Lafont’s ‘380 panther’ print lamination has been a staple for over 20 years (Hampton shown here).

Laminations take eyewear from the ordinary to the spectacular.

Just about everyone is familiar with lamination. From kitchen counters and cabinets to picture frames and plywood, you’ll see lamination used in a lot of products. The eyewear industry discovered this technique long ago but in recent years, has taken it to some amazing new heights. Using lamination techniques, manufacturers have created some of the most beautiful frames produced today.

A laminated frame starts with a sheet of cellulose acetate that has had one or more layers bonded (laminated) to it. If it has two layers, it’s called a double laminate and if it has three layers, it’s a triple laminate.

The Cinzia collection from Europa offers unique variations on the traditional laminate by creating off beat tortoise colors (Style No. CIN-5013 shown here).

Laminates create color several ways. They can show different colors on the inside and outside of the frame or they can show an inside color, an outside color, and a color in between the two. By thinning the overall material in strategic places, the frame will show different colors. Engraving techniques can produce some startling effects and color depth that are impossible with other methods.

Creating patterns and color combinations can be very challenging when you are trying to laminate two or three different acetate layers. A little too much of one color can ruin a whole design. It’s also important how you cut, groove, engrave, or skive laminates. Depending on the color combinations you use, the outcomes can be dazzling.

The Original Penguin collection from Kenmark employs reverse lamination (color blocking) on the temples, giving a complementing interior/exterior effect (Sabrina shown here).

Europa International works with high-end specialty acetate manufacturers from Italy and Japan to obtain quality cellulose acetate with color combinations that blend well. The Cinzia and Scott Harris collections offer unique variations on the traditional laminate by creating off beat tortoise colors.

Kenmark Group creates its own laminates and uses acetates, prints, and foil to do it. To create a pattern, the design is printed, for example, onto a 0.5mm sheet of acetate and laminated to a base color. This process can be applied over and over to create a 3D effect until the right look and feel is achieved. Fabric, acetate, and foil laminating are done with transparent acetate to allow the beauty and depth of the material to come through. The Original Penguin collection employs reverse lamination (called color blocking) on the temples, giving a complementing interior/exterior effect.

For over 30 years the Lafont family has created beautiful and unique laminates. The majority (80%) of the colors used by Lafont are created by them for their exclusive use. Lafont’s “380 panther” print, for example, has been a staple for over 20 years. This timeless pattern is copied by many, but never duplicated. Along with acetate laminates, Lafont often mixes metal into the design by laminating it into the acetate, creating a very dramatic effect.

There are many manufacturers producing wonderful laminated frames. With unlimited color and material options available, the only limitation to this manufacturing process is the imagination of the person designing it. Manufacturers around the globe are experimenting with it and continue to come up with new ideas. With new techniques like cutting acetate to make it look and feel like wood, just about anything seems possible through lamination.

Kat Leek-Tedeschi is the owner of Kat’s Eyes Optical in Phoenix, AZ.


Europa International
800-621-4108 •

Kenmark Group
800-627-2898 •

800-832-8233 •


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