The 'clever material swap' gets to be a bit trendy in the industrial design game after awhile. We usually have trouble to finding projects that both employ a new material intelligently (and with good intent) but don't immediately fall into 'can't-believe-its-a-cement-lamp' category. Likewise, as far as bandwagons go, 3D printing doesn't seem to be slowing down in the slightest with projects like the 3Doodle pen and 3D photo booths. But while we all wait for either 3D printed houses or organs, we have to ask: when are all the innovative 3D printed consumer products going to catch up?
Upon perusing our sister portfolio site Coroflot, we came across the portfolio of Marc Levinson, the chief executive officer of Protos Eyewear. Protos boasts that their line of 3D printed eyewear is both consumer grade and yields "striking designs that are impossible to make through standard manufacturing methods."
Levinson deals with some pretty solid applications for 3D printing market-ready products. Originally considered to be a technique primarily for prototyping, many companies are looking to 3D print directly to market. Levinson's 3D printed frames for San Francisco-based Protos Eyewear are a great example of manufacturing process informing aesthetics. We're particularly fond of the Hal Pixel frames, perhaps a not-so-subtle nod to the digital age.
Protos Eyewear formed in 2011 of Marc Levinson, John Mauriello, Doug Ponciano and Richart Ruddie. They say the next generation of their 3D printed glasses will be custom frames for all—an obvious direction, considering the technology they are employing to manufacture. We wonder about the durability of the plastic frames, although it's a nice break form the influx of wood frames (or rather frames with wood veneers) that seem to be around every corner.
Currently 6 different frame styles are available through the Protos website, while they are all stock fits (for the time being) we look forward to seeing how Protos Eyewear will expand into custom frames. One of the most exciting parts of the Protos design process is their use of the collaborative Sunglass platform we recently covered for sharing and syncing 3D projects. Word on the street is Protos will be launching a forthcoming Kickstarter campaign—we expect that as they move into the custom frame phase, they will be the go-to for 3D printed shades.