for it!

 

Fully 3D Printed Glasses – New York City Trial

User Testimonial

Along with the Vision East Expo, I had the honor to be part of a selected user group wearing world’s first FULLY 3D printed glasses. Both the frame, sourced from Monoqool, a trendy eyewear brand, and the glasses provided by Luxexcel, were fabricated using novel additive manufacturing processes.

After wearing my customized pair of 3D printed lenses for over three showdays (and nights), I can confirm that it’s quality is pure and unequalled. Both for operational tasks and going around at the show and in New York City, the glasses performed to my satisfaction. The view, both near and far, is of proper quality and I faced no serious problems when going around, reading signs (including the glare at Broadway) or doing concentrated task work.

The lenses as used for this test case had zero focal power, but the clarity and uniformity of the lenses were satisfactory. Both the outside – that’s been hard coated and AR coated – and the ‘lookthrough’ were of excellent quality!

Even as a ‘non-eyewear’ user, I can confirm the glassess are fine for all-day use. I am looking with great interest and expectations forward to the further roll-out of Luxexcel’s Technology in the US and European ophthalmics markets!

Illumarco_Luxexcel_Vision East Expo_Testimonial fully 3D printed glassesUltimate ‘design freedom’: Lady Liberty through printed glasses, as clear as crystal… fenomenal!

Pictures in this post are property of either the author or Luxexcel. All rights reserved.

Interview(s): 3D Printing Lighting Objects and Components – How does the Future look like?

Recently, I’ve been invited to give a dual interview for The Light Design, an online magazine dedicated to light and to the role it plays in cultural and creative industries, as well as in everyday life. I am delighted to share it with you for a deeper understanding of the future of additive manufacturing for lighting professionals!

Creative Light in Everyday Life

The Light Design caters to technicians, architects, artists, and to all those involved in creative fields. The magazine’s articles analyse light from different points of view, and tackle topics that range from concert and theatre lighting to the role of light in art and architecture, without neglecting interior, residential, commercial and architectural lighting.

The Light Design nicely captured the interviews on their inspiring blog. Here you can read the full interviews:

#1 – 3D Printing a lighting object – how does the future look like?
#2 – 3D printing of Lighting Components

Enjoy the perspectives, and please don’t be afraid to talk back, either via The Light Design Forum or just leave your comments in the footer section of this blog.

3D Printing Eleven_Article Banner

3DPrinting.Lighting – Technology and Inspiration Blog for Lighting Professionals

Finally, I could recommend you following the blog 3Dprinting.Lighting to stay informed about the latest developments, inspiration and practical user cases.

Make sure you won’t stay behind in the 3D Printing Revolution!

Featured Article: “The 3D Printing Eleven – How 3D Printing Enables the Lighting Revolution”

“Benefits of 3D Printing Technologies for the Lighting Industry by Lighting-Inspiration.com”

Recently, the Lighting-Inspiration.com Blog started to feature an extensive range of articles on how the arrival of 3D printing technology will change the future of manufacturing, especially within the global lighting industry. 3D printing will impact the design, engineering, manufacturing, supply and application of lighting and enable solutions that were never able to create before. By publishing the 11-fold article, Lighting-Inspiration.com aims to take away the uncertainties and ignorance about this new way of making and how it will impact a certain discipline of a lighting companies’ business.

Join the 3D Printing Journey
Anyone working with light, from technical engineering professionals at the one hand to lighting specifiers such as lighting designers and project planners at the other hand, is encouraged to start discovering the renewed possibilities that appear with the coming of additive manufacturing. A full range of in-depth articles show step by step the various benefits for the industry and clearly explains them in more detail. The separate steps are foreseen with practical examples that will be definitely be recognized by the readers.

3DP11: The 3D Printing Eleven Benefits for Lighting
The benefits that are brought to the industry are centered around 11 different principles: “The 3D Printing Eleven“. Each of the individual bullets below contains an underlaying page where you’ll find the listed topic worked out in more detail.

  1. No Upfront Investments
  2. Greater Product Variety
  3. Complexity is Free
  4. Easy Iterations
  5. No Assembly Required
  6. Shortened Lead Times
  7. Unparalleled Design Freedom
  8. Zero Manufacturing Skills
  9. Reduced Material Waste
  10. Multi-material Applications
  11. Exact Part Replication

Time-to-time publications
From time to time, new contributions, product examples and success stories will be added to the Lighting-Inspiration.com Blog in order to fully explain on the developments that empower the rapid changing state of the industry. 3D printing is seen as a highly disruptive technology, and thanks to the ongoing digitization, and a lot of new possibilities where we even can’t dream of today are ahead the road.

Start to discover the benefits of 3D printing for your business today! Please discover more about the features of 3D printing technology for lighting professionals at the blog 3DPrinting.Lighting.

