In October 2018, eyewear brand Kite of London started collaborating with the design agency of industrial designer Benjamin Hubert’s Layer of London, providing 3D printed glasses custom made to the measurements of a person’s face. The KiteONE range was officially announced in September 2018 at the DesignJunction contemporary interior design exhibition of the London Design Festival. However, it will not be available to buy until spring 2019. Benjamin Hubert and Layer are also known for creating the world’s first 3D printed mass producible wheelchair, whose first working prototype was debuted at Clerkenwell Design Week 2016.
The new service is available with custom details and specifications to ensure the glasses fit properly. The masses can visit a Kite store to avail themselves of the new service that uses a handheld scanner to take three-dimensional scans of their head and face. Layer also designed the KiteONE app, which is used to visualize the customer’s head for a real-time virtual glasses fitting. Once the completed pair of glasses has been digitally created, the app sends the file to one of Kite’s local suppliers for a three-week process of 3D printing, finishing, and dying. A Kite stylist subsequently builds all the 3D printed components in the store.
The KiteOne collection has three different colour options: brick red, charcoal, and moss. Customers can also customize their 3D printed pair of glasses further by choosing to have silver or rose-gold hinges, branding details added, and/or printing a bespoke message inside the temple of the frames.
The whole range in the collection takes inspiration from a single, classic, albeit customizable style of frame. Nylon material is used to make the 3D printed frame, and the integrated nose pads are made from breathable silicone rubber with a matte finish, reducing the contact point with the person’s face as well as reducing any build-up of sweat and heat.
One can choose between four different temple style options for the frame, ergo the glasses can be tailored to improve the fit, or to be better suited for a certain activity. The Classic option offers a minimalist, clean style and is completely made from 3D printed material. The Tip, Cord Tip, and Sport Tip styles are all made from injection-moulded plastic, as opposed to being entirely 3D printed. “The Tip” style heats the temple tips during the final fitting for a tighter fit. The Cord Tip comes with an integrated textile cord, so the glasses can hang from the wearer’s neck. The Sport Tip includes an integrated, elasticized sports band, so the glasses can be held in place during sporting activities.
The glasses industry is just one of many industries to increasingly use 3D printing to offer product customization.
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