Interview: Protos Eyewear Combines Fashion, Tech, and 3D Printing

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Protos Eyewear 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.

Protos Pixelated Eyewear 3D Printing

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.

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5 Responses to Interview: Protos Eyewear Combines Fashion, Tech, and 3D Printing

  1. [...] Interview: Protos Eyewear Combines Fashion, Tech, and 3D Printing Tuesday, September 18 [...]

  2. [...] 10. Interview: Protos Eyewear Combines Fashion, Tech, and 3D Printing [...]

  3. Eyespectacle says:

    Nice interview, I think 3D printing also offers a new way of reading and understanding beauty and it’s a revolution in regards to this aspect of design as well.

    I went to the eyewear fair in Paris a few weeks ago and one of the most interesting things I saw was Mykita’s range of 3D printed frames, these frames are “proud of” being 3D printed and are not trying to look like the other mass produced frames, nor like the beautiful, one-of-a-kind handmade frames, these are different in that they show all features of a 3D printed object; the slightly textured surface (polished just to make the glasses more comfortable), the coloration, the lightness and flexibility of the material, you can “see” the process.

    I have read a little more about 3D printing and eyewear on my blog


  4. [...] Protos Eyewear is a San Francisco based company which specializes in custom fit eyewear, with frames specifically targeted at “techies and fashionistas” [...]

  5. […] computer-aided personalized design with 3D printing to create the perfect pair of frames. We featured Protos last fall and recently caught up again with founder and CFO Richart […]

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