Luxexcel and its 3D printing of glasses caught Meta’s eye

The American technology giant Meta has discreetly acquired the Belgian-Dutch company Luxexcel, which is active in 3D printing of complex spectacle lenses.

Such an operation does not happen every day: the American tech giant Meta (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.) recently bought a Campinese company. The deal went completely unnoticed for a few weeks. Goal? Luxexcel, specialized in 3D printing technology for complex spectacle lenses.



Meta would have paid a high price to buy Luxexcel.

The American group would have paid a high price to buy Luxexcel. Good news for the Flemish treasury since PMV, the public holding company in the northern part of the country, has had a significant capital gain at the sale of its shares (15.06% of the capital) sold, it is said, at a very high price (but not disclosed). PMV entered the capital of the Campinese company in 2015 and then injected new funds into it in 2017 and 2018.

Among the other (former) shareholders of Luxexcel there are also Dutch and German venture capitalists, but also the American manufacturer of electronic chip inspection systems KLA Tencorwho in 2008 became the owner of the Leuven-based company Icos Vision Systems.

Zeeland

Luxexcel manufactures a 3D printer capable of producing prescription lenses, but also smart sunglasses. The company, of Zeeland origin, settled in Flanders many years ago, unable to recruit enough technical profiles in its market. It is one of many growth companies that have moved into the empty former Philips buildings in Turnhout.

In its early days, Luxexcel had developed technology for many potential applications: lenses for cameras, smartphones, military equipment, car lights, glasses, etc. Subsequently, it focused on the eyewear market. It “prints” glasses using UV light, not by superimposing layers as 3D printers usually do.

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millions of euros

For many years, Luxexcel had a loss of 3.7 million euros in 2021 on a negative gross margin (revenue minus costs) of 0.2 million euros.

The annual balance sheets of Luxexcel’s main subsidiary have shown negative results for several years. In 2021, it recorded a loss of 3.7 million euros on a negative gross margin (revenue minus costs) of 0.2 million euros. Luxexcel was led by Hans Streng for a long time before a new CEO took over: Fabio Esposito, an Italian who had previously headed the American manufacturer of 3D printers, Solidscape.

Ray Ban

Smart glasses are not new to Meta. The American giant and the luxury group EssilorLuxottica have already developed such glasses together, which they launched in our country last March.

The duo’s glasses have the look of classic Ray-Ban models. But their frame is full of electronics: two cameras – each with a resolution of 5 megapixels –, microphones and speakers to be able to make calls, but also to listen to music or podcasts.

They also allow you to take photos and videos handheld, with a single push of the frame’s right arm and by voice command. The photos taken end up in the associated app, where they can be processed and uploaded to Meta platforms (Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp), but not to media outside the group, such as Twitter and TikTok. These smart glasses were supposed to be a stepping stone to real AR (augmented reality) glasses, which should allow their wearer to put a virtual “layer” on the real world.

Ray-Ban Stories is not the first attempt to popularize smart camera glasses. Google Glass or Snap Shows (parent company of Snapchat) preceded them, without success.

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