Megane-Ya Strike is not your average glasses shop. This bespoke eyewear maker, located in Kobe, Japan, uses Roland DG's MDX-40A milling system to tailor spectacle frames precisely for its customers.
Based in a building filled with restaurants, Megane-Ya Strike has a relaxing atmosphere – so much so that it transforms into a bar at night. Owner Daisuke Higa explains how his business's name tells customers what to expect.
"Megane' means glasses or eyewear, and the Japanese use of the term 'strike' implies a direct hit or a bulls-eye, so we named the shop based on our concept of handcrafting eyewear designed to suit each individual customer perfectly," he says. "Combined, the name of our shop represents our commitment to eyewear and being a place where customers can learn more about glasses and have fun while doing so."
Part of this fun is offering customers a wide range of chassis, temples, colours and finishes, and sometimes some highly unusual materials: Daisuke himself wears glasses frames made from old vinyl records, as a reference to Kobe's jazz culture.
"One of the more unique designs we have made was for a DJ that featured a musical note in the shape of the frame," he adds, explaining that these frames were made from a layer of black resin material backed with a transparent layer.
"I also had a friend who ordered a his-and-hers set of matching frames that he could wear with his wife at their wedding. Those frames had a mirror-image design when the bride and groom stood next to each other at their ceremony – but the frames lined up perfectly during that special kiss!"
Every customer's choice of frames is made to fit his or her unique facial features. The process includes at least three visits to the shop to ensure they order the perfect pair, with a consultation that considers the customer's style and lifestyle, and the use of some technical equipment.
"For a fully tailored set of frames, we use a 3D scanner to convert the customer's facial features to digital data from which CAD is then used to finalise a design," explains Daisuke.
Customers try on samples before the final frames are machined, which are accurate down to the last millimetre. To achieve this, Megane-ya Strike uses the Roland MDX-40A, a compact CNC mill. This versatile benchtop milling machine is compatible with a wide variety of materials, including acetate, a resin material popular for eyewear thanks to the variety of available colours and finishes available, and its ease of use.
The MDX-40A is typically used to cut out the design from a flat sheet of acetate, which is then bent into shape, parts like hinges and end pieces fitted and grooves added to accommodate the lenses. A team of artisans finishes off each pair perfectly.
During busy periods, Megane-ya Strike produces around 200 glasses a month in its studio. Far more can be made by manufacturers who mass-produce identical frames using large equipment with moulds and jigs, but this isn't the right fit for Daisuke's shop.
"After researching what type of equipment was suitable for machining one-off frames, we discovered Roland DG's MDX-40A milling machine," he says. "After we began using the machine in our studio, we found that for its price, it offered a great balance between performance and size. Equipment from companies other than Roland DG are not suitable at all for operations like ours that do not involve mass-production."
Daisuke has plans to make big changes in the eyewear industry, by increasing the number of artisans in his team to achieve a production volume of one-of-a-kind frames for sale in shops around Japan.
"I eventually want to open a shop where customers can pick and choose their ideal style from a broad selection of designs including off-the-shelf items, retro collections and bespoke styles," he adds.
Megane-ya Strike also hosts workshops where participants can make their own frames manually – a way for customers to get fully involved in the unique world of bespoke eyewear.
Find out more about the Roland MDX-40A compact CNC milling machine. What would you create with it?