Customized glasses of your own design for everyone. This is the vision of the Czech company Onyx vision, which has introduced eyeglass frames designed in a web application and printed
on a 3D printer at the Institute for Nanomaterials, Advanced Technologies and Innovations (CXI)
in Liberec. The frames can be designed for casual wear or for sports activities. Their bet
on innovation has paid off and the spectacle frames have been in production using 3D printing
for 3 years already.
Glasses made to measure by 3D printing. The kind you can't get in any optics shop.
The customer can choose shapes and colors that are not possible to produce conventionally
or would be too expensive. This option is also very practical if the glasses are broken or even lost. The company has the customer's original data and can print all frames immediately. The frames are available to the customer within one week. It is a quickly available replacement, even after several years. Conventional spectacle frame manufacturers do not provide this service; shapes and designs change over the years, they are subject to fashion trends and in 3-4 years something else is being worn and the frames the customer is used to wear are no longer available forcing the customer to buy new ones.
"When you buy glasses, they are not customized and the choice is limited. If you have a handicap on your face or want a different color of frames that's not available, it gets complicated with traditional manufacturers. That's why we were approached by an optician, Mr. Bohumil Nagy,
and together we thought about designing a customized solution for spectacle frames and their complete production. In cooperation with Mr. Nagy and his many years of experience in the optical industry, we designed suitable processes for the design and the subsequent production. Specifically, how to obtain the shape of the model and what material or technology to use
for printing," says Jiří Šafka, a 3D printing laboratory specialist at the Institute for Nanomaterials, Advanced Technologies and Innovations (CXI) in Liberec. With the support of several innovation vouchers from the Liberec Region, procedures, technologies and materials were further designed to actually test the mechanical properties. Like any development, the spectacle frames produced by 3D printing are the result of teamwork of all the laboratory staff: they contributed their ideas and were responsible for a specific part of the research.
Jiří Šafka and his colleagues prepare prototypes on the HP MJF 4200 3D printer with Fusion Jet technology.
At the beginning of the Onyx vision journey was the idea of Bohumil Nagy, who has more than
20 years of experience in optics and wanted to find a new way to innovate the production
of glasses. The aim of this collaboration with CXI was to initially work out how to produce 3D printed glasses, what shapes could be printed and what could be "permitted" using the selected technology in order to achieve the desired mechanical properties. At the same time, they also focused on other operations - the so-called post processing, i.e. how to complete the whole model of the frames. In addition to improving the durability and overall functionality of the glasses; they also addressed the visual quality of the parts to make the frames look good and meet design standards. Today, the collaboration is so close that the partners are not only addressing
the mechanical properties of the frames, but also other developments, such as testing titanium alloy accessories and other innovations for spectacle frames. The 3D printing lab team
is develops the design of spectacle frames and creates prototypes using the HP MJF 4200 3D printer. Serial production is provided by other partners in the Czech Republic.
You can design your customized Onyx glasses online: on your computer or on your mobile phone. Just upload your face via the camera, then design your glasses in the configurator, including shape, thickness of the frames or color. The ONYX software automatically recalculates the size
of the frames according to your head and face. Thousands of combinations can be tested. After that, the selected configuration is saved and the customer can visit an optician to complete the whole process; an expert optician will help with the selection and completes the order.
„The software prepares print data and sends them to us. We then perform 3D printing, finishing and assemble the sides and the front, which are provided by Onyx. We are not the only ones working on this process. There are also other partners who have their own production technologies. We have a professional Multi-Jet fusion technology at our disposal and focus more on the dark tones of the resulting colors; we start with black and then continue with other colors - dark blue, green, red and all the darker tones of these colors," explains Jiří Šafka.
Glasses made using the 3D printing method are also unique for users who have an anomaly, such as a scar that they want to cover up and standard glasses do not allow it. This is a way
to affordably make your "customization" including color, texture, and application of images
on the sides of the frames.
The cooperation on production is unique for the 3D printing laboratory and Jiří Šafka sums up
its benefits in few following words: "This cooperation is interesting to us because it is something different than what we know as engineers; it's a different field than the automotive or aerospace industry. It is a completely different segment of development and production and gave us the opportunity to try out new processes, technologies and testing methods. For example with sports goggles, we underwent cyclical stress and so-called fatigue tests, in which we find out how many movements the frames can handle in terms of hinge flexibility before they get damaged.
We measured over 350,000 cycles.“