21st Century Optics Design Engineering

“A Day from the life of John” – 21st Century Optics Engineering

Optics system design and engineering is a pretty genious job. To be taken seriously, you’ll need at least a 10+ years of experience before you’re really recognized as a seasoned ‘senior’. Due to todays ongoing digitization, computers are important to most engineers, as with other fields of engineering. They are used with instruments, in optics design creations and simulations, and for many other applications. Optics designers need to extend their skills by frequent training sessions and study new developer skills.

Optical System Design Challenges
Designing optical systems isn’t an easy job. Optics engineers make use of optics to solve problems and to design and build devices that make light do something useful. It comes with real challenges on the system design itself and the engineering work. Developing new optics solutions requires them to understand and apply the science of optics in substantial detail, in order to understand what outcome is physically possible to achieve. But they also must know what is practical in terms of technologies that are available, materials to use, costs they have to count with, design methods that can be applied, etcetera. Fortunately, most of the work is well known and, if extreme projects appear, you can overcome it easily by bringing in the right skills, study, experience or hire someone from your network to help you out.

Optical Design Frustrations
More frustrating are the challenges that are outside of your own capabilities: prohibitively expensive optics design software, manufacturing tolerances, and most likely a torn in the flesh of every designer: the manufacturing tooling needed to prototype and manufacture the real end product. Expensive upfront investments in tooling, uncertainties about the outcome and tooling limitations are real bottlenecks in the freedom and flexibility of today’s optics designer.

But what if…
Tooling is no longer needed? Your minimum order quantity is as low as one piece? Cost effective trial & error and iterations could be implemented? Design freedom is (almost) unlimited? Here’s the video that I promised in my earlier post. Digital 3D printing of functional optics is just around the corner. And it’s amazingly powerful. Watch – … – recognize – …- act!

Let’s break the mold! Help making the life of Optics Designers easier, spread the word by sharing this video!

Rapid Prototyping – The Future

Apart from the passion I have for lighting, 3D printing – also referred to as ‘additive manufacturing’ – is something that intrigues me. Apart from making the production of goods more cost and time efficient, it creates new possibilities in design and manufacturing. Possibilities that you and I never dreamt of before.

Here’s just a quick shot to help you understanding how the 3D printing revolution will change the making of things and impact the global supply chain of goods. I can really recommend you this short video to understand  how the future of rapid prototyping will look like.

By the way, I will share another exciting animation movie on the 3D printing of optics in the next couple of months. Keep watching me!

The Digitization of Plastics Fabrication (3)

“Printoptical Technology offers Unparalleled Design Freedom to Designers and Luminaire Makers resulting in Optimized Design Processes, a shortened Product Time-to-Market and an overall Increased Competitive Edge”

Optimized Design Processes
The longer an optic takes in the design and prototyping phase, the longer it takes the lighting fixture to get to market, meaning less potential profit for the company. With increasing pressure to get products to market quickly, companies are compelled to make quick yet accurate decisions during the conceptual stage of design. These decisions can affect the majority of total cost factors by establishing material selection, manufacturing techniques and design longevity. Printoptical Technology can optimize design processes for greatest potential profit by speeding iterations through product testing. An optimized design process with more prototype iterations can help minimize risk of product failure. Because Printoptical Platforms can produce optics with fine feature details, designers can be more confident in their work. Making needed changes as early as possible saves money and time. Optics made by 3D printing can give optical designers and engineers a thorough understanding of potential lighting products earlier in the design process than other methods, minimizing the risk that problems will go unnoticed until it’s too late.

Reasons to Adopt Printoptical Technology
The practical reasons for adopting Printoptical Technology are fairly obvious: no tooling required, new design opportunities, easy iterations, fast product availability. However, consider the effects that it can have on the scale and reach of projects. With Printoptical Technology designers are no longer constrained by space or volume limitations, like when they use injection molding. They can build greener, smarter and bigger optics and experiment with all types of new layouts without loss of tooling and investments.

Freeform Optics
Moreover, it is possible to create freeform optics: novel optics that are designed in a asymmetric and complex way. Freeform optics are difficult to make using the traditional fabrication methods, and the making would rather have to be based on ultra-precision machining technology. This novel Printoptical Technology can be widely applied to machining freeform plastic optics. In this way, innovative optoelectronic products can be supplied to the market at a competitive price. Printoptical Technology gives the freedom to suit nearly every optical application, giving the design freedom to achieve the exact optic the maker wants, without compromise.

New ways of design, out of the box thinking
Designers are encouraged to broaden their horizon and to change their ‘mindset’, and start a completely new way of thinking. The results of the design process can be new geometric or freeform shapes that may include transparent prisms or lenses, as well as colored lenses, lens combinations, full color 3D graphics and textures, like integrated surface structures and company logos. Even though the material is deposited in discrete drops, the resulting surface is perfectly smooth. This is accomplished by delaying the time between the jetting of the droplets and the application of UV light, which gives the polymer time to flow and for each droplet to lose its spherical form. The mechanism for surface formation is surface tension, a phenomenon of nature which produces surfaces more smooth that any man-made process can match. Optical quality surfaces are achieved with no post processing.

