The main materials that make up a frame.

In the optical industry, there are three main families of materials used to make frames: organic or plastic materials, “natural” materials, and metals.

1. Organic materials or "plastics".

  • Cellulose acetate: this is the most commonly used
  • Polyamide
  • Polycarbonate
  • Elastomers, and rubber (especially for areas in contact with the skin) are also used
  • Various more exotic polymers can also be used (epoxy resin, polyurethane, etc.).


Composites (carbon, Kevlar, epoxy resin) are not widely used due to their particular implementation and the difficulty of obtaining small aesthetic parts.

2. Natural materials

  • Wood: Several types of exotic woods are used, and the wooden parts are usually varnished to maintain the aesthetic appearance of the material
  • Horn
  • Turtle shell are also used, as well as other animal products like shark and crocodile skin

3. Metals

  • Stainless steel
  • Titanium and its alloys
  • Aluminum alloys
  • Copper/nickel alloys such as nickel silver and Monel
  • Bronze
  • Other alloys such as magnesium alloys and shape memory alloys like titanium-nickel or copper-aluminum-beryllium are sometimes used

Surface treatments applied to a frame

There are different types of surface treatments. However, two large families are distinguished: galvanic and organic treatments.

1. The galvanic treatments

Solutions containing noble metals (such as gold, palladium) or more common ones (such as chrome, ruthenium, bronze, nickel) lead to an electrolytic deposition of a thin layer of these metals on the metal frame.

2. Organic treatments

Paints, epoxy or polyurethane varnishes, transparent or opaque, colorless or tinted, require baking after being deposited by spray onto the metal or plastic frame

Less commonly, other techniques can be used:

  • Vacuum PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) deposition of a ceramic coating,
  • Metallization of plastic materials,
  • Sublimation (transfer of inks to a layer of varnish previously deposited on the frame).

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