SABIC’s Ultem resin replaces metal in eyewear frames

SABIC’s Ultem resin replaces…
SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business’ world-class expertise and technology were further evidenced today with the company’s announcement that Intermestic Inc., a specialty retailer of eyewear and accessories, has chosen 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.

“We are delighted with the capabilities of SABIC’s Ultem resin, which represents a new chapter in the evolution of eyewear,” said Mr.Takeshi Ueno, president, Zoff. “This one material provides a complete solution for creating superior frames – from extremely light weight for wearability, to exceptional elasticity that allows you to bend the earpieces freely. The high quality and performance of this SABIC technology continues to help us achieve competitive advantages in our market space.”

“Our Ultem resin has proven its quality and performance in a range of extremely demanding applications in key markets such as aerospace and healthcare, and its versatility gives this material great potential to add value in consumer goods,” said Takeshi Maruyama, Japan country manager, Innovative Plastics. “At SABIC, we take the time to understand the diverse industries where our customers compete, whether it’s aerospace or eyewear, and create customer-centric solutions to meet the standards of those segments. The Zoff SMART frames help validate Ultem resin’s continued success in replacing traditional materials to reduce weight and improve design freedom. We believe that by taking the lead in using Ultem resin, Intermestic will be in a stronger position to capture a larger share of the rapidly growing eyeglass market in Japan.”

The Japanese eyewear sector is expected to grow from 450 billion Japanese Yen (JPY) (USD$ 5.54 billion) in 2011 to 1 trillion JPY (USD$ 12.32 billion) 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 percent 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.

“SABIC is very proactive in its approach to understanding changing customer needs and acts quickly and effectively to help our customers succeed,” added Maruyama. “Our successful collaboration with Intermestic to help develop the Zoff SMART eyeglasses is a clear example of how we do this.”

Read more: Plastics 601