Interview: Protos Eyewear Combines Fashion, Tech, and 3D Printing
Finding a pair of glasses that fit properly and look good is a painstaking process. Could 3D printing help with this? Protos Eyewear thinks so.
Protos is an eyewear company based in San Francisco that uses 3D printing to manufacture their frames. This intricate layering process results in bold and striking designs that are impossible to make through standard manufacturing methods. Protos eyewear is lightweight and durable, and the material provides a unique look and feel.
We interviewed Protos founder and CFO Richart Ruddie to learn more about the company.
On3dPrinting: How did you and your founders come up with this idea?
Ruddie (Protos): We have always had a passion for eyewear. It’s a product that is almost dominated by a company called Luxotica and we are able to enter the market with a unique niche that they have not caught on as of yet. They’re fun to design because they require such attention to detail in regards to proportions and ergonomics. If you change the silhouette by as little as 1 millimeter, it can totally change the character and the fit of the frame. 3D printing is just getting to a point where it is inexpensive enough to use as a viable manufacturing method, and the materials are finally starting to become strong enough to be consumer grade. These factors are what motivated us to start the company.
On3dPrinting: What is the consumer benefit of 3D printed sunglasses?
Ruddie (Protos): Eyewear with an unparalleled aesthetic (see below for the pixel pair in particular). Soon to be custom fit eyewear that we will be able to take anybody’s facial dimensions and make custom fitted glasses for them which we believe is the next big thing in the industry. We are beta-testing tailored fit glasses right now and would be proud to let a few of your readers and yourself to join the beta process.
On3dPrinting: Is there a business or cost advantage with 3D printing technology over traditional manufacturing?
Ruddie (Protos): You have no upfront tooling costs. So you could easily develop hundreds and hundreds of different models at no cost. You also can make the glasses to order and eliminate the need for backstock.
On3dPrinting: Who is your target customer?
Ruddie (Protos): Techies, fashionistas
On3dPrinting: We would imagine some customers would be concerned about fit. Do you offer any guarantees?
Ruddie (Protos): We do have a return policy in place:
On3dPrinting: You’ve been in business for over a year. Any data you can report about your growth?
Ruddie (Protos): We have been putting together everything over the last year or so. We had a great launch party in San Francisco which had 75 designers, fashionistas, techies, and other SF’ers and they all loved the glasses. We sold out that night and have been working on improving our line of products since than. We just recently launched to the public and sell sunglasses right on the website. As of right now growth is slow as we work on getting the word out and connecting with others that are interested in the products.
On3dPrinting: Where can someone design and buy a pair?
Ruddie (Protos): Contact us directly and we can discuss customized pairs on both a single level and mass production basis.