Can You 3D Print Glasses? Thoughts of an Optician

You can absolutely 3D print glasses. Depending on how serious you are about it all the components could come out of a 3D printer. When I speak about all of them I speak about the frame, the lenses, and the hinges. The market is growing and while most manufacturers still utilize traditional CNC machines or injection molding to produce glasses you will learn more in this article on how to 3D print your pair glasses.

3D printing is huge in possibilities and there are a lot of things you can do which are not possible with traditional manufacturing methods. This includes rapid prototyping, include an actual impression of the ears or the nose into the .stl file of the frame, and saving a lot of material due to the addictive nature of the manufacturing process.

You can print unbelievable shapes in cool material mixes. The problem though with 3D printing is nearly all even high-end printers are definitely not capable of printing lenses. Yes, there are some online tutorials that show how to 3D print lenses but this processes especially with the finishing only apply to lenses that have rotational symmetry. This means every bifocal, progressive lens or even a lens with astigmatism is not possible to print for you.

However, if you are serious about this topic Luxexcel is able to print lenses. In the quality, you need to be able to see through them. You can try to print them on your own with FDM, SLA, or SLS technology. It simply does not matter. I believe the chance you can produce lenses that actually work with a prescription is very slim. Trust me. Been there done that. (As you can see in the pictures of printed prototypes below.)

As you can see in the picture you could not use those lenses period. Even with lots and lots of finishing you were still not able to produce a quality comparable to prescription lenses that could be bought everywhere.

We tried experimenting with the mentioned technologies, and with the software and different 3D printing shops. Currently, it was not possible to get 3D printed lenses except for Luxexcel and a university I will mention below.

3D Printing Frames

3D printing your own frames is easily possible for most people with a 3D printer at home. There are many data sets available for free or for a small fee that you could use to print your own frames. Tutorials like the one below are also available. You just need a little time and little CAD skills to make your own glasses frames a reality.

You can use a lot of materials to print your glasses frame. If you have a look at the different filaments the sheer variety of choices is unbelievable. Even if you take into account that you need a skin-friendly material.

So, first of all, you need a design. You can basically go with the measurements of your own glasses to have a starting point for the total dimensions of the frame. When you have those you can ask yourself how the temples should be attached to the middle of the frame. You could attach metal hinges to the 3D printed frame or simply print the frame entirely. In most cases when the hinges have also been printed the frame will look a little clunky for most people.

With the tutorials online you get little tips on how to design your glasses so the 3D printer is able to produce the frame. It is better to watch someone do it in a video compared to explaining this in a blog. This is why I included this video above. Because explaining this in the text would be too longsome.

By the way, if you need some inspiration or simply just the stl here is the link to

3D Printing Lenses With Prescription

If you want to 3D print lenses with a prescription you first need to get into the lens design. Is it possible? Sure it is possible if you want to spend months on a pair of lenses. Everything is actually online available to accomplish the goal. From standardized single vision lenses up to free form high-end lenses. I have done it myself with this patent DE: 10 2008 022 010.8.

Although these 3D printed lenses looked very polished quite transparent the optics were still lightyears away from being comparable to commercially available lenses.

So if it is possible for me it is definitely possible for you too. BUT getting a company to actually 3D print your own lens design is nearly impossible. When you do not have a data set that has production-ready material you will have no choice to get in. The technology simply is not available to the masses to 3D print your own ophthalmic lenses yet. Look at the 3D printer in the video. It shows you the company Luxexcel that is able to produce 3D printed lenses. But as far as I know they do not have any competitors yet.

And you can not simply call them or send them your .stl file for 3D printing. This is simply not how it works. However, there are a lot of smart people dedicated to developing lenses that could be 3D printed. Most of those work with 3D printing of micro-optics using 2-photon lithography, which you can not use for your regular glasses nor will you get access to such a 3D printer.

So in a nutshell: do not try to go into 3D printing your own lenses yet. I am sure this time will also come as technology evolves quickly but we are still some years away until you get access to print your own glasses entirely. For now, simply focus on the frame.

If you still want to go deep into developing your own lens design I have two recources here which might be helpful for your project. Part of each source is dedicated to free-form surfaces. 1 ,2.

I wish you a great day.

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