Goethe was no fan of wearing glasses as he aged. Near-sighted Napoleon categorically refused them as well. Hardly surprising, given that the models of the day, such as rivet spectacles, the pince-nez, and scissors glasses, tended to be uncomfortable. Indeed, the roughly 700-year history of eyeglasses has been hallmarked by a struggle for greater comfort—a struggle affecting not only the rims and earpieces, but also the material itself, which has included wood, brass, and leather.
A new lightweight material: fun for eyeglass wearers and opticians alike
And now? What today’s wearers want are lightweight, highly durable frames. Leading the way is Plasteel, a new Mentor Optical Limited brand developed on the basis of VESTAKEEP® PEEK, a thermoplastic, high-performance polymer from Evonik. “The industry wants materials that are light, durable, and dimensionally stable,” says Uwe Kannengiesser from the Consumer Goods market segment at Evonik. And that’s exactly what new Plasteel glasses deliver. Take their weight: the glasses weigh just nine grams, whereas typical frames weigh 23 grams. “A key property of the base material is its enormous stress cracking resistance, which allows for thin contours that can still hold their shape,” Kannengiesser explains. “That means manufacturers can reduce the thickness of the rims and earpieces a great deal.” The new lightweight material isn’t just fun for wearers—opticians love it too, because the innovative plastic rims accommodate any lens a doctor might prescribe. As Kannengiesser points out, “The material doesn’t have to be heated - it is so tough that it retains its original shape even if the lenses are inserted with great force.”