NEUBAU Straight Out Of The 3D Printer
Austrian label NEUBAU has been on a sustainability journey for quite some time. Now the brand is taking an innovative leap into a greener future by 3D-printing eyewear frames from 100 percent bio-based material. Based on castor oil as the main ingredient, NEUBAU has created two new collections. Each collection follows its own direction while both draw on prominent personalities past and present in their themes and model names. For the full update on the new process and the models in these new, green collections we spoke to NEUBAU’s Global Brand Director Daniel Liktor.
Hello Daniel, your brand has previously launched several frames with 3D-applications. What exactly is the novelty behind the new natural3D Collection?
We’re dealing with an entirely new raw material that is 100 percent bio-based: the oil of the castor plant. During the manufacturing of our naturalPX Collection, produced in a spray cast process,we have already gathered some positive experiences with castor oil. Another technical standout feature lies in the new, adjustable temples equipped with a titanium needle. This feature is still a rarity in the 3D-segment.
Speaking of rarity, did you encounter any unsurmountable challenges in the production chain, or was it a rather smooth process?
We definitely faced some challenges! Since we are developing everything ourselves and choose to manufacture right here in the town of Linz, we had to surmount considerable obstacles. Integrating the needle into the temples was the biggest challenge, mainly due to various pre-existing solutions that had already been patented. But it was fantastic to see how our developers and designers took on this task and arrived at excellent solutions. And in order to process the new, bio-based material we also had to invest in another 3D-printer.
You already mentioned using the castor plant for your new models. A quickly regenerating resource, but also rather poisonous, right?
You should definitely avoid direct contact with the seeds, but the plant itself is not that toxic. The harmful ricin in the seeds is non-liposoluble and is discarded with the residue after pressing, so it’s not contained in the oil that we use as the basis for our naturalPX line. By the way, castor oil is also used frequently in medical applications and cosmetics.
When it comes to eyewear manufacturing, what exactly are the advantages offered by the castor oil plant?
For us the most striking argument was that it cuts down on the use of petroleum in our raw materials. The predecessor, our naturalPX Collection, already achieved a 65-percent share of renewable resources. But in the natural3D Collection, we’ve gone all the way to 100 percent. And mind you, without any functional, qualitative, or production-related disadvantages compared to entirely petroleum-based raw materials.
From what we understand, the entire production process itself also reduces the use of raw materials, correct?
Absolutely. The 3D-printing process basically generates no waste products, since it only consumes the amount of powder needed to create the frame. Along those lines, the spray cast process already saved us a great amount of resources compared to the manufacturing of acetate frames!
Sustainability has been a major brand asset for you. And with a 100-percent bio-based material you’re also right on-trend with today’s consumers, right?
We expect to be able to position ourselves even more strongly as a relevant, sustainable lifestyle brand by launching this collection. Especially in the eyewear business, of course. It’s really undeniable that sustainability has gained in relevance and popularity across the world by now, and we highly welcome this movement.
Speaking of a movement, this time the frames are not named after members of your team but famous environmental activists. Who came up with this idea?
There is definitely no lack of wonderful inspirations in history and our present day. We tend to pay tribute to them her and there by christening our frames with the first names of personalities that have a particularly strong influence on us.
What are some namesakes we can look forward to in the newest collections?
We’ll wait until the official market launch in early 2020, but let’s just say that ‘Greta’ for instance is rather of the times, right? (laughs)
What are the parameters for determining the colors that ‘Greta’ would wear?
Every single model is the result of a specific design development process, in which color design plays a pivotal role. We consider trends and themes of the upcoming season, which we try to balance within the collection. The »Greta« is a women’s style within the 3D-collection and therefore includes feminine and unisex trends in the final decision on colorways.
In the special Côte du Soleil edition due out in April you’re also banking fully on natural 3D. Is that the now modus operandi at NEUBAU?
No, we will continue to release models crafted from stainless steel and naturalPX. Especially considering that the options in terms of color palettes are still rather limited in 3D-printing. So we still need other processes to let our creativity run wild.
There is definitely no lack of creativity in the model names of the Côte du Soleil edition. It seems like you’ve been inspired by Romy Schneider, Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet and the charms of the 1960s. Why this decade in particular?
It’s definitely a mixture between our personal preference for this era and the fact that quintessential designs from this period always work well in sunglasses designs. We are interpreting eyewear designs from the Sixties, which tend to be rather bold compared to the delicate trend in the current eyewear landscape. So we’re creating large and voluminous frames, which still happen to be really light and comfortable, also thanks to the 3D-printing process.
As the final question, which of the current models would you recommend to your best friend?
Right now, he’s wearing the »Dani« from the naturalPX Collection. Our 3D-collection also includes a beautiful panto style, which will surely also look flattering on his face.
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