German auto manufacturer BMW recently launched a fashion collection through its BMW i sub-brand, which is focused primarily on developing innovative vehicles using sustainable materials. The new BMW i Collection, consisting of shirts, jackets, bags and other accessories, brings this principle beyond just car making and into fashion.
And while all the items in the collection are worth noting—the t-shirt, for instance, is made from organic cotton and TENCEL, an eco-friendly Lyocell fabric derived from eucalyptus wood—it’s the accessories that have really caught our eye. More specifically, the BMW i Collection’s stylish 3D printed sunglasses.
The sunglasses, as it turns out, were designed in collaboration with PROJEKT SAMSEN, a Berlin-based eyewear brand that has been designing 3D printed glasses since 2016. Their frames, made from nylon and entirely manufactured using a selective laser sintering process, integrate a novel screw-less and hinge-less mechanism, which enable the frames to be printed in a single-piece.
By 3D printing the frames as a whole part (and by using SLS), PROJEKT SAMSEN says it is able to minimize material waste—keeping with its own philosophy and that of BMW i.
Two pairs of PROJEKT SAMSEN frames are featured in the BMW i Collection: one pair of unisex and one pair of women’s sunglasses. The sleek frames—pictured in black—can reportedly be customized using an online configurator which lets customers choose their desired colour for the frames and whether they want them to be personalized with an inscription.
The hinge mechanism that makes PROJEKT SAMSEN’s 3D printed eyewear unique relies on a combination of clever design and materials. As the design brand explains, “An innovative hinge is printed between the front and temples of the frame, without interrupting the material and without additional components. The developed flexible band forms a material taper and gives the temples the flexibility for folding the frame.”
“The nylon used is a very tough and impact-resistant plastic, which can be flexible or rigid, depending on the material thickness and geometry,” it continues. “Thereby, the frame is very robust while the hinge is very flexible. To close your glasses we invented a snap lock, consisting of an undercut in the end of the temples and a small bar coming out of the hinge while bending it. This allows you to stow [them] as every other normal pair of glasses.”
Once printed, all of PROJEKT SAMSEN’s frames undergo post-processing, including a vibratory grinding process which ensures a smooth surface, a dyeing step that uses environmentally friendly technology and a thermochemical treatment for locking the colour in place.
In addition to the BMW i collaboration, PROJEKT SAMSEN has released two of its own 3D printed eyewear collections, one in 2016 and one in 2017. Its product line, called 001, draws from classic frame styles but offers a 50% lighter frame, a more flexible fit and increased durability thanks to 3D printing and its one-piece hinge. The innovative eyewear has been recognized by numerous organizations and received the 3D Pioneers Challenge Special Mention in 2016, the Green Product Award 2016 and other accolades.
The online configurator for the sunglasses can be found on PROJEKT SAMSEN’s website and orders for the 3D printed frames are expected to be delivered to customers within a four to six week period.