Feb 14, 2017 | By Tess
Anyone who has ever spent hours looking for sunglasses that fit just right will know that it can be a frustrating and even dejecting experience (up there with jean shopping!). Finding frames that a) fit your face, b) suit your style, and c) are good quality, is something I’m sure many people have tried and failed to accomplish. Personally, I’ve gone through many a pair of ill-fitting frames, and have yet to find ones I can really rely on.
Fortunately, in the field of eyewear, custom sunglasses and frames seem to be a top priority, as a number of startups and eyewear brands have tapped into the potential of being able to manufacture frames that are tailored to the client. The most recent innovation to come out of the field is coming from Skelmet, a Massachusetts-based sports eyewear startup that has introduced 3D printed custom-fit sunglasses, designed for active lifestyles.
The bespoke 3D printed sunglasses, called Skelmet Falcon 1, are being featured in an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and are being marketed as “the world's lightest and best fitting sport sunglasses.” How is the company making these seemingly too-good-to-be-true frames? With 3D scanning and printing technologies, of course.
Using its patented 3D fit technology, Skelmet has developed a technique for 3D scanning its customers’ faces and creating customized sportswear sunglasses based off the scans. More specifically, customers seeking to buy a pair of Skelmet Falcons can simply download the Skelmet mobile app and get a friend to assist in 3D scanning their face. (Alternately, clients can also visit a local 3D scanning partner shop for this step).
Once the facial scan is captured, it is then sent through Skelmet’s 3D fit software, which analyzes 86 key points of the client’s face and can then generate the custom-fitted sunglasses. According to the company, its 3D fit technology is based on an extensive database Skelmet has compiled, consisting of over 3,500 head and face scans.
To manufacture the custom frames, Skelmet is using an EOS P110 3D printer, which fuses nylon plastic powder layer by layer to build up the sunglasses. Thanks to the material, Skelmet boasts having super-lightweight frames (weighing in at roughly 17 grams), which make them very comfortable and practical for physical activity. According to Skelmet, their sunglasses are 30% lighter than competing brands’ products, such as Oakley’s Flak Jacket glasses.
Of course, the sunglasses’ lenses are not 3D printed, as Skelmet has partnered with Wisconsin-based lens makers who are supplying the custom-cut high definition UV400 lenses. To up the quality of the glasses, the lenses also feature a scratch-resistant layer, a water-repellent layer, and anti-fogging technology.
In terms of style, customers will have some choice. For the frames, Skelmet offers three different colors: graphite black, sapphire black, and alpine white. There are also a variety of lenses to choose from, and clients can pick based on either aesthetic preferences or functional ones. For instance, the grey lenses are all purpose, while the pink mirror lenses are more suited for road cycling, driving, or skiing.
For now, Skelmet only has one frame design, the Falcon 1, though the startup says customers can expect to see more styles released down the line. And, because of the custom-fit and color options, no two pairs of Skelmet’s sports sunglasses should ever be the same.
Early bird backers of Skelmet’s Indiegogo campaign can get their hands on a pair of custom-fitted polarized sunglasses for $229. There is also the option to buy prescription lenses ($399) or photochromic lenses ($439). And while that might seem steep for a pair of sunglasses, considering that they are tailor made to your face and optimized for physical activity, your lifestyle might just benefit from them.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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