Is 3D Printing Revolutionizing the Eyewear Industry?

After gaining immense popularity in the healthcare industry, the adoption of 3D printing in eyewear market is growing at an impressive rate. Though the eyewear applications of 3D printing are still in a nascent stage, recent advancements in technology are putting an innovation spin to the market.

Though the 3D printing in eyewear market is still in its infancy, it carries massive potential for fetching profits, and can create tremendous opportunities for innovation. Taking this into consideration, Transparency Market Research (TMR) conducted a thorough study into how 3D printing technology is bringing in a new digital revolution in the eyewear market. It is a comprehensive research on the existing market opportunities and futuristic overview on how stakeholders in the 3D printing industry as well as the eyewear market can leverage these changes in market dynamics in the coming years.

3d printing in eyewear market infographic

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Lucrative Business Opportunities for 3D Printing Companies in the Eyewear Market

Innovation was, and still is, a trigger for the battle between market leaders and new entrants in the 3D printing in eyewear landscape. Yet, rise in the implementation of 3D printing in eyewear market is an end result of necessity more than that of the power of investments. As of 2019, the 3D printing in eyewear market is projected to be worth ~US$ 500 million, and is expected to increase at least 2.5X by the end of 2027.

Consumers are becoming aware about the expansive scope of 3D printing technology across industries, and how it can offer multitudinous features of consumer products. Thereby, a mounting number of stakeholders, including global leaders and startups in the eyewear market, are focusing on diversifying their product range with the adoption of 3D printing technology. Some of the examples include:

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In October 2019, a 3D printing company – Carbon, announced that it is entering into a partnership with J of JINS – a luxury eyewear brand from Japan, to launch its new eyewear brand –Neuron4D. The company is aiming to expand its line of 3D printed eyewear products using its digital light synthesis (DSL) technology for integrating 3D printed features into frames made with traditional materials from J of JINS.

In March 2019, Luxexcel – a leading manufacturer of 3D printed lenses – announced that it will be entering the ophthalmic and smart eyewear markets with its lenses 3D printed, using its VisionPlatform technology. The company further announced that its new eyewear product brings traditional lenses much closer to modern eyewear with in smart features.

In February 2018, Sculpteo – a French company specialized in 3D printing in the cloud – announced that it had established a partnership with a French startup and eyewear manufacturing company – Octobre71. The company announced that frames are manufactured using a polyamide material through a selective laser sintering (SLS) process, which is reliable, fast, as well as economical.

Investors and other leading stakeholders are noticing the beginning of the ‘3D revolution’ in eyewear designs and products, and this is likely to incur a sea of change in manufacturers’ strategies in this landscape, in the coming years.

Growing Popularity of Customization Underscores Emerging Market Trends

Even though the popularity of 3D printed sunglasses and other eyewear products is increasing at a rapid pace, consumer demand for 3D printed safety eyewear and ophthalmic products is still significantly low. The sales of 3D printed safety eyewear products account for merely 4% revenue share of the 3D printing in eyewear market.

In order to deal with this issue, market players may have to introduce products with safer and sturdier materials such as polyamide and meet the safety regulations established by governing bodies. However, another strategy that can help stakeholders boost their sales of 3D printed eyewear is to offer customization in the design of 3D printed eyewear.

A mounting number of leading developers in the 3D printing in eyewear market are focusing on introducing technology that can manufacture eyewear products according to the facial measurements of consumers. Introducing custom designs for every frame through 3D printing and meeting the specific needs of individual consumers is expected to emerge as a key to win in the eyewear market, in the coming years.

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3D Printing in Eyewear: Definition/Overview

  • 3D printing is a process of creating a 3-dimensional solid object of any shape from a digital model. 3D printed objects are created through multiple layers of 3D printing materials.
  • 3D printing in eyewear comprises 3D printing materials, glasses, and frames. Applications of 3D printing in eyewear include reading glasses, sunglasses, safety glasses, and others (including sport glasses).
  • The global 3D printing in eyewear market is expanding rapidly, as the scope for the application of 3D printing has widened from prototyping to the manufacturing of end-use products such as sunglasses, safety glasses, and reading glasses.

