Additive Manufacturing Strategies

New 3D Printed Xchanger Eyewear Collection is Light, Resistant, and Customized for Athletes

ST Medical Devices

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3D printed eyewear is becoming more common–and as people realize, like a pair of shoes, not every pair of glasses will fit an individual the same way either; in fact, I know some people who have problems finding the correct frames, and because of this, they don’t wear their glasses when they need to. Another major challenge in eyewear is when one is performing sports. I have tried all kinds of different styles for prescription sunglasses, from tiny lenses to big ones, in an effort to find the right pair for my needs when running.

Hmm… I wonder if there’s a 3D printed solution to athletic eyewear problems?

Well, it appears there is. This month, at Paris’ Silmo optical fair, a new collection of 3D printed sports eyewear won the prestigious Silmo d’Or Award for sports equipment. The SEIKO Xchanger collection is a collaboration among SEIKO Optical Europe, Hoet Design Studio, and Materialise. Of course, since the glasses are 3D printed, there’s an emphasis on performance too. Athletes are encouraged to exchange frame components to fit their own needs–hence the name ‘Xchanger.’

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Alireza Parandian of Materialise has this to say about the Xchanger design process:

“From the sketch table to introduction at Silmo, it took SEIKO, Hoet and Materialise six months of intensive collaboration to get a complete product ready to market with the high standards that SEIKO expects. Our anatomical fitting software suite was used to resize the frames despite the high curvature of the lenses and other requirements. We’ve worked hard on making the most of 3D Printing for the Xchanger collection.”

An anatomically fitting software suite to design eyeglasses for athletes sounds like what it would take to avoid the annoying problems of ill-fitting glasses sliding down our noses when we get sweaty. Hmmm…. this really could be an improvement! Designed to be modular, the Xchanger has five frame sizes and two temple sizes, and each component has nine colors. Like other customized, 3D printed items, like shoewear, this creates many variations. You are sure to find the size and color that’s perfect for you. Another feature is the inclination angle, and you can also choose that based on the sport you play.

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So, appearance and fit are covered, but what about durability? Of course, the 3D printing allows for flexible and strong material that is also light. Don’t worry about these features, they sound covered: Xchanger frames are printed lighter than titanium and stronger than acetate because they are made with bio-compatible material that is resistant and light. A super-resistant coat tops off the bio-compatible material.

After that, you are good to go once you do a real measurement of your head, look at components, and choose colors. There are just so many possibilities for athletic eyewear that you may actually look forward to wearing glasses now!

What are your thoughts on this new eyewear collection?  Let us know in the Xchanger forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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