I am often asked “why is this plastic frame more expensive than frames for other companies?” The answer lies in the type of plastic used by high-end spectacle manufacturers, and how those companies use that material.
The type of plastic used in better-quality frames is called zylonite (zyl), which is also known as Cellulose Acetate. The best quality zyl available comes from the Italian company Mazzuchelli
. Mazzuchelli zyl has been in the plastic industry since 1849. Their zyl originates from cotton fibers or flakes and wood flakes. The best materials begin with 100% cotton.
Cellulose Acetates are tough with a deep gloss and high transparency. They possess a “feel” which is different from other plastics which is often described as more “natural”. Cellulose Acetate is combined with plasticizers to create a material which can be heat softened, molded and easily adjusted without cracking or becoming brittle. Larger manufacturers often use these qualities to injection-mold their frames.
Smaller, exclusive companies such as Face a Face
work with Mazzuchelli to create exclusive colorations and pattern combinations. Once those colors are created, only the company which designed them will be able to use them. They then use a more traditional method to create each frame by hand. The frames are then polished in tumblers for up to two weeks. Creating each frame one-at-a-time by hand using materials unique to the individual manufacturer gives an end product which is much more exclusive, beautiful, and therefore more expensive!
Few plastics have such a ling pedigree as Cellulose Acetate, and being made entirely from renewable resources it certainly has a long way to run. You can see a video of Mazzuchelli
Zyl being produced here
Until next time!