Sep 5, 2017 | By Benedict

Belgian startup W.R. Yuma is using 3D printing to make sunglasses made from plastic waste. The stylish 3D printed sunglasses are made from car dashboards, soda bottles, and even refrigerators.

Green energy, recycling, saving the planet… these are all undoubtedly good things, but it’s not often you’ll hear them described as “cool.” Maybe by high school science teachers, but that hardly counts.

But what if the recycling of plastic waste could make you, well, actually really cool? Thanks to startup W.R. Yuma, maybe it can.

The Antwerp-based company is on a mission: “to shape the future of waste with stylish 3D printed sunglasses from recycled plastics.” And while you’re unlikely to need shades too often through September (especially in Belgium), these frames are undoubtedly one of the most stylish 3D printed products we’ve seen in recent times.

Founded in 2015 by Sebastiaan de Neubourg, W.R. Zuma is not the product of a fashion-oriented group of people. But by approaching sunglasses production in a practical way, the startup has almost accidentally produced something with big mainstream appeal.

That’s partly because, in 2017, people do seem to care a bit more about where their clothes come from and how they are made. And with genuinely fashionable sunglasses that are made from recycled plastic, consumers know that the ecosystem behind their accessories is as “on trend” as the apparel itself.

“Waste is only waste when wasted,” the company says. “We believe that circular economy is the future, and we would like to bring circular economy thinking industry to W.R. Yuma. We truly believe that a society without waste is possible.”

That philosophy is evident in the company’s operations. All materials used to make the 3D printed sunglasses are recycled, coming from car dashboards, soda bottles, and even refrigerators. This plastic waste is then ground down into filament, before being printed in 0.04 mm layers to make the trendy frames. (The recycling process is carried out by Dutch company Better Future Factory, who we spoke to at Dutch Design Week 2015.)

“The black plastic comes from recycled car dashboards in the Netherlands,” W.R. Yuma says. “Our transparent plastic is for 90 per cent made from the soda bottle you held last summer in Europe. Even the ink on the inside of the temples is made from recycled fridges.”

The 3D printed glasses are also designed to be recycled themselves, being free of any glues and toxic substances that would make them difficult to recycle. (The company adds that customers will eventually be able to get discounts by bringing in their old shades to exchange for new ones.)

The planet-friendly ethos of W.R. Yuma is also evident in other ways. For example, two of the company’s main suppliers—Better Future Factory in Rotterdam and Tridea in Brussels—are located close to the startup’s Antwerp headquarters.

And things could get even more local in the future: “The idea is to decentralize production as to make production facilities that can use local materials,” de Neubourg says.

The 3D printed sunglasses aren’t yet available to order, but interested customers can pre-register to receive an early bird discount when the products launch. Production is set to begin this year.

The company says that future versions of the 3D printed sunglasses could be made from algae, recycled fishing nets, and food packaging.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Sebastiaan de Neubourg wrote at 9/10/2017 10:35:57 AM:

Thank you Benedict for the great article. For those interested to learn more, please check out our Kickstarter campaign here!

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