To achieve optimal eyewear performance, your frame material choice can be just as important as the lens material you select.
With so many generic and proprietary frame materials available, it can be difficult to keep up with what’s out there and the features and benefits of each. A little background can go a long way in understanding and working with frame materials, so consider the following wide selection of both generic frame materials as well as special frame materials offered by specific frame companies, some of which are proprietary and some of which are available from a number of companies but branded differently by each manufacturer.
As you can see from this special section on frame materials, eyewear frames are made primarily of metals and/or plastics, but there are a wide variety of materials within each category.
Titanium and beta titanium are handled similarly. Strong, light and corrosion resistant, titanium is recommended for patients who may have allergic reactions to other metals. Because it is more difficult to bend than other metals, it is always best to edge the lenses to fit the frame precisely. Memory metals combine titanium and nickel into a metal that returns to its original shape. While they cannot be adjusted, these frames feature adjustable endpieces, eyewires, temple tips and nosepad arms. A little easier to work with, beryllium offers the corrosion resistance of titanium. Stainless steel is also durable but tends to be a bit heavier.
Most plastic frames are cellulose acetate, often called zyl. Lightweight, adjustable and inexpensive, zyl comes in many grades, and better quality zyl frames are made with durable, flexible Mazzucchelli acetate, which holds its color longer. Proprianate is a nylon-based plastic that is lightweight, hypoallergenic and often used in sports frames. Nylon is lightweight and flexible but difficult to adjust or insert lenses into, so it is often used as a blended material in frames.
NEW MATERIALS IN CCOLE HAAN GRAND.ØS COLLECTION FROM ALTAIR
The Grand.ØS Collection from Cole Haan features new materials and technologies that enhance fit, flexibility and comfort in sun and optical collections for men and women. Special temple materials result in comfort and durability. Hollowed out and slimmed down new temple treatments feature ultrathin stainless steel and featherweight rubber materials. Full Ti-Flex temples support agility, comfort and natural movement, while premium materials are designed to withstand everyday wear. Soft silicone and rubber materials provide padding at pressure points behind the ear.
Altair Eyewear 800.505.5557 AltairEyewear.com
OPTYL FROM SAFILO FITS THE FACE AND ETURNS TO ITS ORIGINAL SHAPE
An epoxy resin that has been available for decades, Safilo’s proprietary Optyl is strong, lightweight, flexible and comfortable with shape memory. Optyl can be heated to fit the anatomy of a face, and the new form is maintained when it cools. When heated to the “memory” temperature again, it returns to its original shape. It features hypoallergenic properties and is resistant to perspiration and cosmetics, making it appropriate for even the most sensitive skin.
Safilo USA 800.631.1188 Safilo.com Info@Safilo.com
TIMBERLAND FROM MARCOLIN EARNS THE EARTHKEEPERS MARK WITH BIO-BASED FRAMES
Instead of using petroleum-based materials, Timberland products earning the Earthkeepers mark are constructed of bio-based injected frames. The bio-based material comes from the seed of a castor plant, a durable, fast-growing perennial that can withstand droughts and harsh conditions. The castor plant’s seed pods are harvested, and castor oil is extracted to produce a natural substance known as bio-based plastic. Durable and lightweight, these frames can endure harsh conditions to maintain their comfortable shape
Marcolin 800.345.8482 Marcolin.com InfoUSA@Marcolin.com
HYPOALLERGENIC SPX FROM SILHOUETTE OFFERS UNLIMITED SHAPE AND DESIGN POSSIBILITIES
SPX, a high-tech polymer only produced by Silhouette, is known for its flexibility and stability. Considered hypoallergenic, it doesn’t react with body chemicals or cosmetics. It is also UV resistant. Manufactured by Silhouette Optical and used in an injection-molding process, SPX offers many surface finish and color options that are not only extremely durable but also comfortable. Most recently, Silhouette’s new Essence Collection combines SPX with titanium to create light yet resilient frames.
Silhouette International 800.223.0180 Silhouette.com
LOOK OCCHIALI’S ALUMIX AND NIL MATERIALS ARE LIGHT, STRONG AND HYPOALLERGENIC
Lightweight, strong, hypoallergenic and recyclable, Alumix is an aluminum and magnesium alloy transformed into textured surfaces with tactile sensations. The industrially worked metal was developed at Look the Concept Factory Research Centre. Also developed here, Nil is similarly lightweight, strong and hypoallergenic. The flexible polymer features a memory shape and resistance to environmental conditions and chemical agents. Unique colorations are achieved with translucent surfaces, satin textures and opalescent colors.
