The ability to 3D print eye wear is disrupting an industry that has not changed in quite sometime and is held by a very small subset of people. Exploring the ways 3D print eyewear can really take off in terms of customization of size, color, and even lens type.
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Seeing Through 3D Print Eyewear
I have been wanting to talk about 3D print eye wear since this past January at CES. It sounds like the coolest thing ever even through I haven’t worn eyeglasses since I was ten years old. There is a wonderful opportunity to 3D print eye wear and the eyewear industry is exploding. The idea that you are getting three frames and you try them all, but you choose one and then you get back your prescription is what is happening now and all those eyeglasses are under $100.
What they did with 3D print eyewear is that they turned it on in. The way that eyeglasses are manufactured is that there are extremely few sources in the manufacturing of it. Pretty much every pair of eye glasses you buy are just marked up and branded by another company, but they are really made by a small subset of people. That is different with sunglasses. For prescription eyeglasses, they are all made by this one company in Italy. We are not saying that its eyeglasses, but it is eyeglass frames.
You might think, “Well how difficult it is to make?” but the reality is that it is more about making your hinges strong. There is very little innovation that’s been going on there over the years. Eyeglasses may seem like small, simple, and the frame shouldn’t be very expensive, but there is a lot that goes into them. They have to be strong, especially with those hinges. There are tiny parts that are hard to manufacture. They make them in so many sizes and his is where it is interesting for the opportunity of 3D printing. The distance from ear to ear and straight across your head is different from one person to another person.
There are so many different aspects to it. The size to fit your head is one thing, and the distance from your pupil is different. That is something that they can adjust for when they make the lenses. Often, people fall in between these sizes.
With 3D printed frames for eyeglasses, you really can deal with this whole problem and have them be custom sized. There are some great new resources with it. Fuse Lenses is a great company I heard about, where they make this cool beveled edge. These fuse lenses are meant to come out and meant to be really inexpensive. You can go ahead and replace them if they get scratched. That is a cool idea. Combining the fused lenses with the 3D print eyewear frame is really nice. Think about all the options you have. You can pop the lenses to another one.
These are cool looking frames. Some of them are flexible. This is really a big deal. I love their scanning technology and how they fit the frame to my face.
What we are finding is looking at 3D printed eyewear frame designs is that there are some people that are like high end designers who design lots of different kinds of fashion accessories and things like that who have gotten into it. Michiel Cornelissen is a designer who has lots of different things and has a 3D printed eyeglass frame design called Wire Frame. It is a fairly simple one. The flexibility of material is really interesting. The frame is designed without hinges. They are made of really flexible materials. You bend them to put them in the case. The one I really liked was a partnership between Materialized and a designer that has little details around the frame edge. It appealed to me as a pattern person that I am.
It is taking advantage of 3D printing in a 3 dimensional way. It looks like basket weaving or some other kind of expanded wire mesh. It was something that was on Materialized and you can buy them. It is a really cool design where you don’t have to make a frame eyeglass from a single material and cut it on a shape. Within the fame around the lens, in that cross section, it is really 3 dimensional in its structure. It is very intricate and very well done.
I went searching on Pinshape and Thingiverse, and I have to say that they have the ugliest eyeglasses out there. I would love to have 3D print eyewear done for me. There are so many interesting things out there, just like using a precious metal. There is really great inspiration on the idea of doing this. We went into some that are like a separation or border at the top. With the scanning technology, we don’t have it yet, but I am dying for the Bevel. That can really do a 3 dimensional picture. We did a podcast interview with the CEO of that company. It is a scanning accessory of a smartphone. You can take a 3 dimensional scan with your cellphone of a person or an object.
PQ eyewear is a company by Ron Arad. This is in CES. I didn’t totally love the frames there, but I love how they were scanned. They have an impressive display with three large screen TVs, and a couple of iPads. They will scan you. They scan Tracy’s bust and they were to simulate any of their eyeglass frames on you with any lenses of any color. You really got an opportunity to look and see what these would look on you.
You basically scan yourself and then they do them on your website. They went from one side to another. It certainly was an impressive system. They have many 3D print eyewear options to try on. The eye glass design is a cross section for the arms that go over your ear. It is just relying on flexibility of material. The PQ Eyewear has a bunch of designs where they create a structure on the arm of the eyeglass where the physical geometry that is 3D printed enables that to bend in the area. It is a nesting P and Q. That is what their name is inspired. It is like creating and printing a material of sorts. You can see layer lines of FFF on them. They are using several different processes here.
What is great about that to me is they are presenting some design ideas and physical opportunities to differentiate eyeglasses as well. Manufacturing techniques have been the same for a pretty long time. This is eye opening for how much opportunity there is to create something new. I admire what they are doing because of it. I applaud it. I think it is great. It is time to be changing out this industry. There is nothing more personal to me than my sunglasses. I have a pair that is known for holding my hair back. I wear them when I do not need them. To me, it is the biggest accessory. Maybe this is the answer for me.
- Fuse Lenses
- Michiel Cornelissen
- Materialise – Behind the New Frames in the 3D-Printed Cabrio Collection
- PQ Eyewear
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