Meta has bought Luxexcell. Facebook owner Meta has bought Belgian-Dutch optics 3D printing firm Luxexcell. The firm´s proprietary 3D printing processes can make optically clear lenses. Founded in 2009 Luxexcell´s resin based processes have been used to make eyeglasses, LCD screens, waveguides, lenses with integrated projection areas for AR, lenses with integrated electronics which can be placed in during the print, prescription lenses, lenses with integrated LCD film, bifocal lenses and armatures.
Luxexcell may have been a supplier to Meta on its Project Aria. Aria is meant to be a testbed for capturing the wearers´ immediate surroundings and building Meta´s 3D assets. The firm reportedly had less than $3 million in revenue but there must have been something in Luxexcell´s technology that interested Meta. By integrating technology in lenses and also allowing them to be prescription lenses in a mass customized way while also integrating screens and LCD the 3D printing firm ticks a lot of boxes for Meta. With Luxexcell Meta could in a mass customized way have a scalable process to make unique lenses for its AR platforms. This could give the firm edge in manufacturing and usability. We often forget that as much as 70% of older people in wealthy nations need glasses, contacts or similar. This would often mean in AR and VR glasses that they would have to wear an additional pair of glasses beneath their AR or VR glasses in order to see them properly. In the US a quarter of children wear glasses or contacts. AR and VR headsets are bulky, sweaty and have low levels of comfort now. But, we all expect that they will become sleeker as technology progresses. Now this will of course be reduced if people still need to wear glasses beneath them. Indeed super sleek AR and VR glasses would be inhibited by this to a certain extent. With Luxexcell Meta can now give you a prescription AR or VR goggle set that can be lighter and sleeker and doesn’t require additional glasses on your nose and ear. This could increase wearer comfort. Additionally the company could integrated projection areas in the glasses and pick and place electronics inside the glasses during production. Optically clear 3D printing is problematic and Luxexcell has an advantage there, other processes that may lead to optically clear glasses not easily let chips, waveguides and batteries be placed inside them during printing. All this means that this could be a very smart acquisition for Meta letting it make more comfortable glasses for its meta verse play. Reportedly Meta spends $10 billion a year on creating the meta verse, so this is likely to be a rounding error for them. This is rumored to be a big payday however for investors KLA-Tencor, SET, PMV, Innovation Industries, Munich Venture Partners who put over $22 million in the firm.
The lesson here is that an invidivual firm´s ability to create optimal shapes could make winners out of much bigger firms in much bigger battles. We may only be a $15 billion industry but through better turbine blades and rocket engines we are the key technology in opportunities worth tens of billions. An optimal geometry may be the tip of the spear for new markets, new industries and new fortunes that have ramifications way beyond the 3D printing industry.
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