How Is Bio Acetate Made?
Here at MONC we believe in designing products responsibly - for people who believe in the beauty of true craftsmanship. When designing, we strive to make sure that every aspect of our products are made in a more considerate and conscious way. In 2019 we started making our eyewear frames from bio acetate. 'That's very nice', we hear you say but what is acetate... and why add the bio?
WHy have we chosen to use BIO ACETATE?
Acetate is most likely what your eyewear frames are made from. It's a high quality, durable material made from cotton and wood pulp based fibres. Previously, in order to turn the raw organic material into usable acetate, a plasticiser is required in the process and it's usually fossil fuel based. Thankfully, our acetate suppliers over in Italy have been able to substitute the fossil fuel based plasticisers with organic based ones - hurrah!
This creates bio acetate, the bio-based alternative to industry standard acetate which is made without the use of fossil fuels.
is BIO ACETATE BIOdegradable?
Before we show you how bio acetate is made we want to speak a little bit about the capabilities of this wondrous material. As bio plastics become more common place in the modern world, we want to be as clear as possible about the ways in which bio acetate should be used, looked after and disposed of:
1. Will the frames last as long as before?
Yes. The technical properties of bio acetate are the same as before, meaning that when looked after properly - your eyewear frames should last for many years. They can be repaired and serviced multiple times before they ever require disposal.
2. Is bio acetate biodegradable?
The high bio-based content of bio acetate means that it's declared as a biodegradable material. However, this doesn't mean you can simply pop your frames into compost heap and hope they will biodegrade. Bio acetate is biodegradable under industrial composting conditions in 115 days. So, when you want to part with your frames, you can simply send them back to us and we'll recycle them or dispose of in them in the safest way possible. If you have some frames that you would like to recycle - send us an email: email@example.com.
BIO ACETATE material certifications
"The advantage of using BIO ACETATE is that it Is composed of products of natural origin that during their cultivation have consumed CO2 generating oxygen; it is not made from plastics of petroleum origin. We like to think that with BIO ACETATE we have contributed to the well-being of our planet"
Davide Orsi Mazzucchelli in 20/20 Europe
how is BIO ACETATE made?
The lifecycle of bio acetate starts with cotton crops. The harvesting is carried out by machine which removes the white ‘bolls’ from the top of the plants, keeping the rest intact. Once collected, the cotton is then decontaminated from field-debris and insects before being refined and purified.
to the factory
The cotton is then taken to the Mazzucchelli factory in Italy, where cotton linters and wood fibres, are purified into a pulp and turned into a resin. In a process called organic synthesis, the purified resin is mixed with the bio-based plasticisers. This formula induces the creation of the compound bio acetate.
The next process is adding in all the different colours. Disperse dye is used to make various colours that are then introduced to the neutral bio acetate compound. For the production of bio acetate, the disperse dyes are in powdered form which can be pre-mixed to make bespoke colours. Complex colourations can be produced by layering several colours and sandwiching them together or pressing them through a variety of dyes. The dyes are then thoroughly mixed through the acetate by repeatedly rolling the compound through flat metal rollers.
Watch the video below to see the process of adding colour.
Once thoroughly mixed and rolled, the dyed bio acetate is then placed into large box-shaped moulds. A manual whell-press is used to hydraulically squeeze the bio acetate under pressure and exert the necessary pressure to form blocks. This is the process known as casting which produces block acetate. This is when the compound is cured in large blocks before cutting.
Some of our bespoke colours are made up of different patterns - such as our Dark Havana colour. To achieve this effect, the bio acetate is sliced into finished sheets or chipped into small coloured pellets. These pellets are then heated and mixed within other colours of bio acetate. By layering differing tones, opacities and colours of pre-made bio acetate, the chips are placed back into the moulds to make another block of patterned bio acetate, ready to be sliced.
slicinG INTO SHEETS
Once the bio acetate is cured and dyed, the blocks are placed onto a hydraulic moving bed which pushes the block against an angled cutting knife. The knife is set at for the sheet thickness, which then shaves layers off the acetate block. These are the sheets of acetate that are eventually cut into frames.
The freshly cut sheets of bio acetate are hung up by hooks, ready for heat-stabilisation. The bio acetate is held at a consistent temperature for several days in an oven to stabilise the sheets. The bio acetate is then ready to be sent to our workshop in Northern Italy, where it will be crafted into frames.
SEE HOW OUR FRAMES ARE MADE
Our eyewear frames are made inside an independent, family owned and run workshop in the North of Italy. Built using knowledge passed down through generations each frame is crafted from high quality, locally sourced materials that are less harmful to the planet.