• Additive Manufacturing Blog, May 2021

    Reinventing Kids’ Eyewear with Additive Manufacturing

Season two of additive snack is here, and what a first episode! This week we’re joined by the wonderful Katie Brandeau, Chief Production Officer of Fitz Frames. From research and development for Disney to 3D printing end-stage consumer products: Katie has worked with 3D printing throughout her career and witnessed firsthand the flexibility that it can offer.

Fabian Alefeld
Additive Minds Consulting Manager
EOS of North America Inc.

A truly customizable experience thanks to Additive manufacturing

When surveying potential manufacturing techniques, the team at Fitz Frames needed to find a production technique that allowed for durability, style, and customization. Traditional methods such as casting and molding were great for durability and style; however, when it came to customization, the limitations of conventional manufacturing techniques would have been too expensive and time-consuming. It quickly became apparent to the Fitz Frames team that 3D printing was the only suitable option if they wanted to offer the perfect end product for their consumers.

When making the switch from production methods that you’ve used in the past, you need to consider that your previous concepts and designs won’t necessarily translate to 3D printing.

When designing their frames, the Fitz Frames team had to rethink everything we previously knew about eyewear. From what constituted style to aspects that could be adjusted to ensure a customized fit: the Fitz Frames team deconstructed a process that hadn’t changed since the start of the 20th century. This way, they could ensure that their product met their parameters and utilized all of the benefits of additive manufacturing to the fullest. 

By creating a process that utilized additive manufacturing and optimized the customization workflow, Fitz Frames started a unique user journey that the end-user can complete in as little as 15 seconds. All they need to do is use their smartphone to snap a pic, and the Fitz Frames app collects the necessary measurements. Once a choice of frame is selected, all that’s left to do is press print. The method has become so efficient that Fitz Frames was able to launch a new customizable form of PPE at the start of the pandemic in just 11 days.

What should I avoid?

Here are some of the most common mistakes made when people make the switch and how you can avoid them.

  • Stop looking at additive manufacturing in the same light as you do traditional methods. All the restrictions and roadblocks that you’ve had historically aren’t going to be the same as the restrictions with AM. Think about how additive manufacturing works and design around that. 
  • If you move forward with AM - identify the problems in your existing product, identify what needs to change, and how AM can help you eliminate that pain point.

It’s important to remember that you’re stepping into uncharted territory when you’re embarking on a new AM journey, but don’t let that intimidate you. The benefits and creative freedom that you gain when making the switch mean that you can create something truly unique.

In summary...

  • Once considered a tool for research and development, additive manufacturing is now a serious contender in the production industry.
  • Use additive manufacturing to its fullest potential. Think outside the box.
  • Additive manufacturing is still new territory. If a solution doesn’t exist yet, create one. 
  • Don’t be limited to outdated restrictions. Embrace the agility of additive manufacturing to turn a challenge into a positive experience.

Do not hesitate to reach out to me personally,  I’d be happy to assist with any questions you might have.

Fabian Alefeld
Additive Minds Consulting Manager
EOS of North America Inc.