Materialise and Vuzix, a leading supplier of smart glasses and augmented reality (AR) technology and products, 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 three.
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 utilize 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 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.
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 three months, compared to the eyewear industry’s typical 18-month design-to-shipment cycle.
“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.