The Difference Between Acetate and Plastic Optical Frames

When it comes to buying prescription eyeglasses, one of the most exciting and rewarding parts is picking out the perfect pair of frames. From choosing the ideal style and shape to flatter your face to deciding on the right colors or patterns, customizing your perfect pair of eyeglasses can be fun and satisfying experience.

However, one aspect of choosing eyeglasses frames that is often overlooked is selecting the materials from which they are made. This is often due to the fact that many of us are simply not aware that there are different materials to consider. In fact, it’s likely that most people haven’t taken the time to research these materials in order to find the one that suits their needs and lifestyle.

But where do you get started? Which materials should you consider for your prescription eyeglasses frames? If you’re feeling a little confused about this step in the process, never fear — we’re here to help.

We’ve gathered the necessary information about two of the most popular eyeglass frame materials: plastic and acetate Below, we had broken it down to help you figure out which material best suits your unique needs. Keep reading to learn more.

Plastic VS. Acetate - What’s the Difference?

Plastic vs acetate frames

You may find yourself thinking, “Plastic and acetate are the same thing, right?” While they may appear similar at first glance, these materials are actually quite different. Let’s take a closer look at each key difference below.

Acetate Frames

Acetate, also known as cellulose acetate, is a nylon-based plastic material made from plants. It is hypoallergenic, flexible and durable. Acetate can be layered to create multi-dimensional and visually interesting frames. This layering process allows for unique patterns and color combinations. Because of this, acetate frames are popular for their wide range of color options and patterns.

Acetate frames are also known for their durability and increased resistance to impact. They are less likely to break or crack compared to some other frame materials like plastic and despite being slightly heavier than some materials, acetate frames are still considered relatively lightweight. Thy have a perfect feel of richness and quality.

Cellulose acetate is also considered a much more environmentally friendly alternative to synthetic plastics. Its renewable source materials and biodegradability contribute to its eco-friendliness.

How are Acetate Frames Made?

The process begins with sourcing natural materials, primarily wood pulp and cotton fibers. These materials are chemically treated to extract cellulose, a natural polymer.

The extracted cellulose is then chemically modified through a process called esterification. In this process, the cellulose is combined with acetic anhydride and acetic acid, creating cellulose acetate. This transformation makes the material more pliable, allowing it to be molded into various shapes.

During the manufacturing process, colorants and pigments can be added to the cellulose acetate to achieve a wide range of colors and patterns and is made in sheets that can be used to cut the frames shape.

Using precision cutting machines, the acetate sheets are cut into frame front and temple pieces according to specific designs. The result is a high-quality acetate frame that combines durability, comfort, and aesthetics, offering wearers a fashionable and reliable accessory for their eyewear needs.

Plastic Frames

We all know what plastic glasses frames are and millions of plastic frames have been sourced through China for sell here in the U.S. at major retail stores to local gas stations alike. They are a great option for cheap sunglasses or those who like to get something quick and inexpensive and don't care about quality eyeglasses or their longevity.

However, when investing into your eyesight with prescription glasses or prescription sunglasses, it may be better to elect quality over price. 

How are Plastic Frames Made?

Plastic frames are produced using petroleum-based nylon pellets and a traditional injection mold manufacturing process that can leave the frames feeling stiff or brittle. Colors and dyes can also be added during this process, although there may be a narrower range of options compared to acetate frames.

Price Point

One positive aspect of plastic frames is their affordability. Generally, plastic frames are more budget-friendly compared to acetate frames, which are typically expensive to produce and result in a higher price point.

How They Feel When Worn

Although they may appear similar, plastic and acetate frames have differences in terms of wear and comfort. Acetate frames are typically more lightweight and sit comfortably on the face, with included wires at the temples that make them easy to adjust to fit your face.

On the other hand, plastic frames are heavier and less flexible, providing a stiffer feel that is challenging to adjust.

Why We Use Acetate

Why use Acetate Frames.

At Azimuth, our goal is to provide premium eyeglasses and eyeglass frames at an affordable price point for premium quality glasses. Because we are focused on achieving a higher quality within our products, we have opted to use acetate to produce all of our frames. 

Not only is acetate lightweight and hypoallergenic, but it also provides us with a greater opportunity to create unique colorways and patterns to surprise and delight our customers. Additionally, the use of acetate in our frames provides more durable support and a flexible design that can be customized to better fit our customers’ faces without sacrificing style or quality.

In addition, the use of acetate offers the unique ability to provide longer-lasting prescription eyeglasses for our customers. More durable than traditional plastic styles, acetate frames offer a high level of durability that will keep your frames functioning at their best, even if you happen to bump them or drop them.

Find Your Perfect Frames at Azimuth

Premium Acetate Frames

We are proud to offer an amazing selection of on-trend eyeglasses and classic styles, carefully crafted using premium acetate, to meet the needs of every one of our customers. From the sleek, retro-inspired style to the bold, vibrant aesthetics  we have the perfect pair of prescription designer eyeglasses for men and women that suit any sense of style.

You can also try them on before you buy them with our innovative Virtual Try-On Tool, which allows you to see what any pair of our affordable luxury eyeglasses will look like on you without leaving the comfort of your own home.


When it comes to finding the perfect pair of prescription eyeglasses frames, don’t forget to take a look at the materials used to produce the ones you want. While plastic and acetate may seem to be the same at first glance, these materials are very different and produce different results when used to create eyeglass frames.

At Azimuth, we use premium acetate in all of our products for a more comfortable and durable wear that doesn’t sacrifice quality or style.

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