Bespoke spectacles with 3D printing

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Spectacles directly from a 3D printer? Yes, it’s a thing, and a startup in Germany is working at capacity to serve a quickly growing market. Siemens is involved as a financer, consultant, and as a technology and solution provider for additive manufacturing.

The last time Karsten Heuser went to an optician to get a new pair of glasses, the visit started with his face being scanned with an iPad. He then tried on some sample frames to decide what form he wanted. Once he had chosen a style he liked, he could see how they looked “virtually” using the scanned image.

 

“Then the most interesting phase started, with the optician adjusting the width and the angle of the frame on the screen,” he recalls. Karsten Heuser chose one of the 15 colors available for his new glasses, and he even personalized them with an engraving of his name.

 

The optician hit “send” and off went the file for 3D printing. Best of all, the entire process took just 15 minutes. No endless trying on frames. No compromises regarding fit and color. Two weeks later he picked up his new spectacles. “I love them,” he says.

That Karsten Heuser was willing to try this new way of selecting eyewear comes as no surprise – he is after all the Vice President Additive Manufacturing at Siemens Digital Industries. And he is one of the main liaisons to You Mawo, a German startup that made Karsten Heuser’s new glasses.

Custom, sustainable eyewear

You Mawo’s frames are in high demand. Aside from the bespoke options, 3D-printed eyewear is also better for the environment. “A standard pair of spectacles, which is usually made in Southeast Asia, has a large CO2 footprint because of the shipping involved,” points out You Mawo Cofounder Daniel Szabo. A recent analysis also showed that – compared to conventional manufacturing processes – printing frames results in a 58 percent lower carbon footprint primarily because there is less waste. The time is right for custom, sustainable glasses – and You Mawo’s founders have plans to secure a chunk of the global eyewear market valued at €140 billion with some 9 billion frames being sold each year.

 

Yet an important challenge still had to be tackled before the company could fully embark on this growth trajectory: securing sufficient printing capacities. To solve this, You Mawo began working with Additive Scale, a joint venture between You Mawo and AM Global that offers eyewear frame manufacturing as a service in a factory in Kailling near Munich, Germany. With Additive Scale now operating at capacity, the focus today is on expansion so that You Mawo can fulfill its vision of becoming a driving force in the eyewear market – in Germany and abroad. This is where Siemens enters the picture.

Ultimate goal: the highest degree of automation at lightning speed

In order meet the growing market demand, more printing capacity was needed. Siemens Financial Services stepped up quickly to work out a customized leasing solution to fund the additional machines supplied by technology supplier EOS. The smart financing model enables Additive Scale to get production up and running swiftly. At the same time, risk is reduced because they can avoid shouldering hefty upfront capital investments that would otherwise be needed to acquire the right equipment.

 

Moreover, having a financing partner who understands the technology at play involved right from the onset also means it will be easier to scale and adapt the leasing model as needed, which holds enormous potential particularly as demand moves more into a pay-per-print direction.

 

However, more only means better when standard processes are in place and production is intelligently planned. This calls for digitalization, which is where specialists at Siemens, like Karsten Heuser, have gotten involved.

In the beginning a digital twin of Additive Scale’s existing factory was created. That helped the consultants at Siemens Advanta identify bottlenecks, optimize production flow and factory layout. The digital twin also provides the foundation to securely scale operations to meet increasing demand.

 

Connectivity to the machines now in use was also improved for cloud applications, such as those in the MindSphere portfolio to optimize overall equipment efficiency. Ultimately, these activities will help automate the factory in the future to the largest extent possible and to implement a well-functioning digital workflow.

Digital workflow

Among the advantages of a digital workflow is having full traceability for all manufactured products. Or eliminating manual operations to the largest extent possible. Or the ability to tweak all processes in a quest to provide the best quality.

 

The joint vision of You Mawo and Additive Scale is to have a digital factory setup that allows frames to be printed in the individual markets. “Once a market is large enough, we envision having small satellite factories so that we can fulfill customer orders quickly,” says Daniel Szabo. How quick? “Frames in ten minutes would be nice,” he replies. Time will tell if that can be achieved. In any case, things are definitely looking up for the eyewear market and all eyes are on You Mawo.

November 2021

You Mawo is a startup founded by four friends, two of whom are opticians. The idea for their company was born while on a backpacking trip in Thailand. Each person is a unique individual, they agreed, but nonetheless we all still consume mass-produced products that are anything but individual. They decided to change that, and before long the idea was developed to provide bespoke, 3D-printed eyewear. You Mawo stands for “Your Magic World.”

 

You Mawo

Established in 2021, Additive Scale is a joint venture between You Mawo and AM Global to revolutionize the way 3D-printed eyewear is made. The company serves all eyewear brands, retail chains and consumer brands that want to offer the most modern and sustainable eyewear of the world to their customers.

 

Additive Scale

AM Global assists customers in accelerating additive manufacturing of large-scale industrial applications. Its experts provide application development support, and help set up pilot factories to demonstrate target costs, quality and lead time. Furthermore, AM Global assists with production ramp up and transferring additive manufacturing production to customers and suppliers.

 

AM Global

EOS GmbH, headquartered in Krailling near Munich, is a provider of systems, materials, software and service in the field of plastic and metal laser sintering technology. This method allows the fast, flexible and cost-effective production of components based on 3D CAD data.

 

EOS

DyeMansion serves its customers with world-class technologies for every 3D-printed end-use application. From perfect-fit eyewear to personalized car interiors, DyeMansion’s technology is helping 3D-printed products to become a part of everyday life.

 

DyeMansion

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