by Jamie Bartlett

Glasses made in the UK.

 

Have you ever asked yourself "how are glasses made?"

Sure, there's plenty of brands out there who can tell you about it, but there's very few who actually do it.

A sobering prospect considering the UK alone used to manufacture 5 million spectacle frames a year.

 



Lucy - co founder   |   In it’s prime, the UK optical industry was previously a network hive consisting of nearly a thousand factories.
What began as a sub-industry, emerged from the back-rooms of optical practices into something far more industrious. This post-war ingenuity led to the surge of optical manufacture. Rivets, screws, frame fronts, temples, frame chains and lenses were all made here in the UK and in high volume.
With that said, there now stands a sad truth in their dusty shadow.

The UK eyewear industry was once a thousand factories strong.

Now only a handful remain.

 

 

Banton Frameworks are of the few spectacle frame manufacturers operating in the UK.

We wanted to share how we make our glasses frames with you. so we've proudly listed 12 of the processes we use to make our spectacles and sunglasses frames.

From sheet to shop, this is how glasses frames are made.

 

 

Acetate Cutting

At Banton Frameworks, we believe the best place to start is with the best materials. That's why every month, we receive a delivery of the best acetate from the leading European supplier. The large acetate sheets can barely fit through our workshop doors, so in the Summer months, we cut them outside using our table saw. In winter, we still use our table saw but there's a lot of sweeping afterwards.

 

Cutting Acetate in the Banton Frameworks Workshop

 

 

 

Machining

The quiet subtlety of our frames, is loudly overcome by the noise of making them. Outside our workshop, you'll often hear the deafening buzz of our in-house CNC machine. Ear defenders definitely on, the frame fronts are precision cut from strips of thick acetate sections.

 

 

Machining Acetate in the Wroskhop



V cutting

Confidence and commitment; the required attributes to cut the lens grooves in our frames. This involves using a custom built table and cutting tool to cut a small 'V' in the inner periphery of the lens hole. With this freshly cut groove, the frame can be fitted with lenses later down the production line.

 

 

 Cutting Lens Grooves Into Frame Fronts



Counter Boring

Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. This fine process requires a hand held drill to create four small recesses in the acetate frame front. These four holes are for our small stainless steel rivets. If the recess is too deep, the frame is ruined. Too shallow, the rivets stick out and catch on your cardigan.

 

 Counter-boring Frame Fronts for Inserting Rivets



Riveting

Bridges. Planes. Buildings. Rivets hold together the strongest of structures. Our eyewear is no excpetion. Using a 1976 pneumatic riveting machine, our five barrel hinges are permanently fastened to our frames and temples. This process is precise, traditional and reliable. Just like our mission, these hinges are fixed, solid.

 

 Traditionally Rivetting Acetate Frame Fronts



Curving

Curves are always nice, especially in the right places. Our frame fronts are heated in an oven before we curve them using our self-built pneumatic press. At the correct temperature, your frame is swiftly removed from the oven and placed under our press. A pneumatic piston is deployed, descending to curve your frame using a precision machined mould below.

These curves make your frame comfortable to wear and allows lenses to fit more easily. To keep its shape, your frame is then plunged into cold water. If you've ever had a Finnish sauna, you'll know what we mean.

 

 Pneumatically Forming The Acetate Spectacle Frames



Tumbling

On your local beach, you'll often find smooth pebbles. Over time, natural abrasion between the sand and small stones all rub against one another to gradually become smoother. Tumbling our frames has the same result. No sand though.


We use this process to remove marks and scratches from the previous stage of machine cutting our frames. Mesmerising to watch, we put our frames inside large barrels with what is known as ‘tumbling media’. Very simply, the frames and media are thrown around inside the barrel via rotation to create friction and polishing.

 

 Tumble Polishing the Acetate Glasses Frames



Cleaning / Sand Blasting

During the tumbling process, polishing wax works it's way into the lens grooves and crevices. It's a necessary process but it can take a while to get your frame clean again. Listening to the latest audiobook or podcast, your frame is cleaned inside our blasting unit where it's lovingly brought back to life.

 

 

 Cleaning the frame fronts via blasting.



Temple Machining and Pad Printing

Machined from stainless steel, our uni-piece temples are a seamless, flowing form. Tapered towards each tip, a ball-end acts as a counterweight to the frame front. Made from a singular part, the steel is PVD coated in a robust colour finish.


After coating, the temples are professionally pad printed on the inside edge with our company information. This method yields very small, accurate lettering on the inside of our uni-piece temples.

 

 Temple Machining and Pad Printing



Assembly

Oh boy, this is the good bit. Your frame is ready for assembly. Small 1mm screws are used to join the frame front to the temples via our riveted hinges. We use five barrel hinges, which yield a high quality, stable hinge action. Opening and closing the hinges is a truly tactile experience, one you can savour when you unpack your new frame.

 

 

 Assembly line inside the Banton Frameworks Workshop.



Lens Fitting

Sunglasses or spectacles, lenses can now be fitted. Using an optical frame heater, the acetate is gently warmed to make it easier to fit the sun lenses into the lens grooves. Similar to a car windscreen, the lenses make the frame stiffer and stronger. Find the right prescription package for you.

 

 

 Fitting the Lenses to an Acetate Frame



Packing

Our luxurious packaging carton is constructed from die cut, high gsm paper from a specialist mill in the North East of Scotland. Inside and out, text and logo are foil blocked in a matt silver finish. A bespoke black silicone band envelops the container's exterior to seal the contents within. This band eradicates the need for any adhesives whilst yielding a tactile unboxing experience. 

Learn more about how we package your handmade glasses.

 

 

Packing each spectacle or sunglasses frame, ready for shipping.

 

 

Jamie Bartlett
Jamie Bartlett

Co-founder of Banton Frameworks.


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