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Sustainable materials

We take every effort to source and use as many sustainable materials as possible to ensure we minimize our impact on the planet. This calls for some high-tech solutions, turning sustainable organic materials into some of the highest-quality materials on the eyewear market today.
Neubau sustainable material natural3 D 16x9

Castor oil – a high-performance and sustainable raw material

The castor beans used to produce oil for our bio-based plastic are sourced from a cooperative of 2,730 certified farmers in India. The farmers are part of a sustainable farming movement called the PRAGATI Initiative. Under this initiative, they have adopted improved farm waste management practices and received safety kits and intensive training to improve their skills and help them cultivate in an ecological way. The castor oil plants used for our eyewear are all non genetically modified (non-GMO).

Castor oil is a colorless to pale liquid with a very distinct taste and smell. The oil and its derivatives are used in a wide range of manufacturing applications, including lubricants, hydraulic and brake fluids, paints, dyes, coatings, inks and nylon. Its many remarkable properties have earned the castor oil plant the title of miracle plant”, however, it is also well known for being the source of the deadly toxin ricin. This toxic protein is only found in the seeds of the plants which must be handled with extreme care. Ricin is insoluble in oil which means it can be safely removed from the oil during the pressing process. Cold pressed castor oil is therefore non-toxic which is why it is also widely used in medications, cosmetics and as the base of biopolymers such as naturalPX and natural3D.

From castor oil to innovative biopolymers

We have called upon Mother Nature to create effective and versatile materials that can be used to produce our spectacle frames. It all starts with the castor oil plant which is known as the miracle plant for very good reasons. 

The heavy use of petroleum based plastics around the world is taking a huge toll on the environment. The overconsumption of these plastics deplete precious mineral resources and destroy massive parts of our environment. The distillation of petroleum and the cracking of naphta require enormous amounts of energy. These factors led to the development of our plant-based alternatives naturalPX and natural3D.

Neubau Kreislauf PX 2001 RZ

Benefits


Resource-saving

naturalPX and natural3D are both biobased plastics made from renewable castor oil, opposite to non-renewable petroleum-based resources that are damaging to the environment. At the moment, biobased plastics only make up 0.5% of all manufactured plastics world-wide, so we are leading the way in developing and utilizing materials that do not deplete the planet’s precious mineral resources.

Fantastic wearability

naturalPX and natural3D are not just kinder to the environment, they also have many special properties that optimize the look and feel of neubau eyewear. They are even 30% lighter than acetate, which is the most commonly used plastic for the production of eyewear. Their high elasticity and form stability also ensure that the frames fit well and retain their shape.

Beauty and flexibility in design

naturalPX is more transparent than glass. This wonderful characteristic makes it possible to produce a wide variety of innovative color combinations and crystal-clear finishes, perfect for customers who want to express their unique style and personality. natural3D has slightly different properties, but still offers a great deal of flexibility in terms of colors and styles. Our 3D frames are distinguished by their fine details, rich opaque colors and textures which would be hard to achieve using conventional manufacturing methods.

Pollutant-free

The processes involved in the extraction of castor oil do not demand high levels of energy, which means carbon dioxide emissions are very low. Our customers can therefore purchase our eyewear safe in the knowledge that we are doing everything possible to minimize our company’s carbon footprint. In addition, both materials are free from harmful chemicals such as BPA, BPS and plasticizers which are major pollutants and are linked to a wide range of health problems.

Made to last

Today’s environmentally conscious consumers are looking for well-designed products that last. Frames made from naturalPX and natural3D are designed to stay in shape and stand the test of time which is great for customers who follow the ethos of buy less and buy better”.

Skin-friendly

naturalPX and natural3D are hypoallergenic materials. This means they do not react with your body’s natural chemicals or anything else you put on your skin.

naturalPX

65% of this innovative bio-based polyamide material is made up of oil extracted from organically grown castor beans. The remaining 35% is regular polymer which is needed to reinforce the strength and elasticity of the material. naturalPX doesn’t just help us minimize our carbon footprint, it allows us to design and manufacture highperformance eyewear in a wide range of stylish colors and finishes.

Injection molding

For our naturalPX materia we have developed an extremely fast injection molding processl which takes approximately 1 minute for every frame. This high speed injection molding method controls the flow of naturalPX more precisely as it enters the mold which makes the process more efficient and prevents unnecessary waste. More than 90% of the material that is used is processed to produce a new frame. Any small amounts of excess naturalPX that escape can be recycled. 400 frames can be produced by each injection molding machine every day, making this a highly efficient and sustainable manufacturing process.

Neubau production natural PX granulate

The coloring process

We have spent many years developing sophisticated production methods to produce attractive colored spectacle frames. Two methods are used to produce our collections of vibrant or subtly shaded eyewear. Color can be added to the naturalPX material before it runs through the injection molding process, or additional color can be added after this process through air brushing, dip dying, digital printing and other processes which are well guarded trade secrets.

Neubau production natural PX color powder web

Our materials naturalPX and natural3D are free from harmful chemicals such as BPA, BPS and plasticizers.

neubau eyewear

natural3D

natural3D is a 100% bio-based polymer made from non genetically modified castor oil beans which we use in our 3D printing process. This material is not only derived from a renewable source, it also enables us to produce the frames without creating solid or cutting waste, so the whole process leaves an extremely small ecological footprint. 

natural3D produces extremely robust and durable components comparable to those created with our naturalPX material. It is also solvent resistant and plasticizer free.

