3D printing was invented in 1984 by Charles Hull and was very expensive and not for the mass market. As technology has evolved 3D printed anything has become feasible. The first 3D printed eyewear showed up with some mass market appeal about 8 years ago, with a few companies such as Colors of Birch in which the consumer could order their own 3D eyeglasses online. Many of those first run 3D companies are not in existence anymore, but that didn’t mean the technology went away. In fact, eyewear companies took notice and evolved the 3D printed eyewear trend.
The 3D printing industry grew by $1 billion to a total of $5,165 billion in 2015. 85% of the 1/2 million 3D printers shipper were consumer/desktop versions. 3D printer companies are striving to make consumer 3D printing affordable and accessible. What that means for eyecare professionals.. the more affordable 3D printers get, the more home-made 3D printed eyeglasses.
3D printed eyewear has evolved in the optical industry in 8 trends:
1.) Eyewear manufacturers such as Clearvision use 3D modeling for eyeglass design. Gone are the days of shipping samples back and forth, long trips to suppliers. This has cut eyewear production down from a 6-12 month delivery to several months to quickly meet the changing demands of the market place.
2.) Eyewear manufacturers such as Mykita’s Mylon in 2007, ic!berlin eco-skelton, seamless hinge design, pqeyewear,(Ron Arad) Samal Design, Monoqool, Morganrot 3D, ic!berlin and Hoet are producing luxury market 3D Eyewear. Hoet has the first 3D printed Titanium eyewear. Even Seiko teamed up with Materialise to make a 3D printed sports eyewear.
3.) Eyewear companies such as Tom Davies and Roger Bacon and FrameLapp who set up 3D printed eyewear in optical shops for the consumer to order their personalized 3D eyewear.
4.) Consumer can customize and make their own 3D printed eyewear though such sites as Protos (California), Kobrin (Brazil) Kokosome (Finland), Shorehill (Chicago) Boulton Eyewear (Netherlands) Stevens Eyewear (Netherlands) and MONO (Hong Kong) and Soda Concept (Italy), KickFly (New York)
5.) While not mainstream, tech company luxexcel is in the process of producing both lenses and eyewear via 3D. They are a member of The Vision Council.
6.) Consumer can make their own eyewear via their personal 3D printers and bring eyewear in for lenses only.
7.) Eyecare professionals can have their own 3D printer to make custom eyewear for consumers. An example is ‘Dr. James Kim is the owner and founder of Optoid Print3d Eyewear & Primary Eyecare; the first eye doctor’s office that custom designs and 3D print its eyewear.’ http://www.myoptoid.com . Frame Punk another optical shop in Germany has a store and offers their own version of 3D printed eyewear.
8.) Eyecare professionals can contact a 3D company to have them make up Private label 3D printed eyewear.
There are numerous ways that eyecare professionals can market 3D Printed Eyewear. The first is to make it known that this an option. Wear it, talk about it, post selfies. Set up a 3D ‘Lab’ in the office. Have 3D contest’s and create eyewear for special events such as Halloween.
The benefits, fun and interactive and great PR.. what more could you want?
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