3D printing pioneers for eyewear of the future: personalised made-to-measure frames. Unique & sustainable 3D-printed eyewear, based on a 3D-scan, produced exclusively for the wearer. YOU MAWO benefits from a scalable and reproducible process and a wide range of available colours.
Who are YOU MAWO?
YOU MAWO combine traditional craftsmanship with state-of-the-art technology to create precise fit, custom eyewear.
INTERVIEW WITH SEBASTIAN ZENETTI
Managing Director and Head of Sales at YOU MAWO.
More and more companies produce 3d-printed eyewear. What makes YOU MAWO different from the others?
Because we are producing the eyewear of the future. Customised eyewear. To understand that, you must understand the traditional way to produce eyewear – which is still the same as 50 years ago. There have been no big innovations. We are searching for new technologies that have a benefit for both, the end consumers, and the optician.
Data, software, and artificial intelligence play an important role for your business. What does that mean?
We are focusing on customization, which so far is a niche. Why?
First, it needs a lot of time for the optician to make all the measurements for a customized frame – it can take up to two hours.
Second, the production itself, since it’s handmade. That also takes a lot of
time and is very expensive.
And the third point is that the end consumer does not really know what they will receive.
Our goal was to make the scanning and measurement part as simple as possible. And therefore, we developed a system where we can use the Dev cameras of iPads and iPhones to create a face scan based on infrared technology in less than 20 seconds. No extra hardware is required.
Ready for real customization?
Why did you start with 3d-printing?
One of my co-founders worked for a medical company in the past and they used 3D-printing for medical devices. That was really inspiring. Around ten years ago, he came up with the idea of producing eyewear from polyamide using Selective Laser Sintering.
In the beginning, we did not start a company, it was more like a hobby. The brother of my co-founder has down’s syndrome and we thought, that with SLS 3D-printing we might be able to customise his frames based on his face. We just tried, and it worked. It fitted better than everything before and the frames were so durable. For us, that was a game changer. Because we realized that we can really provide a benefit to people.
What kind of challenges were you facing when you started with 3d-printing?
The idea itself was really a no-brainer, but we did not anticipate how hard the development would be.
Customisation is difficult in two ways — there is the atomic perfect fit and the aesthetic fit. These different parts have to work together.
On the other hand, eyewear is something we have on our face 12 hours for 365 days a year. UV-light, sweat, and various cosmetics are working all day long on the material, colouring and the finish.
The 3D-printing technology is amazing, and I am sure it will change the way how we think of our industry and what we are doing right now is just the beginning. But to get even there was a long way. Frames might look like a simple 3D-printed application, but in the end, we have three parts and all of them must fit perfectly together. In addition to that, we need parts to be skin-friendly.
Ready for real customization and series production thanks to industrial technologies
How did you solve these challenges?
We started with the basics, like which kind of production technology is the best. After a while it was clear that we would go with SLS printing. We said, let’s go to the company, which is developing that kind of technology, which was EOS. We connected with them and immediately had supporters on our side. They really helped us a lot to move forward with our application. So we found the right production technology, but that is just the first step.
Next step: We needed the right finishing technology. Good surfacing and colouring to turn the parts into a product.
Is that was the point where you met the DyeMansion founders Felix & Philipp?
Exactly. That is where we got connected to DyeMansion. I can still remember the first brainstorming session we had in their first office, which was just like one room. We sat there and were thinking about the industry and how we could work together, how DyeMansion could provide the surfacing and colouring for our frames.
Today, we are working with more than 800 business partners in 20 countries. We have a completely new level of quality. Of course, one of the biggest challenges was a scalable and reproducible process. That was the main part of the development within the last years and where DyeMansion was one of the most important partners to achieve this. Not only for us, but for the whole industry. Their technology is state of the art and I do not know any kind of competitor, who are really doing well, that are not using DyeMansion technology.
Where do you see the biggest benefits of an end-to-end workflow around 3d-printing?
One of the biggest benefits we have for the end consumers, the frames are really durable and 30% lighter than traditional plastic frames.
The second benefit is for opticians. On average, opticians have more than 3000 frames in stock, often even more. But why so many? Because there are so many people outside the box. With our technology, opticians can now provide them with perfect fit eyewear, tailored to their face.
Finally, the technologies and processes we set up, offer huge benefits to us as a brand. We are very close to a just-in-time production capability and we have absolute freedom of design and the ability to produce frames one by one.
For the SLS machine, it makes no difference if we have 100 of the same frame or 100 different frames loaded for building.
Apart from that, the big brands have to order stock half a year in advance. At that time, they do not even really know if they will sell the product. And I am pretty sure that a lot of brands are throwing tons of frames away.
Looking at customised consumer products, what comes to our mind are colors. So how many colours do you offer and is there any limit in the future?
We have a wide range of colours, 15 at the moment, but we have a lot of more ideas for colours and that is fantastic. Sometimes we just see a colour on a shirt for example, that we really like and we think “that’s a nice colour!”.
With DyeMansion’s Colour Matching we can match that colour in our frames. So basically, there are no limits here.
THE BENEFITS AT A GLANCE
From plastic parts to superior products
YOU MAWO‘s many years of experience, combined with EOS technology and the DyeMansion Print-to-Product work-flow enables high-quality, end-use products, at scale and are the basis for mass-customisation.
Short Innovation Cycles & a more Sustainable Production?
3D-printing helps with frequent product customization and helps shorten innovation cycles. For example, a small amount of a product can be produced and tested. If there are adjustments, they can be made quickly, and new parts produced without wasting parts. The intermediate step of tool and mould production is not required. This also makes innovation cycles more sustainable.
Superior Products With Optimized Haptics
Thanks to the tumbling step (3rd party technology) and the DyeMansion PolyShot Surfacing, the parts not only achieve an ideal surface for subsequent colouring, but also a surface finish that is perceived as premium. This finish transforms the raw part into a scratch-resistant application that is suitable for daily use.
So-Certified Colours For Daily Use on Your Skin
The original problem of colour abrasion after painting the plastic parts no longer exists with the use of DyeMansion‘s DeepDye Coloring. During the process, the dye is absorbed deep into the part and withstands daily wear and tear, even if it is scratched. In addition, the dye does not fade, even when the eyewear is used for a long time.
Industrial Scale Manufacturing Through Reproducible Processes
For YOU MAWO, large scale production is possible. Not only because of the EOS SLS technology used, but also because of the reproducible processes of the DyeMansion print-to-product workflow. By using defined and consistent parameters for Cleaning & PolyShot Surfacing and the DM60‘s cartridge system, it can be ensured that every part looks the same.
Producing in the markets for the markets
What is the future of eyewear?
We really want to change the industry. It sounds huge and it sounds loud, but we really believe that we can do this in different ways. In one or two years from now, we want to produce in the markets for the markets. That has so many benefits for us. For example, shorter lead times. This means shorter delivery times and manpower in the countries for the countries.
Covid taught us that supply chains are fragile. With the help of digital manufacturing and automatisation, we want to bring the process to a whole new level. Imagine us offering a custom frame for the same price as a standard frame! What will you choose?