Look Occhiali 855.302.1792 509.251.5192 LookOcchiali.it Doug.Hinton@LookOcchiali.it
FLEXON FROM MARCHON ALWAYS RETURNS TO ITS ORIGINAL SHAPE
Flexon frames are designed to be flexed, bent or twisted and return to their original shape, making them extremely durable. While new additions to the collection are created to emphasize durability and function, all Flexon Eyewear frames are lightweight, designed for comfort and suitable for progressive lenses. Some designs combine Flexon with stainless steel and feature adjustable nosepads and rubberized temple tips for a customized comfortable fit.
Marchon Eyewear 800.645.1300 Marchon.com CS@Marchon.com
SDN-6 HYPOALLERGENIC MEMORYPLASTIC IN CLEARVISION’S ASPIRE
Thin and light, Aspire Eyewear has evolved since its introduction in 2015 by ClearVision. The latest iteration, Aspire 4.0 is crafted in innovative SDN-6 hypoallergenic memory plastic that offers a ‘barely-there’ feel and fit. The proprietary SDN-6 material offers shape memory and heat resistance, and it will not fade from UV exposure. Using a proprietary manufacturing process allows for a comfortable built-up saddle bridge that removes the need for adjustable metal pad arms with nosepads, creating frames that fit like typical acetate frames.TR-90 and stainless steel temple materials enhance the frames’ look and ultra lightweight feel. An Aspire frame is almost 50% lighter and almost 50% thinner than a typical acetate frame and uses screwless hinge technology for a streamlined, easy-to-use endpiece attachment system.
ClearVision Optical Co. 800.645.3733 CVOptical.com CService@CVOptical.com
COSTA’S UNTANGLED COLLECTION RECYCLES DISCARDED PLASTIC FISHING NETS
In keeping with Costa’s commitment to protecting the world’s oceans and waterways, the Untangled Collection is made by recycling discarded plastic fishing nets. By joining forces with Bureo, which works with fishing communities to turn discarded fishing nets into all kinds of products, the company transforms nylon pellets recycled from fishing nets into Costa sunglasses. Not only is Costa’s Untangled Collection made of recycled materials, but it is also recyclable. Customers will be able to return their sunglasses via PLUSFoam (which provided recyclable rubber for the nosepads and temple tips of the collection) to be recycled at the end of the product’s life.
Costa 800.447.3700 B2B.CostaDelMar.com B2BSales@CostaDelMar.com
MAUI JIM HALEIWA’S MAUIFLEX REMEMBERS FIT AND RETAINS ITS SHAPE
This frame’s comfort is the result of Mau Jim’s MauiFlex material, a flexible material that remembers fit and retains its shape longer than traditional metals. Lightweight yet durable, the Haleiwa design features a double bridge and a traditional hinge combined with adjustable, non-slip silicone nosepads. MyMaui customization is available by combining style with available frame and lens colors.
Maui Jim, Inc. 888.666.5905 MauiJim.com
TURA’S GX810 COLOR SHIFT JUNIORS GWEN STEFANI FRAMES CHANGE COLOR IN UV LIGHT
Gx Juniors Color Shift frames by Gwen Stefani are available from Tura, and the GX810 features an acetate coated with a UV color-changing finish that provides a color-changing effect seconds after the frame is out in the sun. Color changes include lavender to purple, green to teal and coral to burgundy.
Tura, Inc. 800.242.8872 Tura.com Orders@Tura.com
PLANT-BASED Z-RESIN FROM ZEAL OPTICS REDUCES THE MANUFACTURING CARBON FOOTPRINT
Zeal Optics frames (and Ellume polarized lenses) are made from Z-Resin, a plant-based material derived from the castor plant, a fast-growing perennial that is easy to plant, withstands drought and thrives on marginal lands. Using this material rather than petroleum-based products reduces the amount of carbon dioxide produced during manufacturing while also contributing to a lighter finished weight.
Zeal Optics 888.454.9325 ZealOptics.com Info@ZealOptics.com
INSPECS NATURA ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY BIO-ACETATE DECOMPOSES QUICKLY
Made from cotton fiber and tree pulp, Natura is a new, environmentally friendly bio-acetate material with accelerated biodegradable properties. Its ability to return to its organic state more quickly reduces waste, both on land and in the water. Natura eyewear meets the ISO 14855 standard (biodegradability of plastics).
