Fun is the stereotypical appeal of technology to youngsters. But, Heidi Hertel knows that function can sometimes be just as important. Hertel is founder and president of Fitz Frames (FF), which 3D-prints custom eyewear for kids.

The company designs the eyewear in Los Angeles, but manufactures them in Youngstown, OH. Its custom approach offers frames that are better fitting, more flexible and lighter than standard plastic models, with snap fit hinges to reduce breaking.

This past June, FF shifted its manufacturing focus to making protective eyewear for frontline medical personnel at hospitals. This eyewear, called Fitz Protect, is specifically designed to provide an enhanced line of defense against COVID-19 infection.

Available in prescription and non-prescription, the thermoplastic eyewear sits fit flush against the skin to reduce the chances of droplet and viral contact. This is the result of custom-fitting the eyewear to each individual’s facial dimensions, as measured by iPhone camera facial mapping.

Hertel says that FF developed Fitz Protect after speaking with many doctors nationwide. The advance eyewear can be worn in conjunction with other personal protective equipment and is designed to be comfortable enough to wear throughout a long shift. It is easily decontaminated using standard sterilization procedures.

Any healthcare professional can use the Fitz App to quickly and easily get a pair of Fitz Protect glasses. The app completes an order in less than four minutes, and the glasses are delivered directly to the customer’s door. All eyewear is 3D-printed on an industrial-grade Formiga P 110 Velocis printer made by EOS GmbH. FF is currently using three models, with plans to add more.

The P 110 uses laser sintering technology to print parts. This technique involves melting and fusing layers of fine plastic powder with a 30-watt, CO2 fiber laser until the object is finished.

The printer has a build volume of 200 by 250 by 330 millimeters. It is versatile enough to handle a wide variety of plastic polymers with different properties, such as temperature resistance, tensile strength, stokes number, color or transparency.

The machine is low-maintenance and requires few accessories. Setup is easy, with all machine parts being application-ready immediately after unpacking and being air cleaned. Scan speed is up to 5 meters per second, with a maximum print rate of 1.2 liters per hour. No post-processing steps are required.

Thus far, workers at hundreds of hospitals are regularly wearing Fitz Protect eyewear. California facilities include Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Walnut Creek, and Kaiser Permanente in San Jose. Other West Coast hospitals include Banner Health University Medical Center in Tucson, AZ, and the VA Portland Health Care System in Oregon.

On the East Coast, Tufts Medical Center in Boston and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York are using the eyewear. Down south, personnel at Advanced Surgery Center in San Antonio, the Houston Medical Center and Arkansas Children’s Northwest Hospital in Springdale, AR, are happy with Fitz Protect.

For more information on 3D printers, call 512-388-7916 or visit