3D-printed bespoke glasses
It’s now nearly 20 years since 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, revolutionized our world. The very epitome of creativity, the optical industry was quick to seize the design and technology possibilities offered by 3D printing.
Giant steps forward in 3D printing
Fully operational 3D printers first emerged in the 2000s, initially designed for small print runs and intended for use in industry. It took nearly 10 years for additive manufacturing to go beyond prototyping to the fully fledged production of final parts.
Today, 3D printing is ubiquitous. From machining components and architectural models to everyday objects and even chocolate, technical advances have made anything possible.
There are multiple 3D printing techniques, but the vast majority are based on building up a volume layer by layer, using a heated polymer that needs time to cool. Recent innovations such as laser sintering enable the direct use of a solid material and pave the way for metal printing.
A new tool for designer brands
Nowadays, spectacle manufacturers who make frames entirely by hand are increasingly rare. When you see the possibilities offered by 3D printing, though, there seems to be no reason to be concerned by this observation. 3D printers are tools that considerably reduce the time it takes to produce a pair of spectacles, help to reduce cutting waste, and guarantee an end result that is always identical. Designer brands have wasted no time in seizing this versatile tool: here’s a little overview, in 2D!
From ic! berlin comes I See Exoskeleton, a different kind of collection. The glasses are 3D-printed as an integral unit, meaning there’s no need for assembly and offering new design possibilities that the brand was quick to explore.
A little further north, in Copenhagen, is Monoqool, a spectacle-maker specialized in 3D printing. Its goal is to use technology to create glasses that are both innovative and inspired by the best of Danish design.
An increasingly accessible technology!
3D printing isn’t just for well-established brands, though. Lower production costs mean that small spectacle-makers can also try it out. While the technology is no substitute for expertise, its accessibility opens up new routes to production that should not be overlooked.
Designing an object for additive manufacturing requires specific skills. Of course, spectacle-making knowhow is still essential: you don’t design a pair of glasses without considering a variety of parameters such as the bridge, the lugs, how the lenses will be inserted, and so on. However, the design work is now done using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) modeling software.
This CAD software can be somewhat difficult to master, with a level of complexity that depends on its precision and the number of features it contains. This is enabling a wide variety of designers to embrace eyewear, much to our delight!
Featured image: Monoqool
Learn more about custom-made glasses !
- 3D modeling for eyewear
- 3D-printed bespoke glasses