At a time when sport frames are predominantly manufactured in Asia, one company is bucking the trend, manufacturing high quality wraps in the United Kingdom. mivision spoke to Ken Smith, the creative mind and business brain behind the Cubik project, about his dream to revolutionise Rx sports eyewear to support the independents and supply the masses.
What has been your greatest achievement as a designer of eyewear?
Next month (June) we will launch Cubik RXW – an affordable sports wrap frame with a great quality wrap freeform lens that offers excellent optical quality and safety.
This project has been three years in the making, and the inspiration behind it (for me personally as an Englishman) was to have something manufactured entirely in the United Kingdom.
Isn’t manufacturing in the United Kingdom financially prohibitive?
People think manufacturing in the UK is prohibitive but once you take the cost of labour out of the equation, it’s no more expensive than manufacturing in Asia. We use a highly automated injection moulding process so the need for labour is small. The greatest expense is in the tooling that’s needed to create a bespoke product with no polishing, painting or other secondary process required. The single cavity tool that makes only one piece per injection was £25,000 because the ejected part is the finished part.
One of the advantages of manufacturing in the UK is that we can do tiny production runs and make small changes. We can produce a run of 300 corporate glasses, or run in a bespoke colour – we can make translucent frames, frames in fluorescent colours, solids, matt colours – all within a nine day lead time.
What challenges did you face when designing the wrap frame?
Designing a generic wrap frame to fit most faces has been the greatest challenge. The design process involved making five different prototypes until the finished shape worked. We wanted our frame to fit all face sizes: men and women; small and big faces and many other unique facial features. The Cubik RXW, we believe, fits comfortably on a higher percentage of clients than any other sport wrap. The choice of an extremely flexible material for the frame, together with other design features, has
also helped us finesse the fit.
Why did you choose to focus on a wrap frame?
The natural vision you get from a wrap lens with a good design is much better than the vision you get from a standard frame – you get clear, panoramic vision at every single degree of angle. The problem is, until recently, wrap frames with prescription lenses were very expensive – the technology just wasn’t there to create a quality freeform lens for a wrap frame at an affordable price – and because of that, there certainly weren’t people in the UK who were willing to invest in our process. But that’s all changed. Improvements in lens technology over the past two years has meant that quality freeform lenses are now available at a cost that is conducive to the price point at which we want to sell our wrap frames.
What other innovative features did you introduce to the Cubik RXW?
We chose a plastic material from Switzerland that is very flexible but won’t break or crack, and more importantly, facilitates our patented method for ‘snapping’ the frame together. This enables us to offer a two year warranty. The material is also anti-sweat and anti-UV which is great for the Australian lifestyle.
We secured the patent for the mechanism of the frame in February 2013 – there are no screws or moving parts and when the temple clicks into place against the frame, the pressure created holds the lens tight. This mechanism enhances safety – if you fall off your bike, the frame will not snap, so there won’t be any sharp pieces – it will simply break open. The lenses can be fitted by an optical dispenser and interchanged by the wearer.
In conjunction with our Australian distributor, JuzVision, we’ve developed a simple online wholesale model that enables us to contain our costs and pass these savings on to optometrists. This is how we help independents compete – we’re enabling them to offer high quality at the right affordable price.
The Cubik RXW can be viewed and ordered at www.juzvision.com.