London, March 1st 2021 – HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology has been successfully used in a project in France to produce glasses for dyslexic children. Marketed by Atol les Opticiens and manufactured with HP technology, Lexilens smart glasses perfectly illustrate the convergence of two trends: the development of connected solutions designed to improve the lives of people with learning difficulties; and at the same time, the technical advances in additive manufacturing. Huge progress has been made in 3D printing: today, fully functional prototypes can be designed and high-quality, customised products can be mass produced to order and tailored to accurately match users’ requirements. Lexilens glasses are a perfect example of this.
Lexilens: a French innovation designed to help dyslexic children
Abeye, a start-up company developed by Atol Opticians, is behind the invention of Lexilens glasses that make reading easier for dyslexic children. These 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 entirely in 3D using HP Multi Jet Fusion technology, and then assembled. “The manufacturing process for Lexilens 3D printed glasses is remarkable as it is the first printed multi-component product with such a complex assembly,” explains Emilio Juárez, EMEA Sales Director, HP 3D Multi Jet Fusion Business. “As there are no less than 9 components, our partner Erpro’s expertise was extremely important in the context of developing multi-component products, where assembly groups must be managed without compromising the quality of the final product.” explains Emilio.
An ecosystem of experts focused on 3D printing
In France, collaborative work between partners who are experts in their fields (research, start-ups, manufacturers, distribution networks, etc.) is giving rise to solutions that leverage new technologies for the benefit of mankind. It was Atol and Abeye that approached the specialist Erpro, a pioneer in France in the mass production of 3D printed products. Abeye singled out Erpro for several reasons: the range of its 3D manufacturing technologies, the quality and diversity of post-processes available, and above all, its industrial capacity to take on both complex and large-scale projects. “Indeed, 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. Abeye is now looking for further opportunities to develop this project outside of the French market.
The pre-production stage consisted of testing the design of the components produced and then optimising the production job (orientation, placement, density optimisation, 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 speedily produce different iterations before choosing the right technology and the right post-processes, with support from Erpro and HP resulting in an optimal end product. “We are delighted to have been involved in the Lexilens project. This is a genuine opportunity for the Erpro Group to utilise its expertise in 3D printing to develop an innovative and people-oriented product”, said Loïc Cliquennois.
The decision to use HP 3D technology
The three main criteria that led to Abeye and Atol choosing HP Multi Jet Fusion technology were price competitiveness, together with the solution’s unparalleled accuracy and productivity. This technology is rapidly emerging as a viable alternative to traditional manufacturing processes. It enables innovative solutions to be developed with a fast time-to-market. Furthermore, it guarantees high quality and repeatability for large volumes of products made to order.
“Additive manufacturing is advantageous because it fulfils 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”, specifies Emilio Juárez.
Available since autumn exclusively at Atol les Opticiens
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 in 2021. The glasses have been available since last autumn, from €399 including VAT, exclusively in Atol stores in France.
“Abeye has designed and manufactured a product based on French scientific research. We are reclaiming our industrial future through tools such as 3D printing, not unlike dyslexic children who are taking learning back into their own hands through Lexilens. Being independent to achieve our vision is crucial to helping everyone reach their full potential”, states Michael Kodochian, CEO of Abeye.
“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.
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Source: HP Inc.