Advanced multi-lens, integrated in wood grain and matte texture

Advanced multi-lens, integrated in wood grain and matte texture

Shortened time to market
With these digital manufacturing applications, the designers and engineers can make alterations to their optical designs in seconds, and see how every minute change will affect the entire fixture design. The Printoptical Software provides a highly cost-efficient means of producing numerous optical design iterations and gaining immediate feedback throughout the critical beginning stages of the development process. The ability to refine form, fit and function of the optics quickly can significantly improve production costs and time to market. This can create a distinct competitive advantage for those companies who include Printoptical Technology as an integral part of their overall design process. The speed, consistency, accuracy and low cost of this process will help lighting companies reduce the overall time-to-market and maintain a competitive edge. The engineers can properly address all potential problems with an optic before construction begins, they’ll save time, money, physical resources and maximize the efficiency of their team. What would have seemed extremely tedious and time-consuming in the past years – such as designing and setting up an production line, can now be done in a fraction of the time.

Increased competitiveness
Undoubtedly, 3D printing of optics is a step in the right direction for saving our planet. The world economy is in dire straits, and highly respected global lighting companies are laying off workers by hundreds, or have to shut down completely. Local markets are flooded with low-quality, cheap lighting alternatives and suppliers are shutting their doors due to devastating decreases in consumer and OEM demand. Right now, the main question on every manufacturer’s mind is: how do we stay competitive? It turns out that in this case, helping the environment can dramatically help the bottom line. By cutting upfront cost, generating less need for working capital, delivering a high return on investment and contributing to revenue increases, digital manufacturing can save companies money, time and make them even more attractive as a potential business partner.

Thanks for reading part 3/4 of this blog on the digitization of optics fabrication. Next week, the last edition will be published with more views on a ‘third industrial revolution’ and conclusions.

The Digitization of Plastics Fabrication (2)

“The Long Tail Effect for LED Lighting Optics: This New Way of Optics Manufacturing Offers a Greater Product Variety and Higher Profit Margins”

Economies of Scale
Today, if you ask a conventional optics supplier to make an LED lighting optic to your custom need, you will be presented with a daunting minimum order quantity and an up-front cost of tens of thousands of Euros. Your supplier has to cover the costs to produce a mold, and set up their expensive equipment for a long enough production run to warrant the investment. Doing that for one single optical prototype or limited series would be prohibitively expensive. It is true that if you finally start producing thousands of optics at the end, each optic will be much inexpensive, due to ‘economies of scale’. However, the business imperative to achieve such economies of scale has fundamentally distorted the economics of the lighting industry, severely constraining the number of new products that can be introduced, and making it hard to stay abreast of changes in technologies, availability of supply or trends in market demand.

Manufacturing as a Service
Thanks to the invention of Printoptical Technology – 100% digitally run by CAD-driven software – for an additively manufactured LED lighting optic economies of scale don’t matter anymore. This will be a huge advantage for lighting entrepreneurs who are, due to their limited availability of cash, not able to introduce new designs without the cost of a facility or distant manufacturing firm. A significant part of – sometimes very brilliant – product ideas remains unexploited in the desk archive. Thanks to the wide use of 3D-CAD and lighting design software from providers, like Autodesk, Solid Works, Photopia and LightTools, designs can be created easily, endlessly tweaked and converted easily at low cost. The cost of setting up the ‘Printoptical Printing Platform’ is the same whether it makes one thing or as many production lots as can fit inside the machine. Like a printing press that pushes out one or many different print brochures, the machine keep going until the ‘ink cartridge’ – a container with a liquid Polymer – is empty, and the ‘paper’ – raw translucent substrate materials like PMMA and Polycarbonates – needs to be replenished.

The Long Tail effect
Many optics engineers and designers work in the so called ‘long tail’, developing specialty optics, new designs, and lower-volume deployments. The long tail applications rarely have the sales volumes to justify large up-front investments in time or the resources to develop a “full” LED optic. This may be because these are new applications in the initial conception and research stages of a lighting product, or because they are new variations on an existing concept.

The Long Tail Effect for LED Optics: lower investment cost, increased flexibility and a greater product variety.

(Picture 1 – The long tail effect for LED lighting optics. The long tail is a way to describe optics specialties or niche applications in the Lighting Industry)

Revolutionary 3D printing process
Printoptical Technology will allow lighting optics to be produced in one step from a digital CAD file due to the new, revolutionary 3D printing process. Optics can be made economically in much smaller numbers, more flexibly and with a much lower input of labor, thanks to the use of new materials, processes, and on-demand CAD-based custom manufacturing services. Production is moving away from ‘mass manufacturing’ to ‘mass customization’ and back towards much more individualized production. Customers get a broader array of choices and solutions better fitted to their needs, and manufacturers earn the loyalty and higher profit margins that come with better satisfying individual customer demands and preferences.

This article is the second publication within a range of four articles written on the Additive Manufacturing of LED lighting optics. The next edition – to appear in the next couple of weeks – will explain the benefits for its adopters on design, time-to-market and competition in more detail.