It used to be that a bit of injection molded plastic was all you needed to make a decent pair of designer sunglasses. Today it seems like virgin plastic is becoming both old and passé. Modern eyewear designers appear to be looking at every possible alternative for no other reason than to avoid plastic altogether. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, by the way.
In recent years we’ve seen the emergence of wood-framed sunglasses. We have also seen companies embrace recycled plastics like used water bottles and discarded fishing nets. There’s even a company in Ukraine that has figured out how to make sunglasses with discarded coffee grounds and flax.
If you are intrigued with the idea of new sunglasses that keep plastic out of landfills, then denim sunglasses from a UK company known as Mosevic should intrigue you. They are the latest iteration of eyewear designed around sustainability and a trendy style.
A Plastic That’s Not a Plastic
Mosevic considers their denim sunglasses as an upcycled product. The interesting thing is that they are using denim to create a plastic that’s not your typical petroleum-based plastic. If you’re confused, be patient. The explanation is forthcoming.
Denim is a fabric that, left unaltered, could not be used to make eyewear frames. So Mosevic takes a page from the composites fabrication book. Enter carbon fiber. The material most of us recognize as carbon fiber is really a carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). It is made by combining carbon fiber fabric with an epoxy resin. When the resulting combination is cured, it becomes a plastic – by way of the resin – reinforced by the carbon fibers within.
Mosevic does essentially the same thing with denim. They stack multiple layers of denim and then impregnate the entire stack with a resin. That resin eventually cures to create a single-piece finished product – a plastic if you will. You have a plastic reinforced by denim fabric instead of carbon fiber fabric.
In that sense, their denim-based material is very similar to a CFRP. But the resulting product is not the same as a petroleum-based plastic forced through an injection mold machine to create eyewear frames.
Soft and Flexible
Although Mosevic’s denim material is similar to carbon fiber in some ways, it’s also softer and more flexible. The material is just solid and rigid enough to stand up as a frame for sunglasses but still soft and flexible enough to adapt to any face. The exterior surface of the material is also finished to make it a bit softer and resistant to moisture and sunscreen.
The result of all of this engineering is a pair of sunglasses that is as tough as carbon fiber but as soft as a pair of jeans – all in a product that makes use of denim waste rather than injection molded plastics.
Plastic Still Rule the Day
With so many creative projects featuring sunglasses made with nontraditional materials, one might wonder if traditional plastics are on their way out. There is no way to know for sure, but plastics still rule for now. And according to Olympic Eyewear of Salt Lake City, Utah, it’s hard to beat their benefits.
Petroleum-based plastics fabricated by way of injection mold technology are incredibly cheap to produce. Manufacturers can create a single pair of frames for pennies. Moreover, they can mass produce their frames at alarmingly fast rates. Smaller manufacturers using things like discarded coffee grounds and denim just cannot compete on price or speed.
Who needs plastic sunglasses anymore? No one, really. But they still are the cheapest and easiest to come by.