We made a pair of sunglasses from scratch. A year and a half ago on Valentine’s Day we got a message on instagram from a Canadian guy called Spencer.
As soon as we read the message we were blown away, we had never even considered making sunglasses and now this opportunity made it possible. We immediately went to check out his profile and there were hundreds of proofs of 3D printing of frames, proofs of dyeing lenses, screen printing on fabrics and cardboard, light colour tests and much more that we could barely understand.
We immediately got in touch and started exchanging references, he sent us his first prototype (The Temple Frames) and we realised the scope of his work. From that moment on, a constant relationship was born, mainly via the Internet and a couple of times also in person, marked by the various stages of the creation of the first Abicsi & Rayon Vert Sunglasses.
Some of the weird stuff that guy does.
The Abicsi-Rayon Vert Pact celebrates the union
We have always used sports glasses on our travels, especially in the mountains it is almost obligatory to protect our eyes. For years we have used vintage Oakleys (which we are aesthetically in love with), which in addition to the excellent quality of the lenses have a proven sturdiness. The price, however, continues to rise steadily and the plastics are unfortunately starting to arrive close to their expiry date, and more and more often they break unexpectedly.
We therefore started to put down on paper what we wanted for our glasses.
As for the frame:
– We wanted eyewear that was first and foremost sporty, so very durable, with strong (and snap-on) hinges that would fit securely on the face.
– We wanted it to be full-frame (actually we didn’t have much choice as the material wouldn’t otherwise hold the lenses)
– We wanted eyewear that was not too wraparound so that it could also be used with prescription lenses and more.
– We wanted it to be a sports goggle that had the opportunity to have an integrated back lacing system, that it would be immovable if needed, and that it wouldn’t collapse whether the wearer is running down a mountain or bunjee jumping from a cliff.
– We wanted it to be lightweight
As for the lenses:
– We wanted lenses that were high quality, safe and tested.
– We wanted them to have good sun protection (especially designed for mid-mountain) but not to be too dark that they couldn’t be used in dark areas.
– We wanted them to have good contrast when used in natural environments (forest/trail)
One of the very first sketches concerning the sunglasses.
We then started sending each other sketches from one side of the globe to the other and, after buying a 3D printer, we started printing prototypes in our studio in PLA (a biodegradable plastic made from renewable sources, it is the main polymer used for home 3D printers).
Here is the slicing of one of the first versions (you can see that all the lines are smooth and the hinges are missing).
We used to print these versions in our workshop in Milan, Italy, and they helped us to understand the fit of the sunglasses in the first phase.
One of the first versions with hinges, printed with an additive 3D printer in Toronto, Canada.
After the first few months in which we worked on the shape of the glasses and the fit, we started to produce some glasses with the final material and processing (the only way to test them with the lenses inserted). The material we chose to produce the definitive glasses that would give us the right balance of strength, lightness, flexibility and dyeing possibilities is Nylon 12 powder, the same material used in the clothing industry. To process it, a special 3D printer is used that employs a technique called Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). The operation of this machine is quite simple, the nylon powder inside is hardened only at the determined points by a high powered laser, thus allowing many glasses to be printed at the same time, in very high quality, without the need for supports (and having the possibility of re-using part of the non-hardened powder for future projects).
After sintering, the frames are batch dyed, under pressure, to maximise colour fastness. The nylon of the glasses is dyed in the same way as the nylon used for clothing. Each pair of frames is then individually finished by hand.
Detail of the Rayon Vert logo on the arms of the glasses, you can see the high quality of detail given by this printing technique.
This is one of the first SLS-printed prototypes we tested (dyeing is still missing, the nylon looks rough)
For the lenses, we decided to use CR-39 lenses, which are among the most popular in the sporting environment (CR-39 stands for Columbia Resin #39. Its recipe was the 39th formula of a light weight thermosetting plastic developed by Columbia-Southern Chemical Corporation in 1940). This kind of lense offers superior optics, comparable to glass, at approximatly half the weight.
When it comes to lens characteristics then there are two factors to keep in mind:
– The first is sun protection, we have used UV400 lenses, meaning that the glasses protect against UV-A, UV-B and intense sunlight. It absorbs more than 90% of the light itself; the glasses can therefore be used for outdoor sports on sunny days (for high mountains, however, we recommend even more protective lenses).
– The second is the contrast of the lenses. The colour and its intensity influence how and what the user sees when using a particular pair of glasses. The lenses are tinted in a two-stage dying process in Abicsi’s workshop in Toronto. First, the lenses are dyed red. Red was chosen as a base colour due to its ability to absorb green wavelengths of light. By absorbing green light, the lenses enhance contrast of green and brown tones. Next, the lenses are over-dyed with grey to bring down the overall visible light transmission to 33%.
Above is the light permeability test performed on the Rubidium Red lenses used for the Wormholes Sunglasses. As you can see the green frequencies are among the most clipped, this means that reducing these frequencies results in the highest contrast in areas of forest undergrowth, meadows etc… making it easier for our eyes (and later our brains) to recognise e.g. safe hazards while running or the best line while riding a singletrack on a mountain bike.
Andrea looks at the sun through his Rubidium Red lenses from Rayon Vert headquarters.
We’ve always been accustomed to adding a drawstring behind the temples of our glasses so that we have them firmly fixed on the temples at the most challenging times. So when it came time to design our sunglasses, we wanted them to have this feature built in. We therefore designed the temples so that they are hollow and a thin dyneema cable can pass through them and can be secured simply with a knot near the hinge. On the back of the head there is a cordlock so that it can be adjusted as desired. The cord, as it is only locked with a knot, can be removed in case someone prefers the goggles without it.
Detail of the knot on the inside of the temple in one of the early prototypes (missing logos on the inside of the temple and an additional window showing the passage of the lanyard)
Aaaand, the Wormholes Sunglasses weigh 22.8 grams without lanyard, 24 grams with it!
Just 24 grams for a pair of full frame sunglasses is astonishing!
And here is the result of these months of work:
The glasses come with a drawstring bag made of ECOPAK™. ECOPAK™ is the world’s only composite fabric made with 100% recycled fibre and film, it does not contain toxic solvents or VOC’s and the outer film lasts 5 times longer in the sun than conventional film used in other fabrics. The box they come in is made of recycled cardboard, hand screen printed in Abicsi’s studio in Canada using only water based ink produced using only solar energy.
The glasses and lenses were tested according to CE regulations and in May 2023 we received the results. The Wormholes Sunglasses with Rubidicum Red lenses passed every test.
We presented the glasses in Milan on 17th June 2023, here are some pictures of the night by Bico.
We would especially like to thank Alibi who took care of all the renders and the video.
Dario Sbattella who was the operator for the video.
Vieri dalla Chiesa who coloured the video.
Nicolò Barbieri who did the 2D animations.
Sofia Blu for acting wonderfully.
Alek Mari for the makeup.
Mino Luchena for creating an incredible scenery to present the sunglasses.
Dany Bar (Ragno) for allowing us to use their space.
The glasses are available from July on our website, soon new updates.