This level of "smooth"ness is remarkable. What resolution would we have to attain for a wearable contact lens? Wouldn't it be cool if your optometrist could give you a standard grapic of your eye curvature, together with the lens diopter and you could just go home and print your own contact lens?
Apple claims a "retinal" display. What kind of 3D printing resolution would be required for contact lenses? Any optometrists out there who could weigh in?
3D printing is becoming applicable to many things but this to me represents an entirely new direction and is really promising. The potential for contact lenses is especially interesting, given that I have been wearing contacts for nearly 30 years and I would love to be able to print them myself...it would save me lots of money and hassle!
Elizabeth, the idea of using this technology for the online order-on-demand type of glasses and contacts would make a lot of sense. It would be another example of what's called "mass customization" in 3D printing, often used of one-off items like custom-fitted hearing aids and dental models/appliances.
Elizabeth M, I agree that printing your own contact lenses would be convenient and cheap. But for a long time I thought that going to the optometrist was just a way of getting the right strength of glasses and contacts. I have learned to appreciate their service as giving you good insights into your general health as they look at your retinas, corneas, lenses, and fluid. Now I make a point of going for a checkup every year. Of course, it would be cool to print your own lenses after your visit.
Yes, I agree, 78RPM, there is value in that yearly visit, although personally I have not been to an optometrist in a really long time, and I still wear contact lenses. But it's true that there is a service they provide that printing your own lenses isn't going to do for you. And it would have to be a very exact science for the printing to work well.
While LUXeXceL may have gone to all that length to satisfy the whims of a King and Queen, the potential for what they have shown to be possible is extensive. Pretty soon they might even render lens makers irrelevant; except maybe to only act as the sources of raw materials. Imagine having your specs replace without having to visit an eye specialist. On the downside, it will be a while before this really tricles down to the masses who really need the technology.
Ann- wow, pretty impressive. 1440 DPI and it fluidly flows to create optical quality surfaces. Its hard to imagine the complete elimination of the grinding/polishing steps for optics. The translucency you described with color capabilities reminds me of the very first amber crystal SLAs form the late 80's. The door is just cracked open a tiny bit on these capabilities.
The 'big-thing' here is the smooth flowing of the resolution stepping. I typically work a lot with 2-part epoxies and make bonds under a microscope; this article reminds me too, of that; where I watch the epoxy flow and quick-cure into smooth fluid lines.
Jim T, my experience has been less satisfactory, in that it seems that smooth flowing and quick cure were mutually exclusive. The smooth flow urethane paints could be brushed on and after a few hours they would be very smooth, while the fast setting epoxy stuff looked like it had been applied with a stick. But that was a few years back. Also, the solvents in the urethane paint were fairly toxic, but they smelled so bad that nobody ever got enough of them to do any damage.
After what I had seen in the line of 3D manufacturing I am amazed that s suface as demanding as an optical lense can be produced. I can immagine illumination grade lenses, but for glasses that is amazing.
William, I'm equally amazed, especially having written about the lenses used for machine vision cameras (which if course this does not address, at least not yet). I hope the company decides to tell us more in the future about how they're doing it, perhaps after the second machine is developed with the University of Eastern Finland.
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Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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