Why Our TR90 Thermoplastic Trumps Other Materials
What Is Covered In This Article
The Materials Used for Glasses
Your options for glasses frames are nearly endless and what you choose reflects your personal style and priorities. Different materials allow for a variety of manufacturing processes which affect their design, weight, durability, and flexibility. The style and material a glasses wearer picks is a culmination of all these factors and more. There are two main components to our custom Visualites reading glasses: the lenses and the frames. We knew from day one that we were going with optical quality lenses. The quality and vision defects you get with cheaper plastic lenses were not in alignment with the glasses we wanted to make. At Visualites, our highest priority is to provide our customers with lightweight reading glasses they can barely feel when wearing them. We also wanted to make them stylish and able to be paired with a variety of colors. On top of that, we wanted our glasses to hold up for a long life of use, which is why we use TR90 thermoplastic material as the leading candidate for our frames.
TR90 Thermoplastic Material
So what exactly is TR90 and why do we use it for making all of our Visualites lightweight rimless reading glasses? TR90 is a thermoplastic material which is extremely lightweight, flexible, and incredibly durable. Originally produced by Swiss technology, TR90 is a transparent polymer that offers outstanding properties for making user products, like eyeglass frames, including excellent flexural fatigue strength, high resistance to chemicals and a final product that is very low in susceptibility to stress cracking. Other amorphous thermoplastics are much more prone to stress cracking which is often the cause of people breaking their glasses. Other qualities, such as the high heat distortion temperature, may not sound like much, but other plastics can begin to break down even in the heat of a car interior on a sunny day. So, while using TR90 may cost more to make a pair of frames for reading glasses, the benefits listed here (and others not mentioned), make TR90 the material we decided to use to fulfill our mission of creating “The most exceptional line of lightweight rimless readers at the most competitive price possible.”
What other materials did we consider before deciding on TR90? Well, here are a few other popular materials in the industry and some of their properties.
Acetate: Durable – but Heavy
Acetate is a human made material that is derived from cellulose and is semi-synthetic. Wood pulp is combined with a chemical, often acetic acid, acetic anhydride and sulphuric acid, then spun or mixed into fibers that are molded into shapes or hardened into sheets. While Acetate is durable, there are several factors that do not make it the ideal material for lightweight readers. First the material is much heavier than TR90 so you will feel them more when wearing them, second it is not flexible so the frames are not as comfortable and more prone to breaking, and third the heat resistance and point at which the material starts to soften is much lower than TR90. Additionally, Acetate, when used as a frame material, needs to be thicker – which also does not lend itself to our design or goal.
Nylon: Inexpensive and Flexible – but Brittle
Nylon is inexpensive to make and somewhat flexible but does not hold up in the field of durability, frames made with Nylon become brittle with age and break easily. You will most often find this material used in cheaper reading glasses and sunglasses. Clearly not the choice for Visualites.
Ultem: Lightweight and Durable – but Expensive and Too Flexible
Ultem is a polyetherimide resin plastic, also known as PVC. Ultem is also lightweight and durable, but where it seems to have a flaw is they are almost too flexible and can be bent instead of coming back to form. This along with a higher price point did not make them the ideal candidate for our readers.
There are other materials used such as Titanium, Flexon, and Steel, but these materials are not a direct comparison to TR90 and have more in common with the Aluminum we use for the Visualites X. Check back soon as we will look at these frame materials and our decision to go with Aluminum for our newest model of rimless reading glasses the Visualites X.
Working with TR90, the Optimal Material
Our TR90 frames are manufactured with less waste than our competitors and the material is compliant with the high FDA standards. When making our frames we use a process called injection molding which allows us to create a consistently high-quality product.
After doing our homework and creating initial prototypes with all the materials listed it became clear to us that the best material in terms of both performance and cost was clearly TR90. One of the things I love the most, as I wear my Visualites C blue light blocking computer reading glasses every day, is not just that the flexibility of the frames helps prevent me from breaking them, but the flexibility actually allows the glasses to conform to my face, making them extremely comfortable. So again, TR90 is lightweight, hypoallergenic, heat resistant, flexible and comfortable. What else could you want from a pair of reading glasses? The other main component of Visualites are our quality optical lenses which are far superior to other cheaper alternatives. We really wanted the best frame material to go with this quality lens.
So, now you know why our glasses may cost a little more than some of the others you see as they are simply not made with the same lens and frame materials that provide the comfort, quality and durability of Visualites.
Matt is a blogger, musician, and digital marketing specialist. He is based in Nashville, TN.