Tough, lightweight resin replaces metal in eyewear frames

Intermestic Inc., a specialty retailer of eyewear and accessories, has chosen SABIC IP’s tough, lightweight Ultem* polyetherimide (PEI) resin for the frames of its new line of Zoff SMART eyeglasses. The tailored, aerospace-grade Ultem resin material solution helps meet Japanese consumer demands for fresh, new eyewear styles with exceptional long-term performance and feather-light comfort; by allowing Intermestic to eliminate titanium and aluminum from the material selection process. The Ultem resin also provides exceptional flexibility, flame retardance, and resistance to chemicals, heat and ultraviolet (UV) light, as well as greatly expanded design freedom, which enabled Intermestic to create stylish, eye-catching frames for sophisticated consumer appeal. The success of the new Zoff SMART eyeglass line showcases how SABIC is continuously improving technology, applications and solutions to help its customers succeed. The Japanese eyewear sector is expected to grow from 450 bln Japanese Yen (JPY) (US$ 5.54 bln) in 2011 to 1 trillion JPY (US$ 12.32 bln) in 2015. Ultem resin delivers a broad range of desirable performance properties for eyeglass frames. The material offers elasticity coupled with resistance to deformation, allowing the frame to be bent easily yet returned to its original shape. Zoff SMART frames made with Ultem resin meet the Japan Standard Association JIS B 7285 standard, whose testing includes 20,000 bending repetitions (opening and closing the frame). The SABIC resin’s dimensional stability ensures that the lenses are retained in the frame, while heat deflection at high temperatures protects the frames even when left on a car dashboard in hot sun. In addition to its intrinsic light weight of up to 50% vs. metal, Ultem resin is suitable for precision thin-wall molding down to 1.2 mm, cutting weight even more. The weight of the Zoff SMART frame is 9.4 g without the lens, which compares very favorably to metal frames typically weighing around 20 g. The material can be custom colored to provide a wide range of aesthetic effects. Other potential eyewear applications for Ultem resin include entertainment eyewear (such as 3D glasses) and safety glasses.
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