As any long-term glasses-wearer knows, it’s a lot of work to find the right pair of glasses. Getting the right prescription is the easy part – it’s picking out the frames that can be an exercise in despair. It all depends on the shape of your face – your friend may look adorable in the same pair of frames that make you look like a weird bug. It’s not fair, but that’s the way life works, and that’s why I’m thankful for contacts.
Picking out flattering frames is about to get easier and more fun, however, thanks to Materialise, HOYA Vision Care Company, andHoet Design Studio. Materialise and HOYA came to the rescue of the visually challenged earlier this year when they partnered up to develop the HOYA Vision Simulator, which allows customers to try out their new lenses in virtual reality. Now, with help from Hoet, the team is tackling the fashion side of prescription eyewear in a new comprehensive system that allows users to customize everything from their frames to their lenses, all at one time.
3D printing has had a lot of impact on the eyewear industry lately, with many companies beginning to offer stylish, customizable 3D printed frame options. Customized frames still have limitations, though, as opticians have to be able to fit lenses of standard sizes and shapes into them. Those limitations are removed, however, with Yuniku, an end-to-end glasses tailoring platform now available to optometrists’ offices everywhere.
Materialise and HOYA worked together to create a custom 3D scanner and software program that links directly to the Materialise 3D printing factory. Yuniku first takes a 3D scan of the customer’s face, then asks a series of questions to determine their visual requirements. HOYA’s advanced software uses the data from the facial scan to determine the ideal position for the lenses in relation to the wearer’s eyes, then communicates it to Materialise’s integrated design software, which designs the frame around the pre-positioned lenses.
“Yuniku is an exciting step forward in custom eyewear. By capitalizing on advances in 3D printing technology, we have removed the limitations posed by traditional spectacles,” said Jon Warrick, Vice President Global Marketing, HOYA Vision Care. “For the first time, wearers can enjoy the ultimate in optical performance, without compromising on style or fit.”
Customers can further customize their glasses in terms of color, style and shape, while the software works along with them, adjusting each style to match the lens placement and ideal fit as determined by the facial scan. A screen will display a virtual image of the customer in their selected eyewear before purchase.
“When 3D Printing meets the right application and the right partners, it has the potential to turn around an entire industry,” said Alireza Parandian, Global Business Strategist – Wearables, Materialise.“Materialise has helped this happen before in the hearing aid industry, when our custom software enabled the digital manufacturing of in-ear hearing aids to go from 20% of the total to nearly 100% in just two years. I believe Yuniku could be equally momentous for eyewear.”
Right now, Yuniku has an initial collection of frame options designed by Hoet, but because Yuniku is an open platform, additional options will be added – from Hoet and other designers. The system offers numerous colors, finishes, and other style options, as well as three types of lenses: progressive, single vision or indoor.
“As an eyewear designer, I’m already familiar with how 3D Printing can revolutionize this industry,” said Bieke Hoet of Hoet Design Studio. “Now with Yuniku, I feel that we are able to share this potential with the world.”