YouJung, could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing in the first place?
I was born and raised half of my life in Seoul, Korea. Through my parent’s support, I had an amazing opportunity to study abroad. As a result, at the age of 15, my journey as an international student began with my first education at Walnut Hill Arts High School in Natick, Massachusetts for 4 years. I continued to study at SVA in New York and graduated in 2015 with BFA degree in Graphic Design. For the 2.5 years, I was a lead designer at Good vs Evil which was a boutique advertising and design studio helping non-profit organizations brand and market themselves and focused on creating do-good initiatives for for-profit companies. Afterward, my interest and ambition in 3D design lead me to become one of only 200 eyewear designers in the United States.
Currently while designing eyewear, a majority of designers including myself are using software, such as Illustrator, Photoshop, and Indesign. But now since the technology has continued to develop and more 3D printing has been introduced to the industry, my team started learning Rhinoceros, a 3D design, modeling, and surfacing program. Using a 3D design program allows us to prepare the design files to be 3D print-friendly. As we introduce more 3D printing to our design process, we can cut down the lead time of development by 1-2months. Also, creating 3D prototypes mock-ups will help our team make accurate & more elaborate presentations to the clients.
What was your very first experience with 3D Printing?
My first experience in 3D printing was when I was invited to Womb 3D printing studio at Green-point. I found out that 3D printing could give us a shorter proto sample time not only in acetate but also in metal as well. This opened our doors to be more creativity with our design ideas and keep our prototyping lead times short as well. Also, some of our manufactures started to send us the 3D printing first proto samples because they are also integrating 3D printing processes into their production cycle.
This was especially true when we were designing a collaboration design between Article One and Tracksmith. Everything was created and prototyped with the manufacturer in a 3D file format. The design was quite tricky as we were tasked to design special silicon rubber nose pads and rubber temple tip inserts. This was in order to design a completely new fashion trend by combining active wear functional details with classic lifestyle shapes and textures.
Another client, Genusee from Flint, Michigan, also first showed us 3D printed samples of their collection made out of recycled plastic. The incredible thing is that the plastic is from all the water bottles discarded onto the streets of Michigan as a result of the Flint Water Crisis in 2014. Now 4 years later, there is something like 1.4 million empty water bottles littering the city and has become a serious problem for the residents.
What are you mainly inspired by?
I am mostly inspired by vintage eyewear and jewelry which I usually research online and in various fashion & art school libraries. Fashion trends move like a repeating cycle. We see trends that go dormant for some time come back again and show themselves among us. This is where we, designers, come in. It’s very important to be aware and alert about what’s happening and what’s relevant in the art, fashion and crafts worlds and predict what’s next for future. Taking a reference from the past and giving a new context is a very exciting thing for me to do. When my team and I are researching for unique design details over another, we try our best to find one that hasn’t been present for a long time or hasn’t been explored on an eyewear piece. We mix & match the details we find fit with the most suitable frame & lens shape. When customers wear our frames, we would like them to fall in love with the frame and design details so they feel good about themselves and have the desire to wear them for a long period of time.
Why using 3D printing for those eyewear designs?
3D printing the first proto sample saves an incredible amount of time. We can wait sometimes a month for a factory to make a prototype sample in acetate. This is especially so if we are using a different material and experimenting with a new idea. This also speeds up the approval process with the client on finalizing the front and temple shapes for production.
3D printing allows us to design in more complicated shapes and be creative. For example, one of our manufactures showed us a design where they used 3D printer to create a woven pattern as a design detail. This could never have been done using a classic process of using molds with acetate.
3D mockups also let us explore unique beveling or hard to understand shape details that a technical illustration can’t express very well. When clients or factories see the 3D prototype, it all makes sense very quickly.
Do you integrate other technologies as well?
Not yet, but our Selin Olmsted Eyewear Design studio has been reached out by technology-related eyewear companies that combine technology with wearable eyewear to enhance our daily lives. Our team’s goal is to look out and work closely with Wearable Technology start-ups so that their technology can be embedded into highly aesthetic eyewear designs for mass audience adoption.
To date, what would you say is your greatest achievement in Additive Manufacturing?
