Custom 3D printed glasses from Protos Eyewear

When a few makers started printing their own glasses frames, I made a comment about a future service offering custom glasses frames based on taking pictures of our faces with smartphones. We now have that service, or at least we soon will. Protos Eyewear is currently being crowdfunded, and it looks like it will make its goal.

Protos 3D printed frames

It really is as simple as it sounds: take a front and side picture of your face with a credit card in the scene for scale, and upload. Algorithms calculate how to size and shape the glasses to perfectly fit your unique snowflake of a face; you’ll be shown three “potential options” and you get to choose your favorite. I wasn’t sure if that meant you can pick from their 24+ frames the ones that you’d like to be custom fit, or if they choose the three that will best fit you. So I emailed them and it’s both. You can choose which frames you’d like, but they’ll still recommend three frames that will best fit you; if you don’t like any of the three then they’ll fit the ones of your choice. That’s a good model I think.

Currently they only come in black, but I’m sure that will change as there will be a high demand for color frames. Prescription lenses or non-prescription sunglass lenses are included, as well as a one-year warranty. And they have a no-questions-asked return/exchange policy.

If you buy your glasses from your eye doctor, you’ll probably like the price of Protos, $199 for stock fit and $399 for custom fit (update: all early bird stock fits have been upgraded to custom!). Stock fit is just as it sounds; you choose the frames you like and they’re 3D printed and shipped to you with your prescription lenses. If you buy your glasses online, even the stock fit will likely be more expensive than what you’re used to paying. But it’s 3D printed, and the team has developed a proprietary material that they say is very tough and will outlast the online-bought frames.

Usually the highest tier crowdfunding rewards are a bit ridiculous, like going on a hiking trip with the team, but in this case, it’s pretty cool: for $9,999 you get a custom fit pair of frames (lenses oddly not included) every year for life, AND a paid trip to the funding party.

protos eyewear website

  • Jeff

    Where I see this really ramping up is replaceemnt glasses (for when a frame breaks).

    The business model for the eyeglass industry is like the jewlery industry: markups of several hundred percent from the wholesale price of a frame, and several thousand from the production cost. (the frame that the store sells for $150 may cost the store as little as $30 retail and cost as little as $3 – $5 to produce). Thats for metal frames. When someones frame breaks, and they don’t have a warranty, they often (now) need to buy new lenses and frame ($150 – $250 total). A 3d printed replacement frame, designed around the shape of their existing lenses, would be a viable option for anywhere from a few weeks / months while they saved for a new pair to as long as they might normally wait before having thier eyes examined again.

    • John

      Why wouldn’t you just buy the 3D printed frame in the first place? It would address all of the same problems. It looks like these frames use SLS printing which prints some extremely durable parts so I don’t see why not.

      • Jeff

        Some will. But some prefer the look of metal (wire) frames or a combination of metal wire and rimless. However, those that prefer that look may still balk at replacing the frame, at full cost, months before they expected to.

        Fashion is a hard trend to predict.
        Utility is easier, but still banks on knowing how someone will use an item in the future.
        items that can save people money and/or time are usually a real good bet (to become a trend).