25 Jun 2024

Collaboration to accelerate the design and production of smart eyewear

3D printing AR

Vuzix Corporation a leading supplier of Smart Glasses and Augmented Reality (AR) technology and products, and Materialise NV , have announced a collaborative effort to accelerate the design and production of smart eyewear using 3D printing technology.

By integrating 3D printing into the manufacturing process, Vuzix and Materialise aim to accelerate the development of new innovations for enterprise applications, from warehouses to operating rooms. Moreover, the collaboration will enable third party technology, sports, and entertainment brands to rapidly introduce functional, fashionable and affordable smart eyewear to consumers, reducing the average manufacturing cycle from 18 months to just 3.

Vuzix, an optical technology company specializing in the design, manufacturing, and sale of optical components and smart glasses, utilizes augmented reality (AR) to deliver a perfect balance of engagement between the digital and the real world. By collaborating with Materialise, a 3D printing pioneer with over three decades of experience, Vuzix gains access to the full potential of 3D printing to support companies in offering an exciting new series of smart eyewear.

Augmented reality enhances user effectiveness in various industries by connecting them to key information in a digital world while staying hands-free and completely aware of the physical environment. Medical professionals rely on smart eyewear to access remote expertise during lengthy surgeries, while manufacturing and logistics companies utilise AR features to drive efficiency and reduce operational errors. Leveraging the flexibility of 3D printing in smart eyewear production can significantly reduce design cycles, enabling a more agile response to the fast-paced introduction of technological advancements.

While smart eyewear has transformed the workplace, consumer adoption has been limited due to the lack of compelling consumer applications and the lack of fashionable and affordable designs. Vuzix and Materialise aim to address these challenges by creating exciting and innovative designs that cater to companies seeking to introduce fashionable and affordable smart eyewear to consumers.

Exciting consumer applications of smart eyewear include on-screen displays of speed and heart rate for athletes, push notifications and navigation, speech-to-text translation, and augmented reality gaming. Many companies in the technology, fashion, entertainment, and sports sectors today lack the manufacturing expertise to bring these innovative applications to life, and on a timely basis. The collaboration between Vuzix and Materialise provides these third-party OEM companies with a flexible platform for producing smart eyewear with creative designs, rapid prototyping services, and fast and flexible production of small series.

Materialise runs one of the largest 3D printing factories in the world and is the largest manufacturer of 3D-printed eyewear. 3D printing holds multiple advantages for eyewear production with manufacturers increasingly turning to 3D printing for its unique design capabilities and its fast and flexible production process. It offers virtually unlimited freedom of design, allowing designers to create innovative shapes that are cost-prohibitive or impossible with traditional manufacturing technologies. Additionally, 3D printing drastically reduces time-to-market, enabling the transition from initial design to finished product in less than 3 months, compared to the eyewear industry’s typical 18-month design-to-shipment cycle. 

“With its speed and flexibility, Materialise’s dedicated 3D printing factory for eyewear offers eyewear brands a competitive edge by allowing them to drastically reduce their time-to-market while meeting customers’ aesthetic requirements,” says Fried Vancraen, CEO of Materialise. “We believe that collaboration with Vuzix will bring new innovations to industrial smart eyewear and accelerate consumer adoption of smart eyewear.”

“As our OEM solutions ramp up in support of defense, consumer, and other markets, our manufacturing capabilities need to match pace for scalability, production speed and above all quality,” said Paul Travers, President and CEO of Vuzix. “Materialise offers several key advantages that align with our strategic outlook. We look forward to seeing what’s possible together.”

Company info: Vuzix Corporation