Introduction: Make Your Own Sunglass (or Eyeglass) Parts on a 3D Printer

Picture of Make Your Own Sunglass (or Eyeglass) Parts on a 3D Printer

Both the temples on my new sunglasses broke!  The design has a weakness that  will most likely cause any repair or replacement temples to break in the same place.   The problem is the Elvis/Vegas-look metal insert.   When the temple flexes, the stiff metal forces all the load to the hinge area- which then cracks.


So I designed and built replacement temples that I like better than the originals.


I just built the temples, but the entire frame could have been made with the same techniques.


Step 1: Materials and Equipment

Picture of Materials and Equipment

Materials

Printing plastic filament- I used ABS for prototyping purposes, but nylon is recommended as it is less likely to shatter on impact.


Equipment

3D Printer

Software

3D CAD design software - I used Autodesk Inventor

Step 2: Analysis

Picture of Analysis

Now I had to figure out what I liked about the original temples, and what could be improved.

Liked:   

-Color matched the rest of the frame.
-Flexible plastic- pretty sure it is nylon.

Disliked:

-The metal insert created a breakage problem.
-The metal insert design did not appeal to me - a bit too Euro-Elvis (sorry Jean-Paul).
-The temple ends curved in too abruptly- created stress on the hinge and denting my skull


So I needed  temples that were a bit longer and would  have a more gradual curve.  The fit needed to be secure enough to use for recreational activities.     Color matching would be difficult- so maybe a complementary color instead.



Step 3: Design

Picture of Design

1.  Measure the dimensions where the existing temples connect with the frame.

2. Determine the proper length and curve for the new temples.

3.  Draw!   I created a horizontal profile view, extruded the horizontal, and  then projected a vertical view  that was cut-extruded from  the horizontal.     The  edges were rounded using a variable filet feature.

If I did it again, I would probably draw a wireframe and loft the shape.

Step 4: Print & Assemble

Off to the 3D Printer.
I used ABS filament at fine resolution with 4 shell layers and 90% infill.
The holes for the temple screws were fairly small, and therefore needed some touch-up with a roto-tool.

The temples screwed right into the frame and fit quite well!

Step 5: Observations

Picture of Observations

So far, the self printed temples have held up quite well.   If I decide I like this prototype version,  I will order a resin based print out of nylon.  I think I should play a bit with the filet to have it match the profile at the joint a bit better.

This effort has inspired me to consider designing my own frames for prescription sunglasses.  I have not been able to find what the requirements are for the frame shape to be able to support standard lens blanks.  I suspect this could get tricky for 6-8 base curve lenses.  I would definitely not use ABS, and instead would web-order nylon/resin prints for a a full frame.  Nylon would probably be a bit more forgiving on impacts, and better for inserting/gripping the lenses.

The photo is an alternate design- looked nice, but the  temples were a bit too long for my taste.

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