I think I am still in an exploring mode in the 3D printing industry and I don’t think I have any greatest achievement in 3D Manufacturing yet. However, Tracksmith – our very first injected plastic active sunglasses that was sold out in 3 weeks and was nominated 2018 Runner’s World Gear of the world. Now our other clients also want to explore in this area as well and we are developing a concept of activewear meets daily sunglasses. We also designed signature metal bridge and nose pads arms to one of our clients where they could be one continuous construction without any soldering points.
Do you have any (fun or not) story about the company or your career to share with us?
One time, one of our client wanted to design luxurious eyewear and we need to do some research and get inspiration. So as a team, we decided to visit one of the libraries that had a catalog of fashion magazines and brochures.
During my research about the library, I noticed that in order to have full excess we needed to register the date and specific time on their website. Afterward, we needed to get a confirmation from the library. It wasn’t like a public library where you would be able to walk right in. Before we got the acceptance letter from the library, there were some difficulties we went through:
1st e-mail: Received this e-mail reply from the library “Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate your appointment request because you did not supply enough information or details in your request. You may re-submit a more complete form, noting specific materials and topics that you need to consult.”
2nd after resubmitting the form my 2nd e-mail from the library: “Unfortunately we’re a popular resource and we’re pressed for space so we have limited the number of visitors from each company to two. It makes visitors a bit easier on our staff, and allows more companies research access.” At Selin Olmsted design studio during that time, we had 4 designers including myself.
3rd: “Friday” during summer was closed
4th: Finally when we got accepted, I had to reschedule the appointment because there has been an urgent collection that needed our attention.
When I first visited the Library with one of our junior designers, we were both surprised by the archive of Vogue magazines and also other fashion brands as well. During the research, I was not only getting inspiration for our collection but was wowed by the layout and graphic design of the magazines dated from the 1800s. The library was very well organized and was easy to navigate. Even though, I had some hardship during the reservation, visiting the library was an amazing experience. I believe some of the inspiration we got from the library has been used in the collection.
Have you run into any challenges from being a woman designer in 3D Printing?
No, I have not really run into any challenges from being a woman designer in 3D printing.
Anything exciting coming up you’d like us to know about?
Since the “Tracksmith” sunglasses was very successful in the market with the trend of creating activewear sunglasses to be more like daily sunglasses. We have designed more frames towards that concept and will be launched in 2020.
What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
- Makeup being printed in 3D printer
- 3D printer used in the medical field like printing organs
- The Nation of Artists used 3D printer to print arms or hands to children who got impact from the war in Sudan: “WORLD’S FIRST 3D-PRINTING PROSTHETICS LAB”
What do you consider game-changing technologies in Additive Manufacturing?
3D printing used in the medical field is one of the amazing thing for me who knows how many people could be saved by this technology.
When technology meets eyewear it seems like 3D printing comes in handy. I have seen some start up eyewear technologies using the 3D printer to print the shape and embed their hardware into it. Even though it’s a simple glasses or sun glasses I think to present their ideas is a great start.
The ability to use recycle materials (like water bottles) will help us keep the planet much cleaner.
What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you?
As a designer, I am fascinated by how 3D printing can be done ina short period of time and it can basically print anything from something small as screws and hinges to something large scale as well. I have also seen some brands designing their own screws and hinges using a 3D printer and assembled their eyewear collections.
Also, some startups integrated technologies into eyewear and used 3D printing to be one of their main material since Acetate has it’s limit.
3D printing in the eyewear industry will open more creative doors to designers to explore and shorten the first proto sample inspection time much faster.
What do you think of the 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?
3D printing is amazing and I can see everything going in that direction. However, the materials that can be used are still quite limited so I cant’ wait for that to be improved. One day, I think having a 3D printer in your house will be as common as having a sink.
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?
We need to highlight the benefits of using 3D printing in industries that women enjoy. Medical, artistic, scientific and sports, jewelry, architecture, fashion, music, chemistry are great places to start. We need to promote the success of these women as trailblazers who know how to take this emerging industry and do mind blowing things with it.
Favorite 3D tool (could be a software, machine, material…you name it)?
Rhino – Still in a learning stage
Favorite moment in your day job? When we receive our first proto sample to our office, it always feel like Christmas present to me.
What’s on your 3D Printing wishlist for the next 5 years? Hopefully, within the next 5 years, I would like to be master at Rhino program and we would get one 3D printer at our office and print our designs directly from it. This way we would be able to design not only the shape but maybe we would be able to go further and design unique hinges and screws as well.