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Aussie-made 3D printed frames feature unique hinge design

University of Canberra students are developing locally made, “hyper-personalised” eyewear that involves 3D printing frames to the millimetre based on the wearer’s individual facial dimensions.

The design initiative – known as the ID7 project – also features a unique hinge design, removing the traditional screws and replacing them with a ball bearing and spring.

The project is a collaboration between the Faculty of Arts and Design and the Faculty of Health, seeing UC Bachelor of Design students design the frames – and the UC Optometry Clinic fit the prescription lenses.

Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Design Professor Jason Bainbridge said the collaboration was an example of what can be achieved when distinct areas of expertise are brought together.

The hinge features a ball bearing and spring design.

“The ID7 project shows just how exciting the creative outcomes can be when students from different disciplines work together,” he said.

“UC is the home of creativity in Canberra, and this project further showcases that. This is one of the first projects in Australia – if not the world – of its kind.”

The initiative aims to have consumers directly involved in their eyewear design process.

To create the eyewear, 3D models are created using the wearer’s specific facial dimensions. Using stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing, the frames are developed to the millimetre, eliminating the need for moulds or tooling

Once the frame components are printed, they undergo an organic dying process to match the wearers colour choices. Once complete, parts are processed ready for lens fitting by the UC eye clinic – meaning they are locally made from end-to-end.

The hinge is designed to constantly be at tension. By removing screws that traditional hinges incorporate and replacing it with a ball bearing and spring, project leaders say this allows for an even amount of pressure to be applied, requiring minimal adjustment over time.

With each frame having the same hinge, this also allows for different frames to be switched with the same temples or vice versa.

“It’s really incredible the way the design students have thought outside of the box and created a totally new eyewear prototype,” Bainbridge said.

“The future of eyewear just may have been created right here at UC.”

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