As a rule, I don’t do predictions. I have always found that my Mystic Meg capabilities are not up too much and I hate the idea of ruling anything out. I am very much a “live and think in the present” kind of person. However, I am going to throw all that aside to vouch for 3D printing. 3D printing has become increasingly widespread and developed, to the point that individuals can create customised goods and services at relatively affordable prices. My argument is that 3D printing is going to be the next big thing – transforming the way we consume products and the role of the retail store. With customers telling companies what they want, 3D printing looks to dramatically challenge the traditional consumer-producer relationship, and place a new emphasis on the consumer as an “individual”, rather than part of an uninspired, misunderstood mass.
One example that demonstrates the capabilities and possibilities of 3D printing is Make Eyewear, a Texas-based company that sells 3D printed sunglasses and frames for around $150 from their website. Shoppers are able to choose from a selection of frame styles (ranging from geekchic to Gaga-esque), colours (from a bold orange to a casual black), sizes and prescriptions. Plus, if this isn’t enough for the shopper inner-design guru, Make Eyewear also offers a bespoke option (for $450). This exciting route consists of customers sending Make Eyewear a sketch or some inspirational photos of what they are looking for, after which they are paired with a designer to refine the design and generate a 3D model of their spectacles. Once the model is approved, the idea is then brought to life using an SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) machine. SLS manufacturing enables more eccentric and creative designs compared with traditional methods. Hey presto, and how very couture.
Thus, in theory, Make Eyewear attempts to eliminate that horrible moment (unflattering lighting, and new haircut later) when you realise that you do not like your glasses, even if the option of ordering glasses online (without trying them on) seems rather bold. The glasses are also non-refundable, with the potential consequence that you may end up questioning your own taste through some lime-green, square frames. However, I like that Make Eyewear are trying to shake up the world of spectacles, and in the process make me go gooey-eyed for some unique and eye-catching eyewear.