3D printing isn’t new in the optical industry but the vast and fast improvements of the 3D printing technologies of today are continuing to expand and encompass just about every area of our lives. In the past and present, 3D printing was used to do prototyping of frames, glasses, and more. This allows for much time, money, and effort to be saved so that the industry pros can focus their attention on better service and new innovations.
With the addition of WiFi and Bluetooth to the new 3D printing devices the templates that can be emailed or downloaded or even file shared makes it easier for people in the optical industry to rapidly get what they want, tweak the software designs if need be, and then go ahead and print in the colors and style s that they want. This brings the overall costs of the products down and saves the consumer a lot of money and worry.
Designers and engineers in the industry can now have their prototypes scanned and photorealistically rendered in the software. A bit of tweaking here and there makes the frames just the way to be and form fitted if need be. Companies that are at the forefront of the optical industry who use 3D printing and scanning technology are buying up various technologies and companies for better administration and flow. This is good because ti ties u many loose ends in the industry. By having more things in-house, time wasted with corporate time waiting is gone and now the companies can focus on better products and service.
The consumer benefits greatly here. With ophthalmology and ophthalmology related equipment and technologies advancing as they do, the use of 3D printing and 3D scanning are easy to implement and bring great bonuses in the future. Speaking of the future, as optical industry pros gain more knowledge on how to use 3D printing, they’ll be coming up with their own ideas and so on. As they progress they’ll be troubleshooting areas that others can’t and that means industry precise engineering and standards by with others can have applied to their needs and wants. In the old days engineers and designers had to wait for prototypes to be completed as well as the extra tie it took to do finishing work. Nowadays, those steps are no longer needed and that means better efficiency and lower costs overall.
The leap forward in the 3D printing technologies is so fast nowadays that it appears like every month there’s a new piece of software or a new piece of hardware. Prices on the hardware are coming down and performance is going up. We’re now able to uses materials that we couldn’t just a year or two ago. There are 3D printers that can now print out food like candies and chocolates. For the optical industry this means making frames out of the various metals, plastics, and composites. In addition, lenses can be crafted on the spot. That kind of precision and manufacturing is a dream come true and will only improve in years to come. One day soon you might easily pick out your frames online or via an app and send that info to your optometrist whereby they can manufacture your glasses on the spot.
These technological possibilities are only the next step in 3D printing and there’s no telling where the industry will be in five to ten years.