Break Your Frames? Print Some New Ones!

3D Printed Glasses

When [Aaron Porterfield] accidentally broke his glasses frame, he saw it as an opportunity, rather than an unfortunate event. He decided he was going to design and print new ones to fit his prescription lenses!

The trickiest part of taking on a project like this is designing the glasses around the pre-existing lenses, because typically, lenses are cut to fit the frame — not vice versa. This is why we’re particularly impressed with the project. [Aaron] was able to 3D scan the lenses using his camera phone and Autodesk’s 123D Catch software (free) to create the lens model! Once he had the lens outline, he scaled it properly by measuring its maximum dimensions with calipers.

Now this is where it gets a bit tricky – designing the frames. [Aaron] is using Rhino to do the design work, and he’s actually laid out the steps quite nicely for anyone who wants to attempt something like this. He describes in detail matching the curvature of the lenses, designing the frame around it, and of course actually fitting the lenses in place.

There is a small caveat to this entire project — The frames were printed on a nice Stratasys polyjet 3D printer — due to the geometry, it might be a bit tricky (or impossible) to print on a traditional hobby FDM machine. Regardless — making your own glasses is some serious geek cred. Nice work [Aaron]!

21 thoughts on “Break Your Frames? Print Some New Ones!

  1. That’s no real caveat, he used the right tool for the job. I love my fdm 3d printer, but when it comes to designing something like this, I’ve quite often sent off the final product to be printed by shapeways instead of trying to finish it myself. The end product is a heap better for much less effort (with the trade off of it costing much more of course)

  2. FDM is nice, but it’s very hard to get it to the quality of a Polyjet. Polyjet is also a very expensive machine, others might be best shipping it off to Shapeways or similar service.

  3. And the cost to print the frames is 6X that of buying the exact replacement set from Zenni Optical. I can see doing out of need, but if you have a printer that costs more than most people’s homes, it is no longer need.

    1. I assumed he designed these to look like frames with a normal price tag higher than the cost of printing. I don’t actually see any statement to that effect, though, nor really any explanation of the aesthetic side of the design process. If these were just utilitarian nerd goggles then yeah, this hack is a bit of an eyebrow raiser.

    2. Pretty much 100% of the projects featured here are not out of ‘need’, nor are they out of cheapness. The techniques he explains could be applied to other objects, maybe someone will use his nice write-up to learn something and eventually create some whiz-bang doodad that will end up saving the world.

      Thanks to Aaron for taking the time to share.

  4. This is one of the best uses of a 3D printer I have seen yet. Actually printing something of use (I’m not talking about everyone) seems to be rare in most entries I read.

  5. Maybe it’s because I am from The Netherlands, but the sentence “The trickiest part of taking on a project like this is designing the glasses around the pre-existing lenses” sounds pretty weird. I know you talk about glasses or a pair of glasses, but in that word (or those words) the frame including the lenses is meant and not the frame itself.

    1. I’ve always preferred metal frames because plastic frames are usually more imposing on the face, but strangely I’ve seen a lot of people sporting big, fat, dorky-looking plastic frames the last several years. I really thought those frames were dead forever. Maybe Tina Fey started it on Weekend Update. I guess it’s true: if you hold on to something long enough, it’ll come back in style.

      1. Thing is metal frames made comeback because if fashion as well. In my opinion they are still around because the metal frames proved to be more durable. Even before the latest “twistoflex” metal frame( I can’t recall the trademarked names for them) a metal frame would bend not break, in most cases easily bent back into shape to the point you could use the glasses.

  6. ICYMI: Old internet joke.
    “When a young nerd breaks his glasses, he fixes them with tape and everybody laughs.
    When an old nerd breaks his glasses, he fixes them in his micro-welder and no one notices.”

    Now the young nerd can print a new frame!

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