Anyone who wears glasses or contact lenses dreads the day when they have to be replaced, because corrective eyewear is expensive. So are quality sunglasses; if you want a pair that won’t break within a month, you generally have to shell out some money. That may not always be the case, though. 3D printing is changing multiple industries by lowering costs and making products more accessible, and the eyewear industry is no exception. Companies making 3D printed glasses are springing up everywhere, and one of the latest is Octobre71, a company that wasn’t even originally intended to be a company. It was created as a laboratory without any commercial purpose, simply to test the feasibility of optical 3D printing. Eventually, the lab’s products got to the marketable stage, however, and a company was born.
Octobre71 used the service bureau Sculpteo for its 3D printed glasses, and found that it was able to produce eyewear, using SLS 3D printing with polyamide, that was 30% lighter than average, highly resistant and fully customizable.
“Sculpteo uses the best machines and 3D printing processes on the market today,” said Christophe Mouty of Octobre71.
Using SLS and polyamide makes the 3D printing process fast, feasible and inexpensive. An Octobre71 designer will create a 2D image, which is then turned into a 3D file by an expert and sent to Sculpteo for 3D printing.
“3D printing constantly evolves and tomorrow it will be even faster and more qualitative (with multicolor 3D printing and improved finishing options for instance),” said Mouty. “Only the ones who will have started the adventure today will be ready to sell their new innovative products as soon as possible. So don’t wait until it’s too late to get started with 3D printing!”
One of Octobre71’s values is local production; the company aims to bring production of eyewear back to France, which it is doing by using a French service bureau. In addition, Octobre71 only uses French interlocutors for software as well as manufacturing. 3D printing has allowed many countries to begin manufacturing more locally, rather than outsourcing; this is one of the biggest ways in which 3D printing really does have the potential to change the way things are made and industry is run.
“Industries have already noted: 3D printing and digital manufacturing are changing the rules of industrial manufacturing,” said Clément Moreau, CEO and Co-Founder of Sculpteo. “The agility, the quality, and the speed that these new technologies offer are major assets in ensuring an optimized production process.”
Octobre71 is now selling its glasses through its own website as well as through ELLE. They are attractive glasses, colorful and very thin, thanks again to the SLS 3D printing process, which allows for simultaneous strength and light weight.
“To achieve the 3D printed frames, we had to achieve a constant quality of production, with a technology that was initially created for unique parts,” Moreau told 3DPrint.com. “The partnership proves that 3D printing is truly used as an industrial manufacturing technology, not only for models and prototypes.”
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