The market for eyeglass frames is one where new design releases are critical to encourage customers to invest in new products, but lengthy design cycles (18 months or more) can make it difficult to get new frames to market quickly.
Stratasys hopes to change that with a new rapid prototyping system for eyewear that could cut up to 15 months from the development and production cycle. The VeroFlex Rapid Prototyping Eyewear Solution includes the Stratasys J750 multi-material 3D printer and VeroFlex 3D printing material created specifically for this application.
For large eyewear manufacturers who produce thousands of frame designs each year, the solution could provide a huge efficiency boost while helping to reduce costs and speed time to market.
VeroFlex provides the stiffness and flexibility required for eyewear designs, according to the company. The material also performs well in the drop tests, lens-mounting, stress test, and wearability tests used by eyewear manufacturers.
“The eyewear market continues to expand, driven by new technologies, demand for customization and growing addressable markets,” said Mike Vasquez, founder and CEO at the digital manufacturing consultancy 3Degrees. “As the industry seeks to maximize its opportunity, Stratasys’ prototyping solutions for frames and eyewear accessories — which can cut time-to-market by upwards of 80 percent — 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.”
Users can combine the six VeroFlex materials to create solid, opaque, transparent and color shades, and simulate different textures.
A number of other companies are using 3D printing in the eyewear space. Luxexcel can print ophthalmic lenses, and Powder & Heat prints custom luxury frames. Seiko Optical Europe has also used 3D printing to create a custom line of sports glasses.