For the most part, the decision to order safety glasses with either plastic or metal frames is one of choice and personal taste.
Plastic Safety Frames vs Metal
Each material, however, has certain built-in characteristics you may want to take into consideration. Let’s examine a few of them here.
- Offer a classic “standard eyeglasses” look
- Thinner, less obtrusive frame
- Can be lighter than plastic
- More variety in color and pattern
- “Sunglasses” look with many stylistic variations
- Great protection coverage
Metal frames can be a great choice if you’d like your safety glasses to resemble classic, traditional eyewear. Metal safety frames in formats like the standard aviator – and several other styles – look very similar to a pair of regular, everyday eyeglasses. For all intents and purposes, whether fitted with prescription lenses or not, they basically are standard eyeglasses; the only difference is that your safety frames and lenses will be made of a more durable impact-resistant material.
The typical wire-like structure of a metal frame also provides a lower profile, further downplaying the presence of your safety glasses. A thin, metallic-colored frame is less likely to call attention to your face than most plastic styles. Such a frame can also be slightly lighter than a thick plastic one, resulting in less slippage and more comfort when worn for long periods of time. Be aware, however, that if side protection is necessary on your safety glasses, either permanent or removable side shield may be required. These are often clear but they will raise both the profile and the weight of your glasses.
Plastic-framed safety glasses, just like plastic standard eyewear frames, offer a wider variety of formats, colors, and patterns. Metal frames may be less obtrusive, but plastic frames can be customized to match your personality and style. From a stylistic standpoint, metal is the way to go if you want to hide the fact that you’re wearing glasses; plastic gets the call if you want to use your glasses as a fashion accessory.
Another plus in the plastic column is that metal can be more conductive…a big advantage, especially if your work involves electricity. Certain professions require the use of non-conductive safety glasses to cut down on the likelihood of your eyewear attracting an arc of electricity. Metal safety frames can be coated, but plastic is naturally less conductive.
Finally, plastic frames tend to feature thicker browlines and fuller temple arms than the typical metal frame. This may add a bit to the weight, but it offers more eye and facial coverage, hence better protection. Where a metal frame may require additional side shields, most plastic frames will feature a wraparound or larger-profile shape, which by its very design tends to provide peripheral protection.