Our natural3D printed frames are extremely flexible and impact resistant. This robust material ensures that the frames retain their shape and are built to last. 3D printed frames are also extremely lightweight; in fact, they are 30% lighter than acetate. The cutting-edge finishing and sealing processes used during 3D printing produces frames with a beautiful finely pored surface, so they look and feel great too.

3D printing with natural 3D

In simple terms, our 3D printing process involves sintering layers of powdered plastic into a solid structure. This is known as SLS (selective laser sintering). Sintering” is the process of forming a solid shape by heat without melting it to the point of liquefaction. The SLS process is carried out in the following steps:

Neubau eyewear natural3 D 3 D printing
01
Heating
The highly refined superlight
bio-polyamide powder
(natural3D) is heated by a
high-powered laser to just
below melting point (165°C).
02
Printing
The 3D structure is created
by printing layer upon layer
of powder that are each separately
sintered by the laser.
This process takes 12 hours.
03
Cooling
The cooling process also takes
12 hours after printing and
then the printed parts can be
unpacked ready for surface
treatment and coloration.

Surface treatment

The parts have an opaque white finish when they come out of the printer. They have to undergo surface treatment before they can be color treated. A sand blasting process is used to remove any residues of the polyamide powder. This step is carefully executed to prevent any surface damage. The surface is then polished ready for the coloration process.

The coloring process for 3D printed frames

Our high-tech coloring process is a well-guarded company secret. We only produce parts in monochrome shades at the moment, but we are continually developing new and innovative color options. The colors are resistant to natural chemicals (such as sweat), UV light and any type of solvent normally used by opticians.

Sustainable aspects of 3D printing

3D printing is much greener than traditional manufacturing methods which are used to produce acetate frames. It is especially sustainable because it only uses the material it needs during the sintering process. This results in an exceptionally efficient, zero-waste manufacturing solution.

A significant proportion of the natural3D material used in the printing process can be recycled. After each batch has been printed, 50% of the residue powder can be mixed with new powder to create a new batch of products or printing filaments. This production method does not require any extra tools, so it also saves on resources.

Neubau eyewear natural3 D optic Erin

Our 3D printing recycling process

The ethos of circularity in manufacturing drives all our decisions and is why we introduced our closed-loop 3D manufacturing process at the beginning of 2019. Circularity is achieved by recycling residue polyamide in our production process and by ensuring waste we are unable to use can be used in other applications. We are able to achieve this in a cost-effective way that conforms with our environmental commitments as specified in the IS0 14001 standard. 

During every printing process, a rectangular box is completely filled with powder. Not all of the powder is melted during the 3D printing process and is defined as used” powder. This can be mixed with new powder and reused to produce a new batch of components. The mixture cannot contain more than 50% used powder. 

Once the old powder is no longer usable, it is collected by a specialist plastics processing company which ensures that the powder is properly recycled within environmental management guidelines. As long as the material is free of any traces of oxidation and contamination, it can be recycled in any production process that does not specifically require 100% virgin products. The manufacturer of our 3D printer covers the transport costs and acts as an intermediary between us and the recycling company. The money is used to fund social initiatives as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility program.

Titanium

The titanium we use in our eyewear is made from high-quality beta titanium which is an alloy of titanium with the addition of other metals such as vanadium and aluminum which provide additional strength and toughness. The exact composition of the alloy we use is a well-guarded company secret. We only use high-grade titanium from Japan from suppliers who meet our rigorous quality requirements. Titanium can also be used in a sustainable way as only minimal amounts of material are used to produce excellent results. Titanium can also be considered as a sustainable material, because it does not deteriorate, it can be used forever and is easy to recycle. Due to its high strength and low density, products can be made small and light which avoids the unnecessary use of energy resources.

Our titanium provides our frames with great elasticity, strength and stability, making them the ideal choice for active people. This material has many benefits as it’s stronger and more lightweight than many ordinary metals. It is highly resistant to wear and tear and will stay looking newer for longer. It is also hypoallergenic and can be used for medical purposes such as transplants.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel is an alloy of iron and carbon steel with chromium and other elements. It is widely used in the food industry and medical applications because of its durability, surface finish and resistance to corrosion. It is an environmentally friendly choice of material as it can be recycled an indefinite number of times, with no degradation. 65% of the stainless steel we use for our products is recycled steel and it is estimated that around 80% of all stainless steel worldwide is recycled, making it the most recycled material on the planet. Stainless steel is an ideal material for products such as our neubau frames that are designed to look good and last a long time. It’s lightweight, has excellent mechanical properties and a sleek appearance. It is also resistant to corrosion as the chromium in the stainless steel prevents it from corroding by forming a protective layer over the metals underneath so that they never come into contact with oxygen

Characteristics

Stainless steel is very lightweight and flexible, making it a great choice where comfort is a priority. As it is also a very ductile material, it allows us to create ultra-thin and intricate frame designs. It is also noncorrosive, highly durable and resistant to breakage. Stainless steel is complying with the EN 1811 standard which defines the safety parameters for metals that come into contact with the skin.

Neubau optic Sarah stainless steel
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