The 3D-printed Cabrio collection, launched in Milan at MIDO2015, presents the added value of 3D Printing in the eyewear scene. The collection aims to achieve aesthetic ideals while also considering physiological compatibility and performance requirements. 3D Printing offers design freedom beyond the capability of conventional manufacturing and allows the Cabrio collection to feature small, complex geometries as well as a cellulose-like porous structure which results in an organic look and feel. Behind this collection is a symbiotic process of co-creation, and Materialise’s contribution to luxury consumer-grade product manufacturing.
This is a project which takes co-creation to its heart, by building on the core competencies of both partners. Hoet brought the philosophy behind this design and its extensive expertise on the eyewear market. To Hoet, eyewear in the Cabrio collection are not mere accessories but an artistic expression for the wearer. Spectacles don’t just change the way you see the world: they also change the way the world sees you. For Materialise, producing the frames, the goal is to find the ideal balance between the interaction of material properties, process parameters and technical design parameters. With this, Materialise hopes to achieve the best performance in appearance and functionality of the end product.
Following the design stage, the production process presented initial challenges to overcome before manufacturing could begin. The key requirements of repeatability and consistency, absolutely crucial to manufacturing series, call for different considerations in 3D Printing and specialized automation and control software. Therefore, we put our software program Materialise Streamics to the task of tracking and tracing every manufacturing step that each set of eyewear frames must undergo.
The manufacturing team worked to minimize variance and fine-tune tolerances of the 3D Printing technology through a series of steps, beginning with the dedication of some machines to the sole purpose of printing eyewear. Now Materialise has designated machines which are tuned specifically for 3D Printing eyewear frames. The manufacturing team also succeeded in honing the tolerances of the technology to a point that surpasses the expectations in the highly discerning eyewear sector.
Eyeglasses may have been worn for centuries, but 3D Printing brings them firmly into the 21st century with an inimitably modernist appeal. In keeping with this feature, Hoet requested a special finishing of matte black with an organic look through special treatment of the surface structure of the 3D-printed glasses so as to set the collection apart from conventionally manufactured eyewear.
This collaboration with Hoet catapults Materialise into the role of a manufacturer for luxury consumer grade products and opens up a whole new world of manufacturing and finishing processes on the very edge of 3D Printing technology. As always, the team at Materialise is consistently striving to broaden the portfolio to meet diverse needs and to understand the audience’s developing expectations from a high-end company like Hoet. The next range of designs, with added variety, will be launched in September 2015 at the Silmo optical fair in Paris.