All You Need to Know About Eyeglass Frame Materials – Plastic, Metal and Unusual

Eyeglass frame materials expand your options for a brand new look. As you shop for eyewear, make sure you ask your eye care professional for advice regarding the durability, colours, lightness, hypoallergenic materials, price, uniqueness and favourite brands. Finding eyeglasses with the qualities you desire most is as easy as picking the right material. Here are the main options available. 


If you love colourful frames, then zyl (cellulose acetate or zylonite) is the material you should go for. Plastic is the most creative and cost-effective option for frame materials. It is lightweight and comes in many finishes. Laminated zyl frames with layered colours are very popular today. Always pick a light colour on the inner side so that the frame disappears from your field of view.

Manufacturers are also going for cellulose acetate propionate, which is a nylon-based plastic. It is recommended because it is hypoallergenic, lightweight and offers more gloss and transparency than most plastics.

Nylon frames came into existence in the 1940s. They lost fame due to their brittleness and a range of other problems. Manufacturers today use blended nylon such as co-polyamides, polyamides and gliamides. The material creates frames that are both lightweight and strong.

Blended nylon is also used in performance and sports frames as a premier material. It is preferred because it is resistant to cold and heat. They are also flexible and, at the same time, stiff.

Did you know that plastic made of castor seed oil is used in certain eyewear? Traditionally, castor oil was used as machinery lubricant, soap ingredient and laxative. It has now made its way into plastic auto parts. Castor oil plastics are developed to counter the high prices of petroleum.

The main problem with plastic frames is they break easier than metal frames. While not easily ignited, they are flammable. With time, exposure to sunlight causes the strength of plastics to reduce slightly.


Monel is an alloy created with a range of metals. It is one of the most common materials used in the manufacture of eyewear frames. While most frames made of Monel are hypoallergenic, some people do experience skin irritation. To prevent this, the right plating has to be used. This includes the use of palladium or nickel-free options.

Titanium and beta-titanium are other common materials used in the making of eyeglass frames. Titanium is silver-gray in colour, durable, lightweight, corrosion-resistant and very strong. It is used in many things, from implantable medical devices like heart valves to spacecraft. Titanium eyeglass frames come in several colours. The best thing is the material is hypoallergenic. Titanium is also used to create alloys. Titanium alloy frames are cheaper.

Beryllium is a cheaper alternative to titanium. It is preferred for its ability to resist tarnish and corrosion. This steel-gray metal is thus ideal for persons with high skin acidity or those living in areas with saltwater.  Beryllium is very strong, lightweight, flexible and comes in several colours.

Stainless steel is another perfect alternative to beryllium and titanium. Frames made using stainless steel are strong, lightweight and have very low toxicity. This material is reasonably priced and readily available. It is an alloy of chromium and steel. It might contain other elements. The 10 to 30 percent of chromium contained in stainless steel is what offers excellent resistance to heat, abrasion and corrosion.

Flexon is an alloy; titanium-based. The material was created by Marchon, the eyeglass manufacturer. Flexon is also referred to as memory metal because the material always goes back to the original shape after being bent or twisted. The material is also hypoallergenic, corrosion-resistant and lightweight.

Aluminum is yet another metal used in making metal frames. It is corrosion-resistant and lightweight. Due to the unique look it creates, aluminum is used mainly by high-end eyewear designers.

Unusual Frame Materials

Sterling silver or solid silver is used as a principal frame material since it doesn’t make very comfortable or wearable frames. It can be used as trace elements in metal alloy frames to give a jewelry-like accent.

Gold is also used in premium eyewear frames. It is used as gold plating to accent metal or plastic frames.

Bone, buffalo horn and wood frames are pricier. They are made by hand. While they are less adjustable, stiffer and more expensive than other materials, bone, horn and wood frames have a unique beauty.

Other unconventional materials include leather and precious stones. Get in touch with us to find out more about frame materials. Optician on Wheels comes to you. Call us today.