What materials are used to make spectacle frames?

The following was written by Bill Evans and published in the Coolum and North Shore News, Ask the Professionals page on Friday, 26th October 2012.

Q: What materials are used to make spectacle frames?

A: Until now, spectacle frame materials have generally in fallen into one of two groups, metal or shell.

Basic metal frames are generally made out of a copper-nickel alloy. This material is generally hard wearing, though it has a couple of issues. Some people have skin reactions to copper-nickel, and they may get skin blemishes from wearing these type of frames. Also, if you spend a lot of time on the beach or fishing they may corrode easily. Stainless steel is harder than copper nickel and much less likely to corrode. Stainless is a good choice for a strong, rigid spectacle frame. Titanium is also strong and corrosion-resistant, but is also very light weight, making for a comfortable frame that is good for all-day wear. Some alloys of titanium can be made to be flexible, so the frame will spring back to its original shape when bent. Aluminium is another durable, lightweight material for frames.

Shell or plastic frames tend to look bolder and more “out there” than metal frames, as they tend to be thicker and come in lots of different colours. They’re usually very light in weight, and their shape across the bridge of the nose makes them comfortable. They tend to be made from acetate or other similar plastics.

Now timber frames are coming more into fashion. Timber has the advantages of being durable, renewable, unique and beautiful. They can be made of walnut, maple, pine, jarrah, ash, rosewood, mahogany, and many other fine cabinet timbers, in natural finishes or coloured stains. They have a design similar to shell frames, but are generally much lighter; some of our patients have said they are the most comfortable frames they’ve ever worn. For strength the timber is teamed up with composites such as carbon fibre, increasing their durability. At Bill Evans Optometrists we have a range of Fritz Frames timber eyewear, come in and experience them today.