How Julbo sunglasses are made

Take a tour of the French eyewear giant's global HQ

Company Spotlight Gear
Julbo Factory Tour

Prototypes start life looking rough, but the end result looks pro.

Last year, Mtbr visited the global headquarters of French eyewear brand Julbo to learn what differentiates them from competitors. In the process, they almost killed us. We also had the opportunity to tour one their two factories and learn more about how sunglasses are made.

The first step in designing a new pair of sunglasses is inspiration. Julbo looks to their team of professional athletes, employees, and brand ambassadors to learn what users need. Once an idea is born, the art department makes a prototype. The original starts off looking rough with multiple pieces of material layered together, but the end result is surprisingly polished.

Julbo Factory Tour

A coordinate measurement machine measures the prototype.

After the shape is approved, the prototype is examined by a coordinate measurement machine. This device slowly circles the frame while taking thousands of data points, which are then uploaded to a computer.

Julbo Factory Tour

Multiple versions of the frames are 3D printed.

From these coordinates, 3D printed models are created. The first model (pictured in white) is crude, but the second (grey) and third iterations (green) are much closer to production. These models often feature different material types to better replicate what the finished product will resemble.

CAD file for frame molds.

CAD file for frame molds.

When the product design has been finalized, software is used to program tool paths for the CNC work required to make molds.

Julbo Factory Tour

Julbo cues up work orders in advance to ensure that the CNC machine is always operating.

The files are then sent from the offices to a CNC shop down the hall. This five-axis machine operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Julbo Factory Tour

An automated five axis CNC machine of this quality retails for 500,000 euro or more.

As molds are completed, the machine deposits them into an adjacent cage, grabs a blank, and begins working on whatever project is cued up next.

Julbo Factory Tour

This CNC machine is so clever, it cleans the tool bits before returning them to storage.

Above the mold is storage for different tools. Depending on the operation, the machine can select different bits.

Julbo Factory Tour

This electronic discharge machine allows Julbo to create complex shapes.

Julbo also uses electrical discharge machining to machine complex shapes into mold such as this CE certification stamp. The process works by generating a spark that melts and vaporizes material. It’s commonly used when close tolerances are required or in places where a conventional cutting tool could cause damage.

Julbo Factory Tour

In the past, molds would have to be hand polished before being sent to the production floor, but the production quality of the CNC machine has eliminated this step.

Once finished, each of the molds are inspected.

Julbo Factory Tour

The French factory located at global HQ is used for first run batches and production samples.

The bulk of Julbo’s manufacturing is conducted in Romania, but they keep several injection molding machines in France to ensure that tooling is working properly. The also use this facility to produce samples and first production runs.

Continue to page 2 for more of our Julbo headquarters tour »

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