Individualised Eyewear How automation and digitalisation enables the industrialisation of additive manufacturing

From MA Alexander Stark

Simulation and digital twins developed by Siemens enable the start-up You Mawo in offering bespoke eyeglass frames in such a way that they are accessible, affordable, and sustainable for a broad market. The customisation process considers parameters such as design, a perfect fit for the person wearing the glasses and colour.

Related Vendors

Siemens enables the start-up You Mawo in offering bespoke eyeglass frames in such a way that they are accessible, affordable, and sustainable for a broad market.
Siemens enables the start-up You Mawo in offering bespoke eyeglass frames in such a way that they are accessible, affordable, and sustainable for a broad market.
(Source: Siemens)

The market for individualised eyewear is steadily growing. Additively manufactured eyewear fits perfectly and requires significantly less material. Compared to conventionally produced eyewear, manufacturers such as You Mawo can reduce the carbon footprint by up to 58 percent through additive manufacturing, the company's founder Daniel Szabo states. He goes on to say, “Until now, however, reproduceable production in very large quantities has been the tricky part.” The production of 3D printed eyeglass frames is the goal of Additive Scale, which was founded specifically for this purpose. Its approach consists of a priority solution chain of 3D printing systems, surface, and colouring finishing, as well as software, to produce customised eyeglass frames with reproduceable part properties. Siemens is supporting Additive Scale's project with its portfolio of automation and digitalisation solutions as well as financing solutions.

Additive Scale has been producing individualised eyeglass frames for You Mawo since May 2021 with an annual capacity of approximately 50,000 frames and is already planning to double capacity for the coming year. “The decisive factor for high productivity with the greatest possible flexibility is the automated and digital integration of coordinated manufacturing steps of all participants in the production process. This includes automated processing of the entire workflow and begins with the arrival of the order, continues through design and on to printing, post-processing and final delivery,” explains Dr. Karsten Heuser, Vice President Additive Manufacturing at Siemens Digital Industries.

He continues, “Here we can learn a lot from our manufacturing expertise in our own production facilities and use this know-how to enable end-to-end automation and digitalization for our partners. This applies to the production of series parts as well as to highly flexible lot-size-1 manufacturing of individualized products or spare parts.”

Simulation with the digital twin

In the first step, the factory planning experts from Siemens Advanta worked with Additive Scale to create a digital twin of the production that contains all process steps and machines. This allows different approaches to material flow and production layouts to be simulated — for example, the transport of parts from one machine to the next via AGVs, conveyor belts or robots. It also allows the profitability of production to be tested without taking risks. The eyeglass frames are printed using selective laser sintering on EOS machines. For surface finishing and coloring, the specialist Dye Mansion is on board. “You Mawo were one of our first customers. Together, we managed to raise the entire post-processing for eyewear to a level that meets the highest demands in terms of quality and reproduceability. With our strategic partners EOS and Siemens, we are now incorporating all of this into a factory that has the potential to change the entire eyewear industry. A lighthouse project for the entire 3D printing industry that was only made possible by strong partnerships,” says Felix Ewald, CEO and Co-Founder of Dye Mansion. EOS, Dye Mansion and Siemens have already collaborated in the past on innovative projects in the field of automation and digitalization of production facilities, with the aim of accelerating the industrialization of additive manufacturing.

Individualised financing concept

The industrial 3D printing machines for Additive Scale are financed by Siemens Financial Services (SFS), Siemens’ financing arm. The goal was to lower the immediate investment hurdle and enable scaling as production needs grow. “Integrating financing into an ecosystem approach like this, where all the right partners come together from the start, has allowed us to create a smart leasing solution at a start-up’s pace. Moreover, it offers enormous potential to adapt as market demands evolve,” says Matthias Grossmann, CEO Commercial Finance at Siemens Financial Services. Depending on the specific requirements, SFS offers a range of models for financing the assets, from standard leasing to full or partial pay-per-use or pay-for-outcomes models.

Scaling scenarios can be simulated and validated

As a next step, Additive Scale, with support from Siemens Digital Industries and Siemens Advanta, plans to scale up production, with a mid-term goal of producing one million or more individualised eyeglass frames per year. “Our long-term goal is to have fully automated and digitalised small production sites around the world that allow us to produce locally and respond quickly to customer requests. This reduces shipping costs and time, and leaves a significantly lower carbon footprint,” explains Sebastian Zenetti, CEO of Additive Scale. Using the Factory Planning Toolbox developed specifically for additive manufacturing, scalable production concepts can be simulated and validated. In the simulation, product and process variants are compared in terms of production costs and yield. Scaling scenarios are then evaluated based on order scenarios and the degree of automation. Particularly important will be the efficient handling of the order-to-delivery process, so that every customer can also receive their customized glasses within a period of around 14 days. In addition to the connectivity of the machines to each other and to the cloud, scenarios of the ordering process of participating opticians, for example via the Additive Manufacturing Network, and the traceability of the individualised frames for the end customer will also be considered here. For this purpose, Siemens is testing solutions for the respective next scaling level in its own Additive Manufacturing Experience Center in a dedicated production cell, such as the connection to an industrial cloud and the creation of dashboards with Mendix for the optimization of Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE).