AlgaeAboard: Making Pt 2

Making the Boat Sunglasses is the most challenging task. It is also when I learnt more about the material. Breaking from the archetypal form of a spectacle frame, the common emphasis of the frame, which is at the brows, is inverted, reflecting the arc of the boat tip. The tips of the arcs are where the ear handles connect. As the connection point is below the ear level, the ear handles borrowed the curvaceous form of the canal boat tiller. Finally, it is a no-brainer for the lenses to be round like the viewing portals.

Boat Sunglasses

The first cardboard prototype has full rims, which means the lenses are to clip in and take out easily, like any commercial injection-moulded plastic sunglasses frame. To manage the material easier, the thickness of the frame is increased. That said, it will be relatively harder to bend for lens fixation. The second prototype is revised to only half rims, which allows the lens to be slotted in to a groove. The design carries a few intricate detail; it would be time consuming to make one by hand for silicone moulding, thus 3dprint is the best option forward.





From the slipper making, I know that the material warps and bends upward like a boat; flipping to expose the other surface throughout the drying process manages to control the degree of warpping. With that hindsight, I was expecting that I can take advantage of the natural responses of the material to form the bend of the sunglasses frame. However, I was too ignorant to realise the material is not as fluid as I wish it to be. The hinge area is especially the part where the material does not flow into. I kept trying with various methods, even trying to make the solution more runny, but ended up with a lot of wasted material. And because they are fairly thin, they warped like crazy too. I paused to reconsider the process. On one hand, I need the prominent profile of the design; on the other, the material needs to be strong. Using what I have already have on hand, I thought coating the 3d-printed frame with the material would perhaps be something worth trying.




Boat Sunglasses

Despite the coated 3d-printed frame looks amazing, I knew something is not right. After consulting my tutor, it is affirmed that the solution is seemingly dishonest. Dishonest to the material. It will be a better outcome if the frame is made fully of algae bioplastic. My tutor suggested to eliminate the need for hinge or rethink how hinges can be done, just to keep everything flat to be cut out from a flat sheet. An idea from him was pince-nez, a pair of glasses that pinches at the bridge of the nose, popular in the 19th century. This literally threw me back to the drawing board and had me cracking my head for days.

It is when you stopped thinking about it, the answer emerged. Since the material is not capable to give small details, the hinge shall use a different material – wire, for its malleability and strength. The frame and handles shall be laser-cut from a flat sheet. So, I laser-cut them out of a failed slipper. The edges were badly burnt. The heat from the laser has soften the material that caused slight warping. The warp is conveniently used to its advantage for being ergonomic to the face.





To view the final design, head over to


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