Google glass 3d printer

3D Printed Lenses for Smart Glasses

Remember Google Glass?

It was a nose-mounted smart product that offered the moon and delivered ridicule and paranoia.

And do you remember the expectations versus the reality? We were promised a futuristic HUD with the ability to pipe information from the interweb directly into our eyes…

But in reality, it seemed to be used mostly for obnoxiously recording every face-to-face human interaction the wearer was involved with in their daily existence.

For that reason, the term “glasshole” entered the lexicon, and shortly afterwards, the Google Glass project just kinda disappeared…up its own glass, much to the lament of tech-savvy early-adopter hipsters all around the world.

Well, that’s not strictly true. The prototype/dev Explorer edition just faded away and was eventually replaced by the Enterprise Edition, which basically nobody cared about either.

When was the last time you saw someone wearing a Google Glass? Exactly.
It was just too weird for public consumption.

Smart Lens

If you were one of those folks who feels that wearable face-tech disappeared too soon, then lament no more because the next generation of smart glasses could be winging their way onto your faces very soon thanks to 3D printed lens company Luxexcel.

Luxexcel, who are headquartered in Eindhoven, Netherlands, have been 3D printing lenses since 2009 and are patent holders to some of the main technologies required for 3D printing lenses. These patents make up the core of their VisionPlatform, which includes a 3D printer, a collection of custom resins for printing lenses and the proprietary software (VisionMaster) for designing and printing lenses, of both smart and traditional varieties.

How does it work?

The lenses are printed in the normal manner, and during printing the process is paused and the electronic hardware is placed on the lens surface. The printer is resumed and the electronics are seamlessly encased within the lens body. The video below explains that process in much more depth.

Why 3D Print Lenses Anyway?

Having worked as a lens maker, this writer has some experience in this field, and I have the scars on my fingers a decade later to prove it. Ground lens edges are SHARP. Like razor sharp.

In a nutshell, a lens manufacturer will typically take a plastic/glass lens blank from a variety of optical options based on customer requirements. The blank looks like a transparent hockey puck.

It is then loaded into a grinding machine with the tooling, which is shaped to provide the correct curvature to the front and back of the lens. The grinding machine is pumped full of milky abrasive fluid, and you just sit back and wait a while until the abrasive covered tools do their job.

It then goes onto another machine and is polished in a similar way.

The ground/polished lens is removed and cut down to shape so it fits the spectacle frame before going through some QC process where the refractive index of the lens is measured before being fitted into customers’ spectacle frames.

By 3D printing the lenses, you can cut out all of that black selection process, and the grinding and polishing, and simply 3D print the lens into its final form.

No need for polishing and grinding machines. No need for a storeroom full of blanks. You can see the value already, right? Reduced processing steps equals reduced machine costs, and reduced staff costs too.

And as traditional lens grinding is a subtractive process, it can waste up to 80% of the material in manufacturing. With AM, that wastage is reduced significantly.

How is it different from Google Glass?

While the Google Glass had a single little screen positioned just above the eye for you to stare into, the Luxexcel models have the screen inside the lens itself.

And there are two lenses, just like real glasses.

The lens itself can be designed to whatever your prescription demands. The main difference is of course that Luxexcel is a dedicated optical lens company as opposed to Google, who aren’t.

Consequently this technology feels like it has been designed from the ground up to actually look like glasses (and function like them) rather than the Google product which looks like someone has glued a Pez dispenser onto a frame.

The result is a pair of AR glasses that actually look like glasses, with larger screen real estate than Google’s weird effort. And because the electronics are embedded into the lens, there are some weight reduction benefits also.

Let’s just be clear: Luxexcel are primarily a lens manufacturer rather than a smart-glasses product maker. They are largely designing smart lenses for other companies to put into their own products.

For example, a couple of years ago they provided lenses for the Vuzix Blade AR glasses.

Will this help bring about a true AR killer app? Or will we be doomed to wearing the likes of Magic Leap and Microsoft HoloLens for our AR jollies?

Let’s hope it is the former.

Hassle-Free 3D Printer Breaks Paradigm Mold

In 2014, the biggest brains in 3D printing, from the inventor of 3D CAD software to the developer of inkjet 3D printing, stealthily joined forces to create a company whose goal was to break industrial 3D printers out of the lab and make them safe and easy enough to use in an office.

This week, that Boston startup, Rize Inc., the additive manufacturing dream team has emerged from the shadows to unveil its new desktop industrial printer, the Rize One (starts at $19,000).

It eliminates nearly every pet peeve you’ve ever had about industrial 3D printing. Post-processing time? Gone. Weak material? Not anymore. Complex software? Simplified.   

The 21.4 x 36 25.4 in. printer uses a patented Augmented Polymer Deposition process and game-changing material, Rizium One, that have been shown to cut overall turnaround time by 50%.

We asked Frank Marangell, President and CEO of Rize and former president of Objet North America, to tell us why this is the finally the 3D printer you’ve been waiting for.

NED: How did the team get together?