Global 3D Printing in Eyewear Market: Regional Overview

  • North America is expected to hold the maximum share of the global 3D printing in eyewear market during the forecast period, due to the early adoption of 3D printing in eyewear in the region. China and Japan are expected to remain major contributors to the Asia Pacific 3D printing in eyewear market in the next few years. The 3D printing in eyewear market in the region is expanding at a rapid pace, especially in countries such as China, Japan, and India. These countries are expected to be markets with high growth potential in the near future also.
  • South America and the Middle East & Africa hold a minor share in the global 3D printing in eyewear market. However, these regions are projected to provide lucrative opportunities to manufacturers of 3D printed eyewear during the forecast period.
  • Additive production specialists are implementing projects for 3D printing in eyewear companies, while several of these companies are also planning to set up manufacturing plants in Asia Pacific. This, in turn, is expected to boost the 3D printing in eyewear market in the region during the forecast period.

Global 3D Printing in Eyewear Market: Trends

  • Manufacturers are investing in the launch of new products in the global 3D printing in eyewear market. Market players are gaining competitive advantages over other players with the launch of new products and investments through partnerships and funding.
  • For instance, Wires Glasses Ltd., a 3D printing in eyewear startup, announced an investment from True Ventures, along with the launch of its new collection of modular eyewear.
  • Carbon, a 3D printing company, has expanded its line of luxury eyewear products.
  • Furthermore, a few manufacturers of 3D printed eyewear have developed special finishing processes to deliver a smoother surface finish and more vibrant colors, while reducing porosity of the material. This, in turn, is anticipated to boost the global 3D printing in eyewear market in the next few years.

Global 3D Printing in Eyewear Market: Opportunities and Restraints

  • At present, customers have the option of selecting the design of eyewear by themselves, and they can buy customized eyewear as per their needs; for example, frames with reduced weight. This, in turn, is driving the global 3D printing in eyewear market.
  • The cost incurred for the 3D printing process is much higher than that of the traditional manufacturing process of eyewear. The high cost of printing led by the cost of printers and software is restraining the global 3D printing in eyewear market.

Global 3D Printing in Eyewear Market: Key Segments

The global 3D printing in eyewear market has been segmented based on material, type, application, and region.

  • By Material
    • In terms of material, the global 3D printing in eyewear market can be segregated into polyamide 12 (nylon), photopolymers, metals, and others.
    • Among the materials, polyamide 12 (nylon) was the dominant segment of the global 3D printing in eyewear market in . In addition, polyamide 12 possesses good mechanical properties. It is known for its tensile strength, toughness, and flexibility. Polyamide 12 is a largely used 3D printing material for consumer goods such as eyewear.
  • By Type
    • Based on type, the global 3D printing in eyewear market can be segmented into ready-to-use and customized.
    • In terms of revenue, the ready-to-use segment holds the leading market share, due to the wide-ranging application of 3D printing in reading glasses and sunglasses.
    • On the other hand, the customized segment is expected to expand at a significant rate during the forecast period.
  • By Application
    • In terms of application, the global 3D printing in eyewear market can be classified into reading glasses, sunglasses, safety glasses, and others.
    • The reading glasses segment dominates the global market, and is projected to continue its dominance during the forecast period.
    • The sunglasses segment is expected to expand at a high CAGR during the forecast period, followed by the reading glasses segment.

Global 3D Printing in Eyewear Market: Competition Dynamics

  • Attracted by growth of the global 3D printing in eyewear market and the underlying latent demand for 3D printed eyewear, several players operating in the global 3D printing in eyewear market are expanding their business through new product development, strategic mergers and acquisitions, and partnerships.
  • Formlabs Inc. focuses on the design and performance of 3D printed eyewear, while minimizing the time and cost involved in its manufacture. Additionally, in January 2018, the company introduced Rigid & Grey resin, which offers higher precision and versatile material properties during the manufacture of 3D printed eyewear.
  • Glasses USA Inc. emphasizes offering flexible, durable, and lightweight 3D printed eyewear. Moreover, the company plans to increase its focus on offering 3D printed eyewear at affordable prices.
  • LUXeXceL Group B.V. focuses on technological innovations in order to develop advanced products. Additionally, the company announced that its proprietary 3D printing technology has advanced from the pilot phase toward the printing of commercial lenses.

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