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A new dimension at Vision Expo East

Luxexcel and Specsy promote 3D printing technology at the New York tradeshow

24 Mar 2018 by John White

“We want to do things no one else can do,” chief operating officer at Luxexcel, Joost van Abeelen told OT at Vision Expo East 2018 (16–18 March).

The Belgian based company’s big ambitions are born out of its work to produce 3D-printed ophthalmic lenses – a world first.

Set up in 2009, the company describes its technology as “unique and highly accurate,” allowing the manufacture of lenses without the need for surfacing and polishing. This is said to combine the benefits of eliminating operational inefficiencies and creating “perfectly customisable products.”

Mr van Abeelen told OT that at present the US company already has two 3D printers, each 5m in length.

Having this experience was important when they launched in Europe at Mido 2018, the COO explained: “We have got the evidence to say to our Europe market that we are working in the US.”

Reflecting on Luxexcel’s strategy for roll-out, Mr van Abeelen told OT that “we are in a luxury situation; we are selecting our customers, not the other way around.”

Expanding on this approach, he added that high volume is not the area the company is targeting, preferring “low output innovation-led partnerships, for example around four lenses an hour.” 

“And the ability to design your own lenses will appeal to clinicians we believe,” he said.

Asked if the company recognised itself as a disruptor in the optical industry, Mr van Abeelen explained to OT that “we do not want to go head to head with the industry. Being a disruptor is not and never was a goal. What we do is never going to replace the manufacture of progressive lenses.”

Specsy eyewear

Flexible frames

For 3D eyewear frames producer, Specsy, Vision Expo East represented the company’s first foray into the international market.

Having built the company up in its native homeland of Canada, operations and marketing manager Ashley Barby told OT that this experience provides an all-important case study that shows how their technology can work in optical practices globally.

She explained to OT that the Specsy team was able to use its expertise for 3D printing in the field of healthcare to develop the product for optics.

The technology has been designed so that every element of the Specsy frame can be customisable, including the shape, colour, bridge fit, sides length, and the base curve.

Ms Barby added that the company’s use of the “latest 3D printing technology means we can produce every pair of customisable frames to order.”

The company’s next step will be to present at Silmo, Paris – another first for this ambitious company.

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