How 3D Printing Will Revolutionize Eyewear

Article by Kelly Clancy updated October 17, 2017


When you walk into an eyewear store, chances are it took about 18 months for that eyewear company to develop every single one of those frames you see on the shelves. Now consider that eyewear manufacturers may release up to 150 new frame designs to market every week. Together, the top eyewear manufacturers across the globe will release over 12,000 new designs this year alone, covering sunglasses, reading and prescription glasses to smart glasses, sportswear and safety-wear.

3D printing eyewear

From 18 Months to 8 Weeks

Imagine the potential paradigm shift then, if you could cut a whopping 15 months from that development & production cycle.

A time-to-market of only eight weeks or less is what Stratasys is talking about as they released a new rapid prototyping solution for eyewear at TCT Birmingham. The solution consists of a brand new 3D printing material, VeroFlex™, which is printed on the Stratasys J750 multi-color, multi-material 3D printer.

Unlike anything available on the market today, this full RP solution offers a unique value combination.

3D printing eyewear

Ability to Rapidly Simulate Virtually Any Frame Color and Texture Design

Check out the amazing range of colors and combinations of colors, opacities, transparencies and textured effects that you can achieve by the various combination of 6 VeroFlex materials in Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, White, Black, and Clear, from wood-grains, to smoked glass, to a world of different geometrical and freeform combinations.

3D printing eyewear

This capability allows eyewear designers to explore new, innovative ideas that in the normal flow of things, would often remain as just ideas. Now they can be brought to life, handled, displayed, and approved for development. The design is rejected by the focus group? No problem. Simply modify and print it again – each iteration taking just a few hours. Until it is perfect.

3D printing eyewear

Ability to Functionally Test Frame Prototypes Like the Real Thing

The VeroFlex material has been specially formulated not only to encapsulate the complexities of eyewear design, but also the functional tests that they need to pass. The material, which comes in 6 colors, provides a carefully calibrated flexibility and durability for eyewear tests, namely:

  • Drop tests
  • Lens mounting
  • Stress tests
  • Wear-ability testing

3D printing eyewear

The Verdict: Delivering Immediate Value for Eyewear Designers and Manufacturers

According to Mike Vasquez, Founder and CEO of 3Degrees research company:

“The eyewear market continues to expand, driven by new technologies, demand for customization and growing addressable markets. As the industry seeks to maximize its opportunity, Stratasys’ prototyping solutions for frames and eyewear accessories — which will cut time to market by upwards of 80%– will be an attractive solution that is able to deliver immediate value for users looking to make parts with a high degree of mechanical function and appearance.”

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Kelly Clancy