Inspecs USA 844.771.7710 InspecsUSA.com Sales@InspecsUSA.com
NICKEL-FREE MEMORY METAL IN EASYTWIST TRILASTON FROM ASPEX
EasyTwist frames from Aspex Eyewear are made with an aluminum-copper-beryllium alloy with flexibility and memory properties. Totally nickel free, Trilaston is hypoallergenic, and its improved mono-crystalline structure allows for greater freedom in design and construction while giving it resistance to shock, corrosion and temperature variations. Temple tips adjust for comfort and fit. Its flexibility, comfort and durability are enhanced when combined with Turboflex 360 hinges.
Aspex Eyewear 800.277.3979 AspexEyewear.com
PREMIUM MATERIALS AT A GLANCE
|carbon fiber||A semi-metal that can be created into eyewear. The colors are rich and deep.|
|exotic wood||The natural grain of some wood is often unique in depth and design.
Rich colors are what nature intended.
|handmade acetate||Offers the ability to make carved-out designs and patterns. Colors are endless.|
|memory metal||Mixed metals that are stamped out for thinner and sleek designs.
Colors are plentiful and can be matte or shiny.
|memory plastic||Mixed plastics that offer an infinite amount of faux-textured patterns.
The shiny and glossy colors are magnificently translucent.
|natural hide||Textures stand out, allowing for raised patterns. Colors are pure, dark and organic.|
|natural horn||Animal horn offers one-of-a-kind patterns. Horn materials are warm in color.|
|pure titanium||100% titanium can be crafted into many designs and patterns.
Shiny and matte colors can be applied by an anodized process that allows for permanent rich colors.
FEATURES AND BENEFITS OF PLASTIC FRAME MATERIALS
|carbon graphite||nylon with carbon fibers||durable, strong, thinner designs||heat small areas at a time|
|cellulose propionate||injection-molded plastic||comfortable, thin, good colors||use little or no heat|
|Grilamid||injection-molded plastic||comfortable, durable, strong, light, flexible||use little or no heat|
|Kevlar||synthetic fiber||durable, strong, lightweight||not much adjustability|
|nylon||synthetic, thermoplastic polymer||impact resistant, comfortable, durable, light||use hot water to adjust|
|Optyl||epoxy resin||comfortable, hypoallergenic, strong, light||high heat, hold until cool|
|polyamide||nylon and plastic||comfortable, hypoallergenic thermoplastic||use little or no heat|
|polycarbonate||thermoplastic||virtually unbreakable||little or no adjustments possible|
|zyl||cellulose and plastic||affordable, easy to work with||moderate heat|
FEATURES AND BENEFITS OF METAL FRAME MATERIALS
|aluminum||most abundant in the earth’s crust||light, durable, nice finishes||adjust carefully, can mar or kink|
|beryllium||NASA-developed metal||durable, comfortable, strong, light||use pliers to adjust|
|beta titanium||titanium with vanadium and aluminum||more adjustable||designed to be easily adjusted with pliers|
|bronze||metal alloy (mostly bronze)||corrosion resistant, light||easy to adjust with pliers|
|cobalt||metal alloy||strong, light||strong metal, difficult to adjust; try one or two pliers when adjusting|
|gold||precious metal||durable, corrosion resistant||use pliers for adjustments; use care, soft metal can mar|
|magnesium||metal alloy (mostly magnesium)||light, durable||ask supplier for tips to adjust this metal|
|memory metals||titanium alloy||strong, light, returns to shape when bent||use pliers; carefully use heat on small areas|
|Monel||metal alloy (mostly nickel)||affordable, strong, thin||easy to adjust, use pliers|
|nickel silver||metal alloy (mostly copper)||affordable, good colors||easy to adjust, use pliers|
|palladium||premium metal, usually an alloy additive in high-end frames||light, strong, corrosion resistant||ask supplier how to adjust this semi-precious metal|
|stainless steel||mostly iron||strong, thin||very difficult to adjust, use pliers|
|titanium||100% titanium||strong, light, hypoallergenic||difficult to adjust, use pliers with care|
|wood||natural material||luxurious||use pliers on metal parts|
|zinc||alloy metal, anti-corrosive, lightweight, malleable||strong, comfortable||use pliers to adjust|