I just watched a video that focuses on the manufacturing process for Matrix sunglasses (well, almost anyway…the video specifically talks about the process for eyeglasses, but aside from the UV coating and lens tinting, the process is basically the same). The video and a brief description of the process can be found immediately below.
Generally, the first step is to select a “lens blank” from inventory that matches the shape, curve and attributes needed for that specific pair of sunglasses. These blanks are then put into a machine, and the backside of them is ground with a cone-shaped grinder to achieve the required spherical and cylindrical curvatures, thickness, and any prescriptive requirements. Importantly, the lenses cannot get too hot during this process, otherwise warping and other imperfections can appear. Thus, water is used to provide a cooling effect and prevent heat-related imperfections (as well as to wash away any cut material).
After this grinding process, the lenses are removed and placed into a special surfacing machine to eliminate any marks that were created previously (basically, each lens is rubbed against a special fining pad & sanding block to smooth out any marks). After this refining process is complete, the lenses are then polished in a similar machine using polishing pads and a liquid polishing compound. The lenses are then removed, washed, and inspected to make sure no imperfections are present.
It is at this point that the lenses get treated with materials to add color, UV protection, glare-reduction, scratch resistance, and any other enhancements. To do this, they are first placed into yet another machine that ultrasonically cleans and etches them (this etching ensures adhesion of the specific lens treatments). Then, a scratch-resistant coating, or primer, is applied, and the lenses are placed into an infrared oven to cure for approximately 4 minutes. A topcoat lacquer is then applied, and the lenses are then placed again into the infrared curing machine overnight. This provides a super hard coating that prevents scratches.
The next day, the lenses are inspected again and placed into the “AR chamber lens holding device” (AR = anti-reflective). The chamber removes all the air to create a vacuum, and special chemicals are then ignited, melted into a gas, and released into the chamber. As this happens, the lenses are continuously rotated and flipped to ensure equal coverage. This process repeats multiple times for each chemical application required for those specific lenses.
The lenses then must be sized and shaped to fit into the applicable frame via a process known as edging. The computer that controls the edging process downloads the frame pattern information, and the edges of the lenses are ground down to the required specs. The finished lenses are then inserted into the frame, inspected again, cleaned and packaged.
So, there you have it; everything you ever wanted to know about the manufacturing of sunglasses, but were afraid to ask! So whether you’re partial to Neo Sunglasses, Agent Smith Sunglasses, Morpheus Sunglasses, or something else, you can now tell people with pride that you know exactly how they were made! (well…sort of anyway!)