3D printed eye-wear is not a new concept, some talented designers have been pushing the boundaries in terms of original, stylized eyewear. Just some of the notable developments include Protos, Mykita, and Hoet’s metal eyewear. There is also separate developments on actual 3D printing of the optics, the lenses, by a clear leader in this field, LuXeXcel.
However, while all of these developments are significant, they are not necessarily applicable, or accessible to the millions of people that wear glasses out of necessity — or choice.
The latest 3D printing start-up in the area of eye-wear is looking to change that. Eyewear Kit is a new, inclusive, platform that aims to make it easy for anyone to source, and personalize, their own 3D printed eyewear — whether for prescription glasses, normal sunglasses or just as a fashion statement. The platform brings all of the necessary components together — 3D printed frames, lenses and customization.
At launch, there is an initial collection of designer frames, from Michiel Cornelissen, who is renowned for his work with 3D printing and understanding the processes and how to design for them. There are currently three designs:
As an example of Michiel’s experience in designing for 3D printing, the Hatch frames feature an intricate latticework that makes these glasses incredibly lightweight — and unmanufacturable using any other production method. According to Michiel: “They look like no eyewear you’ve ever seen.” What is more, the hinges are printed directly, so there is no assembly required for the legs. These ‘smart hinges’ fix themselves in position when the glasses are opened.
The premise behind Eyewear Kit is that you can select the 3D printed frames of your choice and determine your own colour (breadth of colours depend on choice of fulfillment service selected and, as you would expect, prices vary accordingly). From there users can then select their lenses of choice. Here there is a wide range on offer in terms of sun protection, full prescription, reading glasses, fun colour tints and more. Prices do vary again, but nothing (with the frames or lenses) that would cause you to raise an eyebrow, even compared with a walk-in optician’s outlet. This is what makes this platform so accessible. The site is easy to navigate, all options are clear and varied and user engagement is almost guaranteed once there.
While Michiel was invited to design the inaugural collection of frames, Eyewear Kit has opened up its platform to invite any designers to become involved with this new paradigm for retailing original eye-wear. They are encouraged to submit their 3D files to make them available via the site and share the rewards.
For me, while choice in styles is somewhat limited, this is a shift towards a more inclusive consumer 3D printing experience, and one that currently benefits from the talent of one of my favourite 3D printing designers.