By now, Luxexcel is pretty well synonymous with 3D printed optics – it’s said to be the only company in the world that has the ability to 3D print ophthalmic lenses without having to polish or grind them. The company, with offices in Belgium and the Netherlands, launched its online 3D printing service in 2015, and has worked with trinckle 3D to bring mass customization to 3D printed optics. In September, Luxexcel began working on a quality control program for its technology, and this spring, less than a decade after 3D printing the first pair of functional eyeglasses, prepared to start shipping its 3D printing platform.
This week, Luxexcel and nonprofit corporation IFB Solutions, which provides training, employment, and services for the blind and visually impaired, signed a contract for the first 3D printing platform for ophthalmic lenses. The platform will allow customers, like IFB Solutions, to manufacture 3D printed, quality ophthalmic lenses that meet industry standards.
“In IFB Solutions we found a partner that is keen to adopt this unique technology and develop the market for the unique products possible with 3D printing. It is our intention to overcome today’s challenges in the ophthalmic world by making lenses outside the mainstream, enabling eye glasses with new capabilities compared to the existing product offerings,” said Guido Groet, the Chief Commercial Officer of Luxexcel. “The Luxexcel Vision Platform represents the next level of lens manufacturing solutions for ophthalmic labs and provides an opportunity to differentiate and develop unique ophthalmic products.”
Industrial-grade optical 3D printers, workflow integration tools, and lens-design software make up the Luxexcel platform – combining consumables, hardware, and software into one 3D printing solution. For a click fee payment, ophthalmic labs get the entire platform, which includes resins and support. The platform can be integrated right into a proven ophthalmic lab workflow – lenses that are produced with the company’s 3D printing solution are now ISO compliant, and also compatible with current industry coatings and customary processes, such as frame mounting and edging.
Initially, IFB Solutions, which is the largest employer of individuals in the US who are blind or visually impaired, will use Luxexcel’s technology to focus on medical specialty lenses that are historically difficult to manufacture.
IFB Solutions operates the optical lab, and a large-scale manufacturing facility, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, along with another facility in Asheville and one in Arkansas. The Luxexcel platform will be integrated into the organization’s optical operations in Winston-Salem, which is one of the country’s top ten independent labs.
“The specialty lenses that we will produce with the Luxexcel technology are often needed for patients with low vision, which is a specific area of expertise at IFB Solutions. Not only do we employ many individuals with low vision but we also provide low vision services through our Community Low Vision Centers in North Carolina and Arkansas,” said Dan Kelly, Chief Operating Officer for IFB Solutions.
Luxexcel’s 3D printing technology is easy for lab technicians to use, and IFB, which employs blind and visually impaired people for over 75% of its optical lab workforce, plans to have these individuals operate the 3D printing machinery.
“We recognize that 3D printing is the future of the optical industry, and we want to be early innovators and adopters of this emerging technology,” said Kelly. “With the Luxexcel platform, we can now deliver specialty lenses to our customers in a matter of days, and that’s a huge advantage for our organization that is known for exceptional service and quality.”
The Luxexcel 3D printing platform for for ophthalmic lenses will be delivered to IFB Solutions in Winston-Salem on a pay-per-use model. Discuss in the Luxexcel forum at 3DPB.com.[Source/Images: Luxexcel]