Materials and Mindsets: A Beautiful Blend for Sustainable Eyewear and for JF Rey
Jules Verne can take some credit for JF Rey’s recent ‘Nautinew’ creation. The ground-breaking design of his famous NAUTILUS submarine heavily influenced the collection’s imaginative name. But the true inspiration behind this innovative eyewear concept is 3D printing. More specifically, a desire from brand founder Jean-François Rey and his design team, to see what creative and commercial potential could be unlocked by mixing 3D-printed parts with traditionally crafted materials. Materialise helped them to find out.
For leading French eyewear design house JF Rey, 3D printing is nothing new. The design team, in particular head designer Olivier Mollard, have been using the technology to prototype for some time. “For me,” Olivier explains, “3D printing is an incredibly powerful tool. Being able to physically realize creative inspirations; to tangibly see how they look and feel, can have such a big impact on the design process.
“On paper, and even on screen with 3D digital renderings, you can see how a design should look. Holding it in your hands and seeing how it rests on the face, you can go ‘yes, that’s the one!’.”
Which is exactly how Nautinew, JF Rey’s first step beyond prototyping and into commercial production, began.
When creativity and sustainability come together
It all started when Jean-François Rey posed a creative challenge to his talented team. He asked them to put forward innovative concepts that leveraged the materials and design freedoms available through 3D printing, with the traditional techniques and metals famously used by the brand for decades.
Olivier recalls, “I developed several imaginative proposals and using our in-house facilities we were able to print polyamide prototypes to discuss and present to the sales team for feedback, before finally narrowing our choices down to the perfect one”. This “one” became the Nautinew concept, a visually exciting and seamless blend of contrasting geometries and materials.
The chosen concept was also hugely exciting for another important reason — it’s clever and highly sustainable use of materials. “It’s not our desire to re-invent what we do here at JF Rey, to swap one production technique for another,” explains Jean-François. “It is our desire to push boundaries. Not just in terms of innovation, creativity and craftsmanship, but also in how we optimize materials and resources. We want to launch imaginative eyewear that has sustainability and social responsibility designed into its DNA.
“The Nautinew concept we developed is a great example of this,” adds Jean-François. “It pairs a frame structure already in stock with a polyamide 3D-printed shell, the combination of contrasting but complementary shapes and structures evolving into something entirely new. The transformative nature of 3D printing has a lot to offer in this respect. With 3D printed components, you have the ability to adjust digitally, prototype, and print exactly what you need, finished the way your designers have imagined it — all with minimal waste.”
From concept to commercial reality
With the concept chosen JF Rey set about collaborating with their preferred 3D printing partner, Materialise, to bring this innovative idea to life. To make it a commercial reality.
“I have a background in engineering and design, and also studied 3D printing many years ago,” explains Olivier, “so I have a good understanding of the tolerances and precision you need. But what’s great about working with Materialise is that they also put their in-depth knowledge on the table. When I sent over our proposed Nautinew file we quickly received recommendations back from a technical perspective, with advice on adjustments that could help further optimize design for the print process. It’s a very collaborative way of working. A mix of skills and mindsets.”
With the design finalized, Materialise printed and supplied samples for test assembly and validation at JF Rey’s manufacturing facility in France. Olivier adds, “it was a really quick process. With 3D printing you win time so that you can really focus on fine tuning the technical aspects and perfecting the end result.”
It’s not our desire to re-invent what we do here at JF Rey. It is our desire to push boundaries. We want to launch imaginative eyewear that has sustainability and social responsibility designed into its DNA.
– Jean-François Rey, brand founder of JF Rey and CEO of Maison Jean-François Rey