Ordered: 17 August 2018
Expected delivery: 22 August 2018
How we make glasses
with robots, nylon and hard work
We believe in producing our glasses locally, where our business began. No-one had manufactured glasses at scale in Australia before we did – but that wasn’t going to stop us figuring out how!
For us, it makes sense to manufacture in western Sydney rather than outsourcing to a country with cheaper labour. We’re totally in control of the entire production process, in a space we lease from Astor Industries. This manufacturing company was once heavily involved in making car parts for Australia’s ever-shrinking auto industry. Great timing for both of us.
We‘ve always aimed to create high-quality glasses in a way that actually makes a positive net impact on our environment.
We realised, if we were going to turn the eyewear industry upside down with our new glasses system, we had a real opportunity – and responsibility – to take ownership of the whole process. Minimising the environmental impact of what we do. Really embracing the idea of ‘product stewardship’.
This is why we stay as close as possible to the process and production, prioritising the things we think matter.
Our factory is run by Elmar Kert, who has become an expert in (extrusion) injection moulding – which is quite a change from his degree in business and economics.
Here’s how we make our own glasses.
We start with nylon. We use either Grilamid TR-90 (a Swiss, ultra-durable, lightweight and recyclable nylon), or a recyclable material, like the beer keg lids shown here. Granulised wood, discarded fishing nets and waste from the production of bank notes are also turned into glasses.
We choose the materials we re-use very carefully, to make sure they are up to our quality standards and give us the desired structural stability in the final product. We can’t use just any old plastic – if we use the wrong sort, then glasses might shatter on impact.
Taking out the technical jargon, our durability standards are all about that unfortunate basketball to the face in the school yard. Imagine what would happen if a child got a ball to the face and their glasses shattered into their eye… We don’t EVER want that to happen to someone wearing Dresdens.
One we’ve cut up our recycled material into little pellets, we add in a tiny amount of dye. This is also why we can’t just produce one-off pairs of glassses in that special colour to match your new, special-occasion outfit. Sorry.
At Dresden we are all about colours, and we take them very seriously. So one of those master batch bags has enough pigment to create roughly 50,000 glasses. That’s a huge amount, of course, so before we commit to buying one of those bags, we use a powder called dry colour that we can buy in very small quantities – a perfect way for us to gauge the market.
The material we use has to be totally dry, so it goes into a special oven for 24 hours beforehand. If there’s any moisture at all, we end up with white moisture marks that contaminate the parts and lead to potential structural instabilities. So they look cool, but aren’t that strong.
This is the injection-moulding part. The plastic is pushed into a mould at a very high temperature and pressure. With our new moulds, it takes around 30 seconds to make the front-facing part of one glasses frame.
When they come off the assembly line, the glasses still have a plastic runner (a stick of plastic) from the moulding process. We cut this off manually and reuse it in another batch of glasses – because we’re all about reducing waste! We also carry out quality control for the frames at the same time.
What you can see here is the transition from a clear frame to a raspberry cordial frame. We sell these transition colours as “one-offs”. Most manufacturers would throw these away, but we think that’s wasteful – and customers really love these unique glasses.
The glasses end up in big bins like this before being sorted and shipped to stores.
Here’s Elmar checking out the colours. Fun fact: that little shot glass worth of royal purple pigment is enough to colour around 350 glasses!