3D printing is now part of your style


CATEGORY: Fashion BRAND: 3D Incubator

Liq Eyewear joined the 3D Incubator in 2019 to develop 3D-printed glasses and accessories. The Liq Eyewear range of sunglasses obtained the Bronze Delta ADI FAD recognition for industrial design in 2020.


The arrival of 3D printing in the industrial sector as a prototyping and production tool is nothing new, of course and, in fact, it is difficult to distinguish 3D printed products from others when shopping. Liq Eyewear is one of the companies leading the way in this change of reality. Their 3D-printed sunglasses are not only sold in various points throughout the country, but have also been recognised with different awards for their design and innovation.


The company is directed by Josep Mateo Muñoz, an industrial designer and creative director at Creax Design, an industrial design and innovation studio in Terrassa, Barcelona. Liq Eyewear started as an internal project in this studio.


“We thought it would be a good idea to experiment with a collection of our own brand, taking advantage of our experience in designing glasses for other brands and the 3D printing facilities to manufacture a small series. It also helped us see things from the point of view of our customers, as we faced the same difficulties in launching a product on the market (naming, management, packaging, POS, etc),” explained Josep. Thus, Creax Design launched its first 5 sunglasses models under the Liq Eyewear brand in 2018.



The name comes from Liq (for liquid), and how water is transformed and is capable of transforming the environment, just as 3D printing is capable of producing the most unlikely shapes.



Why glasses?

As the creative director of Liq Eyewear explains, they have always had an interest in design sunglasses and have gained experience during this time: “We know the product very well, but it is also a special product, a cross between a trendy and a technical product, and has a foot in each camp.” For Josep Muñoz, there is a kind of ‘mutual symbiosis’ between glasses and 3D printing: “Glasses provide that human touch that helps bring technology closer to people, being a product you can wear and goes with you everywhere; while 3D printing provides that functionality and technology that we often miss in many fashion brands.”


Why 3D printing?



There are several advantages of 3D-printing glasses:

  • No stock-no moulds - the most obvious: Typical substantial investments that slow down many projects are eliminated at a stroke. Being able to do small series without these limitations means small studios can experiment with products and ideas and adapt on the go.
  • Constant improvement of the glasses: Every time we come across a problem that needs changing, the 3D model can be quickly modified and new, updated glasses printed in the next print run - similar to what is done in software with updates. In conventional manufacturing, it is much more difficult to do something like that.
  • Ecology and sustainability: We manufacture only what is sold, with no stock. There is no waste material as happens with acetate glasses, and spare parts or loose pieces can be printed, even if the model is no longer sold; thus lengthening the life cycle. Liq Eyewear is much more ecologically sustainable than a conventional eyewear brand. The company was recognized in 2019 as a finalist for the 2019 Ecodisseny Awards.
  • Customisation: Different sizes, limited series and even unique models can be made on request, as has happened before. The possibilities in this regard are limitless.
  • Design: At Liq Eyewear, we are designers, so 3D printing lets us express ourselves without limits. With 3D printing, the limiting factor is 3D modelling: if it can be modelled, it can be made.


Why the 3D Incubator?

Liq Eyewear was one of the first projects selected to promote Europe's first high-tech 3D printing business incubator, the 3D Incubator. It entered the same year as it was founded, 2019, and since then the technological services offered by the project have been outstanding: mainly the testing of materials and finishes; as Josep Mateo Muñoz explained “it would be impossible to do something similar with a conventional supplier.” Many of the current colours and finishes in the Liq Eyewear line of sunglasses have come from work done in the 3D Incubator.

After it joined the 3D Incubator, Liq Eyewear launched 8 adjustable models to add to the initial sun range and reached an agreement with a distributor to sell its models in opticians throughout Spain. In 2020, it won the Bronze Delta ADI FAD award in the industrial design category and is currently working on launching new models that mix 3D printing with metal and is about to sign a distribution agreement in Germany.



“In the medium term, we want to promote, firstly, online sales with specific sun models and related accessories (3D Printed Accessories), such as cases, straps, etc. and, secondly, continue to grow in independent optics,” explains Liq Eyewear’s creative director.



Commitment to the latest trends in post processing

His time at the 3D Incubator also let him test and apply the latest trends in post-processing techniques and surface treatments for his new line of sunglasses; for example, engraving textures using a laser cutter and a “graffiti” effect finish for a limited series on sale soon.



About the 3D Incubator

Since its inauguration in 2019, the 3D Incubator has promoted 86 projects; thus, it is on course to exceed its expectation of helping 100 initiatives within a period of 5 years. During these first 3 years, the incubator has received more than 650 applications from start-ups and entrepreneurs and has contributed to creating quality employment. The initiative is promoted by the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona (CZFB) and Leitat, which has the support of funding from the ERDF through the Incyde Foundation of the Spanish Chambers of Commerce. Thanks to the growing involvement of companies with the new economy and new technologies, the 3D Incubator has managed to establish itself as a pioneering project that is a meeting point for companies that want to explore and develop production through 3D printing.


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