Oct 22, 2015 | By Tess

Clothing fads come and go, but there is one trend in fashion that is sure not to fade away: the growing trend of manufacturing environmentally sound clothing and accessories. One fashion startup, U.S. based KickFly's, has made this their goal as they have set out to design and manufacture 3D printed sunglasses made from recycled plastics.

KickFly's was founded by Justin Capoccia, Colin Young, and John-Michael Fragnoli, three childhood friends from Niskayuna, New York who decided after college to go into business together. The idea to design and make sunglasses came from a shared interest in the accessory, as Capoccia and Young brainstormed ways to make their product special. The two realized that 3D printing could in fact be the perfect manufacturing method for them, both from a stylistic perspective, and from a sustainable standpoint as well, which was a priority for them. Typically, techniques such as injection molding are used in manufacturing sunglasses, but the team at KickFly's found that in using 3D printing technologies to produce their designs they would have more freedom in using recycled materials.

“We thought the industry is bland and we thought if we could 3D print for production it would spice up the industry with no restrictions on designs at all, there is literally no cap,” Capoccia tells 3Ders, “On top of it we wanted to make a bigger impact, we decided we had such a great invention (3D printing) so why not utilize its second biggest ability and that is repurposing plastic…”

KickFly's received its initial funding from the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, MA, where both John-Michael Fragnoli and Colin Young were enrolled in an Accelerate program. In April of 2015, the program offered them $5,550 in financial funding and enough capital for them to purchase a plastic extruder and their first 3D printer to begin prototyping their designs.

The makers at KickFly's have chosen to manufacture their sunglasses on a Fusion3 3D printer, which they are very satisfied with. The high-quality 3D prints as well as the speed of the machine are fitting to KickFly’s needs. To print one pair of glasses on one 3D printer takes about 30 minutes, the team at KickFly's, however, intend to cut it down to 10 minutes per pair by utilizing several Fusion3 3D printers. Importantly, because of the Fusion3’s ability to accommodate non-proprietary materials, the KickFly's team are able to choose which materials to print in. Capoccia explains, “Our material of choice is PET, which is post-consumer plastic, but we are also open to other [materials] like recycled PLA. Fragnoli, who graduated in mechanical engineering, has been an indispensible part of the KickFly's team in terms of creating and using the 3D printing software as well as in helping with the sunglasses designs.

Currently, the team at KickFly are working on developing new sunglasses designs to complete their collection, as well as to continue increasing their efficiency in terms of production. They are taking the final steps in preparing for an official product release. Capoccia has told 3Ders that once launched the cost of the sunglasses will range from $30 to $100, depending on the lens quality. Because of the money saved in additively manufacturing the sunglasses, they will remain affordable once they are on the market while still being of high quality.

Capoccia, Young, and Fragnoli have also launched the “KickFly’s Clean Community Project” which has as its mission the promotion of recycling and the goal of keeping the environment clean. In keeping with their production philosophy of using recycled and environmentally friendly materials, KickFly’s Clean Community Project will use 10% of their sunglasses sales to put towards cleaning the roadways of America as well as planting greenery and cleaning up small communities.

“The more KickFly’s operations there are the cleaner our world will be from plastic waste, which is harming us everyday and people do not even realize it,” says Capoccia, “So we are hoping to start a trend, what better way than in fashion?”

KickFly's team



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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