Depending on your activities, and your taste, you have a wide choice of materials for your frames. Acetate, wood, horn, carbon fiber, Optyl, epoxy, polymers, titanium: here are some definitions to help you make the best choice for your lifestyle.
Plastic eyeglasses are actually often made of cellulose acetate.
Also called viscose, artificial silk or rayon, it is easy to work with, very durable and derived from compounds in plants such as cotton.
Acetate frames are made with acetate plates of different colors that are fused with a heating technique.
Among other benefits, the superposition of different plates allows for a wide variety of new colors and shades, particularly pleasing for designers.
More and more eyewear designers these days are going for wood, such as Rolf or Gold & Wood.
Brands such as Cartier, Boucheron, Fred and Öga also use this material.
In addition to their original shapes and colors, wood frames are also very pleasant to the touch.
The most widely used woods are walnut, cherry, maple, pear, rosewood and bubinga, an African tree with a light purplish color.
Relatively fragile, wood frames are a true luxury accessory to be handled with care.
One can find buffalo horn used in high-end eyewear from brands such as Cartier, Fred and Boucheron.
For eyewear production, horn is first softened with water vapor, then transformed into sheets; these sheets are then layered for added strength.
Frames made from horn are handmade and tailored to measure because once finished, it is difficult for the optician to readjust them.
The principle advantages of the material are its strength and lightness. They must be meticulously cared for so that they don’t tarnish with age.
Without a doubt, carbon fiber is today’s most fashionable material for eyewear; and it is seducing more and more designers with its remarkable properties.
10 times stronger and 75% lighter than steel, carbon fiber has advantages that go beyond simple pleasure. Several big name brands such as Tag Heuer, Exalto, Bellinger and Charmant Z use it for some of their frames.
The only drawback is the limited choice of coloring. It’s up to the designers to work with form rather than color…
Optyl, or epoxy
Optyl is a hypoallergenic epoxy resin. Eyeglasses made with this material are usually transparent but can also be opaque.
Its principal advantages are its strength, lightness, non-flammability, hardness and the fact that if heated, the material will resume its original shape.
Pay attention nonetheless; if you leave your glasses on the dashboard of your car on a hot day, they risk returning to their original form: that of the mold in which they were created. They will thus lose the fit made by your optician.
A polyamide is a thermoplastic resin, used pure or mixed with other plastics for manufacturing sport eyewear, sunglasses and safety glasses.
SPX is a polyamide used for making frames by Julbo and Adidas, to name but a few.
Polyamide frames are strong and flexible and resist most solvents. On the other hand, they have a tendency to shrink if exposed to high temperatures. SPX has much better heat tolerance than other polyamides. Visually, it looks a lot like acetate.
Titanium is a light, allergenic, flexible and strong metal with excellent corrosion resistance.This is why it has applications in such diverse sectors—from the arms, biomedical and aerospace industries to making bicycle frames.
It is also used for making very thin, easily-colored, light, strong, impact-resistant sunglasses with a relatively long lifespan.Pure titanium frames are especially suitable for people allergic to nickel.
There are also titanium-based alloys such as ultra-light beta-titanium, with a titanium content of 75%.