Our manufacturing story is about taking control and flipping the way we think. Instead of following the mantra of supply and demand, we only make what’s needed. That’s why we choose to 3d-print our glasses. It’s the perfect way not to overproduce and not play the fast fashion game.
As a brand, we have always been sceptical of the term sustainable, for us, it’s about being conscious of the problem and working toward the best solutions.
Such as reducing waste, 3d-printing components, not over-producing, using recyclable materials, designing lightweight, designing to last, using less material, and, where possible, not using fossil fuel-based polymers but plant-based instead.
Every choice we make has a consequence and impact on our environment. We try to be conscious of this by making the best decisions possible and constantly reassessing our approach as we strive to do it better.
Arkema’s amino 11 chemistry comes from the castor bean, a sustainable, renewable crop that does not compete with food production, does not cause deforestation and is 100% plant-based. Simply put, PA 11 is better in every way;
the technical properties of the material are more robust, more flexible and incredibly durable. And the carbon footprint is drastically reduced by up to 47 per cent compared with its fossil fuel-based counterparts.
PA 11 is an extreme performance material that is sustainably sourced, recyclable and 100% biobased. It meets USP Class VI requirements for natural classification and uses intelligent supply chain management due to its short production cycle.
It outperforms crude oil-based polymers in every way, from its increased ductility, elasticity, fatigue resistance, and impact resistance. Even at low temperatures, it performs much better than its oil-based counterparts.
PA 11 offers a unique plant-based supply chain, from plant to polymer to product. The castor is grown in India under a sustainable farming initiative, Pragati, which is incidentally the Hindi word for progress. Turning the castor oil into a bio-based polymer happens in France at Arkema’s factory, and the product itself is 3d-printed in Belgium at Materialise.
The castor plant consumes the CO2 from the atmosphere and creates a biogenic carbon which only takes one year to grow and be collected. The energy used to produce the carbon in these plants is solar and not carbon-emitting like with the extraction of crude oil from the ground – this means we are not burning fossil fuel in the production of the raw material, which drastically reduces the carbon footprint of the product. The castor plant also removes carbon from the atmosphere and is far more sustainable than fossil-based geological carbon as it’s part of the natural carbon cycle.
For instance, every ton of plant-based carbon used instead of geological carbon is equivalent to removing one car from the road for a whole year. Also, plant-based polymers are 20% lighter than geological carbon, which reduces the energy used in the transportation and supply chain of the material and its products. And if those materials are used selectively with a manufacturing process such as 3d-printing, you can drastically reduce waste and harmful overproduction practices to reduce the carbon output further.
The Pragati project
Arkema, who produces the plant-based polymer PA 11, is a significant driver of sustainable castor farming and a founding member of the Pragati project, which has trained several thousand farmers on good agricultural practices since 2016.
Castor is a monsoon crop, taking advantage of India’s natural weather phenomenon. And as a result, eighty per cent of the world’s castor seed is produced in India, representing approximately 1.2 million tons. It is inherently drought resistant, doesn’t cause deforestation, is not in competition with the animal or human food chain, it’s insect resistant, recyclable, and can be harvested 4-6 months after planting.
The Pragati Project is generating a livelihood for many villages and stimulating the farming economy of North Gujarat, India. It helps to naturally reduce carbon emissions and offers a valuable alternative to fossil fuel-based polymers.
So far, castor is grown by approximately 700,000 farmers in India alone. The education program has seen 45 Villages participate in soil and water testing regimens and a yield increase of roughly 50% since the initiative began. And over 5,200 hectares of Castor farming are now under the sustainable practices and principles of the project.
Materialise is one of the most extensive and most complete 3d-printing facilities in the world. We have worked together since the beginning: from rapid prototyping to design revisions to manufacturing the final frames. They put great energy into research and development that integrates new sustainable materials within their manufacturing processes.
Arkema are material science experts, offering a portfolio of first-class technologies that address the ever-growing demand for new and sustainable materials. They manufacture the plant-based PA 11 that we use to 3d-print our frame components.
In 2021 Arkema acquired Agiplast (a world leader in sustainable plastic recycling) to be the first fully integrated high-performance polymer manufacturer offering bio-based and recycled materials – this means PA 11 is not only recyclable but made of recycled content.