About 11.5 million people in the U.S. and 700 million people worldwide are diagnosed as Dyslexic according to Dyslexia Action (2017) and Dyslexia International (2017). For children, this condition can be frustrating as they navigate through education. 3D printing is offering a solution in the form of glasses marketed by Atol les Opticiens and manufactured with HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology.
The Lexilens smart glasses illustrate how connected solutions can improve the lives of people with learning difficulties in addition to showing the technical advances in additive manufacturing, such as the ability to produce fully functional, high-quality prototypes and custom products that can be mass produced and tailored to accurately match users’ requirements.
Abeye, a start-up company developed by Atol Opticians, is behind the invention of Lexilens glasses that make reading easier for dyslexic children. These battery operated electronic glasses have active and tinted lenses which filter out the mirror images that cause reading difficulties. The lenses are activated by simply pressing a button which triggers the electronic system incorporated in the temples. This disruptive operation is based on a fundamental French scientific discovery that links dyslexia with the eyes and the brain. The glasses are simple to use and provide an instant and universal effect, irrespective of which language is spoken. The battery lasts for 25 hours and can be recharged using a USB-C cable.
The Lexilens frame, which weighs just 35 grams, is printed using HP Multi Jet Fusion technology and then assembled. It consists of nine 3D printed components.
While Atol and Abeye were involved in the design, it was Erpro, a pioneer in France in the mass production of 3D printed products, that prints the glasses. Abeye singled out Erpro for the range of its 3D manufacturing technologies, the quality and diversity of post-processes available, and its industrial capacity to take on complex and large-scale projects.
“Each 3D printed component has its specific dimensional tolerances, so we have to work with an adapted dimension string methodology to make this 3D puzzle take shape,” explains Loïc Cliquennois, R&D Project Manager at Erpro Group.
The pre-production stage consisted of testing the design of the components produced and then optimizing the production job (orientation, placement, density optimization, quality and volume) using Magics CAD/CAM software. The production stage took place on HP Multi Jet Fusion 5200 printers using PA11 material. Once sandblasted, the frames go through a post-process: part of the frame is smoothed through a physicochemical process and the other components are tribo-finished and then tinted in specific baths. Optional clip-in lenses for vision correction are available if required.
Abeye was able to test different prototypes and quickly produce different iterations before choosing the right technology and the right post-processes, with support from Erpro and HP.
The three main criteria that led to Abeye and Atol choosing HP Multi Jet Fusion technology were price competitiveness, together with the solution’s accuracy and productivity.
“Additive manufacturing is advantageous because it fulfills an innovative and often critical requirement. It breaks away from traditional manufacturing processes through the use of local and made-to-order production, while preserving the required properties,” says Emilio Juárez.
Atol les Opticiens and Abeye are currently marketing Lexilens eyewear for children in an effort to give them an inclusive solution as early as possible in their development. A model for adults will be developed later in 2021. The glasses have been available since last autumn, from €399 including VAT, exclusively in Atol stores in France.
“Atol Opticians is committed to delivering visual wellness for everyone and at all stages of their lives. 3D printing has reduced manufacturing lead times for Lexilens, enabling us to commit ourselves to dyslexic children as early as possible and help them unlock their full potential for improved educational and social inclusion,” concludes Eric Plat, CEO of Atol les Opticiens.