Eyeglass frame materials: Metal, plastic and unusual​

Eyeglasses are essential for many people, whether for the correction of visual problems or for fashion purposes. The frame material of the glasses can greatly affect their durability, comfort, and appearance. There are three main categories of eyeglass frame materials: metal, plastic, and unusual.

Metal Frames

Metal frames are the most traditional type of frame material. They are commonly made from titanium, stainless steel, or a combination of the two. They are durable, lightweight, and often hypoallergenic, making them a popular choice for those with sensitive skin. They also have a sleek and stylish appearance that appeals to many people. However, they are often more expensive than other frame materials.

  1. Monel, a blend of various metals, is the most commonly utilized material for making eyeglass frames. Its ability to be shaped easily and resistance to corrosion are considered its major benefits.
  2. Titanium is a popular choice for eyeglass frames due to its strength, lightweight, and corrosion resistance. It is also hypoallergenic, making it a great option for individuals who have metal allergies, such as nickel. They come in a range of colors, providing plenty of choices for every style preference
  3. Beryllium is a cost-effective alternative to titanium and boasts similar properties, including being lightweight, strong, and flexible for easy adjustments by an optician. Additionally, it is highly resistant to corrosion, making it a suitable option for those who frequently spend time in saltwater environments. With a variety of colors available, beryllium frames can be a great choice for those looking for a durable and stylish eyeglass frame.
  4. Stainless steel is a popular choice for eyeglass frames due to its lightweight and strength. While not as light as titanium, stainless steel still offers a comfortable and durable option. Additionally, it has the added benefit of being corrosion-resistant, making it a great choice for people who are constantly exposed to the elements. The cost of stainless steel frames is often lower than other metal frames, making it an economical choice for those who want a reliable and long-lasting pair of glasses.
  5. Flexon, as the name implies, is a highly flexible material made from a titanium alloy. This allows it to retain its shape even after being bent or twisted. Flexon frames offer a combination of lightweight, corrosion resistance and hypoallergenicity.
  6. Aluminum in its pure form is malleable and can be easily shaped. However, by adding small amounts of alloys, it gains the strength of steel while retaining its lightweight properties. The ease of shaping aluminum opens up creative possibilities that are limited with other strong materials.

Plastic Frames

Plastic frames, on the other hand, offer a lightweight and comfortable option for those who find metal frames too heavy. They come in a wide range of colors and styles, making them a popular choice for those who want to make a fashion statement with their eyeglasses. Additionally, plastic frames are more affordable than metal frames, making them an attractive option for those on a budget.

  1. Zylonite: For those seeking a wide range of colors, zyl or zylonite (cellulose acetate) may be the ideal eyeglass frame material. Zyl is an affordable and versatile option that is very lightweight. Currently, laminated zyl frames with layered colors are in high demand. To make your eyewear blend into your visual field, opt for light colors on the inner sides. However, an all-black frame will be visible from both the interior and exterior sides.
  2. Cellulose Acetate Propionate: If you’re seeking a lightweight, hypoallergenic frame, consider cellulose acetate propionate. Made from a nylon-based plastic, it boasts more transparency and shine compared to other plastics. If weight is your top priority, propionate frames are definitely worth considering.
  3. Nylon: A type of plastic material, is an ideal choice for sports and performance frames. Made of tough and flexible materials like gliamides, grilamid, or trogamid, it is resistant to extreme temperatures and can be molded into popular wrap-around styles and unique shapes.

Unusual Frame Materials

Looking for a unique and stylish look? Be prepared to invest in eyeglass frames or design accents made from special materials. These can be found at high-end optical boutiques, but may come with a higher price tag.

  1. Sterling silver is not frequently used as the main material for eyewear frames as it is not durable or comfortable enough. However, it may be present as a small component in metal alloy frames, or used to add a decorative touch to plastic frames. Gold eyewear, usually in the form of gold plating, is available from some manufacturers. It can be added as an accent to plastic or metal frames.
  2. Handmade wooden, bone and buffalo horn frames are one-of-a-kind pieces that stand out for their unique beauty. Despite being stiffer, less adjustable and pricier than other frame materials, they are sought after for their aesthetics. Buffalo horn frames are particularly elegant and adjust to your body temperature for a truly exceptional wearing experience

Comparison between Metal, Plastic & Unusual Frame Materials

MaterialHypo-allergenicLight weightStrongFlexibleCorrosion ResistantVariety of Colors, Patterns, Textures*
Plastic Frames
Cellulose acetate & zyloniteRightRightRight
Cellulose propionateRightRightRightRight
Metal Frames
MonelRightWith Plating
Stainless SteelRightRightRightRight
Unusual Frame Materials
Wood, bone & buffalo hornRightNatural
Gold (10k) & Sterling SilverRightRightRight