Frank Marangell: CTO and founder Eugene Giller, who developed the material for Google Glass came up with the idea to solve the limitations in 3d printers and thought there has to be a better way. He tested his patented material, which has a mechanical strength that is twice that of materials used on FDM systems, enough to convince many of us it was a good idea. He connected with Leonid Raiz, the architect of Pro/Engineer 3DCAD software.

They were looking for a CEO, and I just left Stratasys after the merger. I said “Sign me up!” I knew this thing was going to be significant in the industry.

After an Investor presentation, we got funded in late 2014 (by Longworth Venture Partners and SB Capital with $4M in seed funding. )

NED: So why is this going to be so significant?

FM: It’s an industrial printer, with a build area of 12 x 8 x 6 in., or 300 x 200 x150 mm, made to run 24/7 that competes with larger $100,000 printers. The print takes the same time, but the post processing can take mere seconds. Our patented technology and materials allow us to change mechanical properties of the thermoplastic, voxel by voxel (3D pixel). That gives us the ability to jet a release layer, normally at 300 dpi, that separates the support from the model. The support material would normally lock to it, but because of our secondary process, which puts down a layer of Release One material between the support and layer above so it can’t attach to it, we’re able to pop off the support material without any post processing, and doesn’t create any marks on it, and no filing or sanding is needed.

Even on models with complex geometries, Rize One affords zero post-processing.
Photo: Rize

NED: How much time does post-processing really consume though?

FM: One of our beta customers, Reebok, which made everything from shoelaces to lacrosse heads, found that by eliminating post-processing, you could save on average 50% production time. That’s if you’re working 24/7. It could be you’re missing a shift because of post-processing and that costs you 24 hours. We have that example ourselves. With print jobs that could take 6 to 8 hours, we’d print overnight using another technology prior to our printer was ready to use, and want to use it right away the next day, but it needs 8 hours in soluble support tank. If we’re not careful we could miss the day’s shift for use later that night and have to wait until the next morning.

Our technology saves that entire day of work and makes production quality parts.

Reebok told us the lack of labor in post-processing labor could pay for this in less than a year. That doesn’t even include the time to get the designs out earlier and post-processing materials needed with other systems. Better design integration is very hard to put a dollar amount on, but everybody’s striving for it.

NED: What other features stand out?

We have from a filament standpoint, spots for two cartridges. Each has a tool at the end and the spool just plugs right in and is automatically fed into machine. When the first one empties, it swaps over to the next cartridge automatically. It was one of my requirements. It was always a pet peeve of mine that you don’t know if you have enough material to complete build. You get ¾ of the way through a build and run out.

NED: Short of giving us the recipe, what can you tell us about your patented material, Rizium One?

FM: The thermoplastic strength in z-axis creates a bond that is almost equal to the x and y. The recipe gives us something above 60 mega pascals in x, y, and z in strength. And it has high Heat Deflection temperature (HDT) strength. It’s comparable to polycarbonate. Compared to 3D Systems SLA or Stratasys’ ABSplus, it’s less than half the price. Those are about $260/kg; we’re going to be less than $100/kg.

And it’s made of eco-friendly material. It doesn’t give off any volatiles when extruding. ABS gives off styrene, PLA gives off lactide. It’s safer than what’s on 2D printers today. It makes the Rize One the first non-toxic 3D printer that is safe for the office environment.

The non-toxic Rizium One material "breaks the chains of the 3D printing lab," making the industrial printer safe for the office.
Photo: Rize

NED: When will Rize One be available?

FM: We have beta machines ready. We’re going to start at Reebok, and move on from there with other well-known names a couple hours drive from our office. It’s more an early adopter system than true beta. We’re taking orders in Q4, and they’ll get them Q1. The machine is self-installed and is designed to run and run and run and not need a service package. Service package will be available, though.

The first release will be grey-scale, but it has the ability to print in full-color, which will be available in the next upgrade. The carriage to hold the heads is already in place. Then you can get into spare parts replacement.

Rize One 3D prints of high definition text and images "anywhere, anytime." Full color should be available in a future hardware and software patch.
Photo: Rize

NED: What industries will benefit most?

FM: The sky’s the limit where you can use it. Most 3D printers are known for form and fit, but not function. With ours, because of the Z strength, you’re able to get the function. You can produce handlebar on bicycle, any mechanical gear structure, all mechanical parts .

An auto mechanic could produce custom parts on-demand without worrying about the complexity of software or the post-processing nightmare. A doctor’s office can model CAT scan data, or surgical tools to explain surgery to patient or to help with procedure. These are made today, but made in labs far away from the user.

For more information on the Rize One, please visit

(There is a solution) My heated glass plate is cracking.

How to prevent it?

heated bed fdm hbp fff

My FDM thermoplastic printer has a heated desktop and uses glass as the print surface. Sometimes the glass cracks or breaks completely when I take my print. Most often this happens when the print has a large area of ​​contact with the glass.

What can I do to prevent this from happening?

@martin, #15