How does Topology produce the World's Best-Fitting Glasses? (Part 3)

Science and Manufacturing Process
— by
Rob Varady

The reason you may have struggled to find eyewear that fits is that glasses, like most of the things you buy, are made in batches of thousands (or tens of thousands) of identical units. The reason companies do this is that it's historically the only way to control quality and costs at scale. Factories build custom fixtures and molds that only allow materials to form or be cut in a very specific method or pre-secified shape. As you reduce the number of parts on order, the unit costs go up. Now imagine producing one-offs, where every part of every frame is completely unique, and there's no room for scrap.

Enter Topology. We've completely re-designed the traditional eyewear manufacturing process so that we can produce truly unique units at scale by marrying automation with ultra-precision craftsmanship.

Precision Sculpting

As described in the last entry, our app generates a software program that then drives precision machinery. For our lightweight stainless steel frames, we use a laser that is able to precisely cut through steel that is 1/4" thick, so you can imagine how fast and smooth it is able cut frames that are only 0.5mm thick. For plastic frames, we use computer-controlled milling machines which can carve any possible 3D shape out of blocks of imported Italian cellulose acetate plastic. The artistry in this process is knowing which types of tooling to use within the machine to get a particular type of surface, and how exactly to balance the speed and precision of the cutting against the need to keep the material from overheating, melting, or warping during each stage of the sculpting. Literally years of trial and error went into devising our proprietary processes. And we've selected precision workhorses for our milling machines - they're the same machines that Apple uses to cut every aluminum product they sell (iPhones, Watches, MacBooks, etc).

Polish and Assembly

Once the glasses are cut, we're only part of the way through the journey. Each frame goes through a multi-stage polishing process for six straight days in order to soften edges, remove machine marks, and bring out the shine and luster of the Italian material. This polishing is also hand-finished, because there is no substitute to hand-buffing when it comes to achieving a final polish. Frames are then cleaned, cleaned again, and cleaned some more before they are assembled, lenses inserted, and numerous Quality Assurance checks are performed. The frames are compared against the original design drawings and against the virtual preview from our app. Three different people need to sign off on the glasses meeting our standards, including our Founder and CEO, Eric.

Building your glasses from scratch takes us a few weeks, but once you receive the final product, we think you'll feel it was well worth it. If you have further questions about how we design and make glasses, or how you can order your own perfect pair, don't hesitate to tap the chat icon to ask.