Let’s cite an example and take this ahead, shall we? Say, you are looking for a new pair of sunglasses (or eyeglasses) and you hit search saying “sunglasses for men,” or “sunglasses for women,” and a thousand different frames pop up. Also, a material called Acetate is mentioned in most of these. So, what is this Acetate, and what is its significance in eyewear? As the saying goes, “Most frames are made of Acetate. But all acetate eyeglasses are not created equal.” And here’s what you should know before buying them.
What is Acetate?
Simply put, Acetate is one of the earliest synthetic fibers ever made (like Nylon or Polyester). It’s is crafted out of a (bio) polymer derived out of wood pulp and natural cotton fibers. They were first used for framing spectacles in the late 1940’s due to problems with previously used plastics. Fun fact: the higher the quality of Acetate, the better the gloss and transparency. Maybe, this is why wearers often describe the material as more ‘natural feeling’ over others.
Acetate is preferred for eyewear over plastic for these reasons
- They are lightweight and much stronger than plastic.
- They are environment-friendly and made from renewable materials.
- It’s a hypoallergenic (meaning: it’s doesn’t give you allergies)
- It comes in all colours (who doesn’t like options, right?)
- Can be made transparent
- Higher versions are fit adjustable
This is how Acetate frames are made
For what it’s worth knowing, Acetate is made out of cotton and other such plant-based materials. (interesting, isn’t it?). Before it’s used in your glasses, this is what the fiber goes through:
Acetate Sheets: Fresh Acetate combinations are created by mixing organic colours with acetone and the raw Acetate plant-based material. Which is then mixed by rollers into thin flat sheets of Acetate to achieve the special colour effect.
Cutting and Forming: The frames are cut to shape using computer controlled mills according to the design input by technicians.
Polishing: The frame components are placed in barrels filled with wood chips and small stones. The components are then tumbled together for hours on end. After which, each frame is buffed by hand by an experienced craftsman to a highly polished lustre. After this step, they are assembled into the final product.
The level of experience of the craftsperson of each step above has a direct impact on the finish quality of a frame. Investing in quality craftsmanship results in a well-made frame.
Handmade Acetate Eyewear Frames
Good quality Acetate all boils down to how the raw materials are produced, processed and crafted. It also trickles down to the craftsmen. For instance, Italy has one of the best Acetate craftsmen in the world, so does Japan. China is getting there too.
Coloured Acetate Frames
A great quality of Colored Acetate Frames is the fact that they retain its vibrant colour over time due to its hue being embedded in the material. This method also prevents any colour peeling. Unique ageing stabilisers in Acetate prevent fading or discolouration.
What are your thoughts about Acetate? Let us know in the comments below.