Choosing Metal or Plastic Frames for Your Eye Glasses
History of eyeglasses frames
According to the sources, the first eyeglasses were made in 1286 by a lay person in Pisa, Italy. However, truly “framed" glasses began to appear only by the 17th century. Some of these glasses included Indian nose spectacles with an intricate carving of a pair of elephants in sandalwood. Other frame materials used included leather, brass, word and horn.
Today, eyeglass frames not only provide means to improve your vision but also serve as a fashion accessory that enhances your face value. With advancements in metallurgy and chemical sciences, these frames are now composed of a variety of materials such as plastic, metal and other materials.
Classification of eyeglass frames
Based on their chemical composition / material they are made of, eyeglass frames can be divided into the following main types or classes:
Metal is the most durable eyeglass frame material although metal frames tend to be thinner in the eye wire, the part of the frame that holds the lens in place. Three of the most frequently used metals include aluminum, flexon and titanium, with steel being equal to titanium but offering fewer color options.
Aluminum is not only the world's most abundant, but also the most widely used, nonferrous material. Commercial aluminum with small amounts of silicon and iron is hard and strong. High-end wearers might prefer wearing frames made of aluminum because of the look and feel. Aluminum comes in silver, brown, black and other colors.
- Men often prefer to wear aluminum frames because these are easy, conservative tones to wear and match with business suits.
- Aluminum frames are also lightweight and hypoallergenic.
- They are also corrosion, heat and abrasion proof.
- Although aluminum frames are very lightweight, it is difficult to join or weld to different designs limiting its adaptability.
Titanium and titanium alloy metals (titanium combined with nickel or copper) are used to make some of the most durable eyeglass frames. Titanium is a strong, light and corrosion-resistant silver-colored metal and its strength is comparable to stainless steel.
- Titanium frames are lightweight yet strong and corrosion resistant.
- Titanium frames offer more options than stainless steel with respect to the textures, patterns and colors.
- Titanium alloy frames cost less than frames that are 100 percent titanium.
- Eyeglass frames made from titanium are designed to be durable and last longer than other metal frames. Care should be taken when working with and repairing a titanium frame.
Flexon (Memory metal)
Flexon is a hypo-allergenic lightweight eyeglass frame metal that is strong and flexible. In some ways, it can be called as the sub type of the titanium frames as it features a titanium based alloy 10 times more flexible than steel and 25 percent lighter that conventional metals.
- It is corrosion-resistant, making it favorable for those who work, live or participate in sports in varying outdoor weather conditions.
- It has the ability to return to its original shape in spite of twisting, bending or crushing of the frame. For the same reason, flexon is also known as the "memory metal."
- If the frame gets really "tweeked", it can be difficult to get it back into the original shape.
- These frames can be very tempting for a child and hence, are not generally considered suitable for small children.
Stainless steel an alloy of steel and chromium and may also contain another element. Most stainless steels contain anywhere from 10 to 30 percent chromium, which imparts an excellent resistance to corrosion, abrasion and heat.
- Stainless steel frames are lightweight, low toxicity and are strong they are also nickel-free and thus hypoallergenic.
- They are corrosion free.
- They are relatively more costly than the other metal eyeglass frame materials.
Plastic frames usually conceal edge thickness best and more common than metal eyeglass frames. They can be of the following subtypes:
Zyl (zylonite, acetate or Cellulose acetate) is a material that is a very cost-effective and creative option for eyewear. It is a sturdy, lightweight, moldable material that can be made in a variety of colors and shapes. Zyl eyeglass frames are the most prominent of the plastic eyeglass frames in use today.
- It is extremely lightweight.
- It can be designed with single, multiple, or even layers of color.
This is usually a blended nylon which is lightweight and strong. Nylon is a synthetic fabric made from petroleum products.
- It can be coated with many different colors.
- It is also hypo-allergenic and flexible.
- It is suitable for sports because the nylon material can more successfully withstand the heat and cold and provide more flexibility than metal. Nylon is virtually unbreakable.
- They are light weight and give you more options than metal frames if you like having a wide variety of colors from which to choose.
- They tend to break more easily than metal frames.
- Their overall strength is inevitably diminished by sunlight exposure and the aging process.
- The nylon material difficult to adjust and can be manufactured only in darker colors.
Polycarbonate is a versatile, tough plastic. Frames made from polycarbonate are primarily associated with sport or safety glasses, as well as glasses for children.
- In combination with polycarbonate lenses, this material offers optimum impact resistance and eye protection.
- It is suitable for sportswear.
- Polycarbonate eyeglass frames can not be adjusted very well.
- They can be expensive for some.
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