When Sharp Plastics filed its first patent in 1978 for a swim goggle lens that gave optically perfect vision under water, little did it know where it would lead. Over 83 patents and 20 years later Sha...
When Sharp Plastics filed its first patent in 1978 for a swim goggle lens that gave optically perfect vision under water, little did it know where it would lead. Over 83 patents and 20 years later Sharp is the leading supplier of swim eyewear in North America, and one of the top suppliers in the entire world. Its customers include Adidas, Leader and Arena. It is the sole supplier of swim goggles for Nike. Also, notes director of operations, Radu Beschea, the company recently launched its own “Sharp” brand of swim goggles, which it is marketing exclusively in Japan. Already it has 20 percent of the Japanese market, which equates to 100,000 goggles sold last year.
Located in Delta, B.C., Sharp has 10 Battenfeld and Engel injection molding machines as well as its own design and tool shop. It has several pad printers, which are used to perform the highly critical embossing of logos and other decorative elements that give each line of goggles brand distinction. Both pre-colored resin and color concentrate are used to make goggles in virtually every shade and hue. Goggle lenses are made of polycarbonate and lens gaskets (the part that fits around the eye) are now almost entirely molded from TPE.
One of Sharp’s patents relates to the use of TPE as the gasket material in the goggle. Previously, most swim goggle gaskets were made from foam, which tended to degrade rather rapidly in harsh aquatic environments. Today, Baschea notes, TPE is used in about 80 percent of swim goggle gaskets and at least one other manufacturer of swim goggles is paying the company royalties to use the design.
Innovation continues to drive the company. Last year it launched a new line of “hologram” swim goggles, which creates a visible image on the front of the lens, while maintaining the optically perfect vision. It has already sold over 250,000. It also has six patents on a swim goggle which uses several new concepts for the design of the nose bridge, lens, and head strap clips.