New technologies are the field where evolution and changes are the most noticeable. And such are the 3D systems of augmented reality – the devices are constantly upgraded to guarantee the highest image quality. The combination of virtual 3D reality and non-virtual reality is the result of a collaboration between Sinterit and Professor Rigo Herold – a German researcher working on developing AR technology as well as on the design of data glasses.
A Case Study by Sinterit
Glasses printed in SLS 3D technology allow for precise assembly of components and maximum comfort of using the equipment. Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that connects the real world, most commonly recorded by camera lenses, with 3D imaging. History of AR dates back to 1968, but it was the 21st century that brought considerable progress in the development of AR. With the ability to interact in real time and freedom of movement in three dimensions, this technology is often used in entertainment, but also in medicine, aviation and automotive industries. The Augmented Reality also can be used in other fields of industry, to improve tools and machines, and to increase efficiency.
Augmented Reality enriches the real world with additional, contextual information. Such solutions have been used for many years in industrial applications. Thanks to the AR technology, AR users working on complex systems can thoroughly review the complex components of individual tools or take a closer look at any given stage of the manufacturing process. In the case of complicated manual work, the data glasses allow to keep the hands free and use the updated information that appears in the glasses (e.g. sudden jumps or drops in temperature or pressure) to respond to this in time. The device can also detect airborne contaminants, display relevant parameters of the environment, and suggest appropriate reactions.
Data glasses are not a new invention – for years large, heavy, covering most of the face models have been used. However, the standard size of the eyepiece does not always work in the industry. Working in harsh conditions requires engineers to wear appropriate clothing – a protective suit and a helmet with a mask to protect the face from external factors. The advantages of using AR technology in the industry and the need to combine the data glasses and a special helmet inclined Professor Rigo Herold to look for alternative rims for electronic eyepieces. The requirements were high – the rims had to be lightweight but quite precise, to be able to set all the necessary elements in.
Resistance to high temperature and durability were also important factors, especially in the case of people exposed to harmful substances. From the outset 3D printing seemed to be the best solution, but choosing the right technology required a lot of testing. It turned out that the optimum parameters are guaranteed by SLS 3D printing (laser powder sintering). Originally, Rigo Herold used a service provider to print the ordered parts. However, this unnecessarily lengthened the process of project implementation. The solution to this problem, both for practical and economic reasons, was found in the Sinterit Lisa desktop printer.
SLS makes it possible
The equipment capabilities have been confirmed by the quality of SLS prints (their durability, precision, and resistance to external factors), and have allowed full freedom of creation. Elements that did not need additional assembly, printed without support structures, worked out in the production of ‘smart glasses’. Due to the industrial purpose of the data glasses, it was also very important to be able to print both short series of identical, small products and tailor-made items for future users. The capabilities offered by SLS made it possible to design a device that can be directly mounted on a helmet or separately adjusted to be used simultaneously with other necessary equipment. The SLS technology which guarantees full freedom of creation worked out perfectly in the case of such diversity of demand for individual modules.
Data glasses printed with SLS Sinterit Lisa printers have a number of additional benefits that make them much more convenient and practical than using the well-known large AR goggles. Extremely important for the industrial version of the eyewear is the shock resistance and flexibility in combination with many of the protective components (glasses/mask, helmet and sound-isolating earphones).
Sinterit manufactures desktop selective laser sintering 3D printers. The company was founded by ex-Google employees, has experience on the market from 2014 and delivers professional, high-precision printers to customers around the world. In the three years it is on the market, Sinterit Lisa has printed multiple 3D products for various applications. In 2017, Sinterit has secured an additional EUR 1.1m funding from additive manufacturer FIT AG. For more information visit the Sinterit website.
The lightness of the material used for print guarantees comfort not only for those who intend to use glasses for advanced work in factories. The 3D printed data glasses are also suitable for use by deaf people: when using the glasses in the cinema they can watch movies (even in their native language) with specially prepared subtitles that are only visible within AR technology. Apps related to augmented reality are also increasingly used in tourism (enriching walks in museums or city streets) as well as in entertainment, (Pokémon Go for example) reaching a very wide audience.
Implementing new solutions with SLS
Printing the glasses on the desktop printer brought the possibility of their fast production, also on individual orders. Such projects prove that it is worth looking for new solutions and implementing them in the immediate surrounding. It is possible with the help of small desktop devices such as Sinterit. Transferring professional industrial printing onto a desk shortens the distance between the designer and the production so that all processes have a chance to run even faster. Accelerating development through the direct realization of ideas guarantees the success. Just think what else you can print and, as if using the data glasses, further expand your reality.