Bringing It All In House
Advancing technology is presenting eyecare professionals with opportunities to bring the entire lens processing system into their offices
By Susan P. Tarrant
Eyecare professionals have a wealth of opportunities when it comes to bringing lab work in-house. For years, tracing and edging equipment have helped ECPs cut costs by bringing finishing into their offices. In recent years, the same has become true for surfacing and other types of lens generation—even the new digital (free-form) design lenses. Here, we look at some of the latest surfacing and generation options for your in-office lens labs.
Top to bottom: Oasis MAX from Optek, Fast Grind 2200 from Super Systems, QSpex's Premium Lens System
The EasyForm Integrated Digital Free-Form Processing System from Augen Optics provides a turnkey opportunity for multi-doctor practices, medium-sized integrated retailers, or small independent labs to enter free-form lens production. The system includes a speed blocker, the EasyForm FF-V3 Digital Surfacing Generator, polisher, and laser engraver. Augen Lens Design Software (included) provides the lab with the ability to produce free-form Augen HDRx Trinity Progressives and HD Single Vision lenses onsite.
The EasyForm system produces both conventional and free-form lenses. In addition to Augen designs, users can produce any lens design that can be mathematically rendered. Average throughput for conventional lenses is 30 pairs per hour, 16 pairs per hour for non-progressive free-form surfaces, and 12 pairs for free-form progressives.
Above, Optical Dynamics' Q-1200 Digital Lens System; right, the LaunchPad from Coburn Technologies; below, the EasyForm Integrated Digital Free-Form Processing System from Augen Optics
Created for in-office optical labs, the Chemalux 300DL CTC Lab offers ECPs cut-to-coat free-form technology. The system was developed after Chemat Vision (a division of Chemat Technology) acquired DAC International's dry-cut free-form technology. It combines DAC's precision digital generator with Chemat's unique matching scratch-resistant coating, and it cuts out polishing.
DAC is also fully integrated with Chemalux Spin-on AR coating technology, forming a complete free-form production line with a footprint of 10x20 feet. With the elimination of polishing and fast hard coating and AR capabilities, lens processing time is under an hour.
Coburn Technologies offers ECPs the LaunchPad, a free-form lens processing system for small labs and retail environments. Geared toward independent and multi-location practices, the LaunchPad is a disposable polishing system with a foam lap, compatible with select Coburn polishers, thereby making even non-free-form polishers able to process free-form lens jobs.
It is the focal point of Coburn's Free-Form MiniLab, a specially designed processing lab that produces free-form lenses in-house—within limited space and at an affordable rate and minimal processing change—according to company representatives. The Free-Form MiniLab and LaunchPad bring the ECP through surfacing, finishing, and even optional AR treatment, and it can be scaled to fit any location from a wholesale lab to a retail center.
The Axiom Surface Generator is a compact, three-axis generator for all organic lens materials. This tabletop generator provides fast, complete lens processing in a variety of lens curves. Its compact and ergonomic design, dry-cut technology, and easy-to-use touch screen make it an attractive candidate for in-office surfacing.
The Axiom's upgraded processor increases its speed and productivity, and offers surface generation, lens cribbing, and pin beveling in one step. It processes plastic or foam laps to match the surfaceable lens curve, while integrated smart software minimizes waste and cutting time. It generates prescriptions in a range from -30.00 up to +6.00D.
The Oasis (Optek Advanced System for Integrated Surfacing) MAX is a complete, fully computerized surfacing lab system. Every major station (or “cell”) features microprocessor control and is networked to an Rx server. This technology allows critical decisions to be made one, as the job is input. From that point on, intelligent software systems automatically establish optimal configuration settings and manage the processing cycles at each cell. Manual intervention is essentially limited to loading the lens and pressing the start button, according to the company.
It is able to process brand-name lenses across a full range of prescriptions. The Oasis MAX can be used in spaces as small as 100 square feet, making it ideal for retail, in-office use.
The company's Q-1200 Digital Lens System uses digital free-form molds to create finished prescription lenses in office and, when used in conjunction with its nanoCLEAR AR unit, can add AR. The lenses are created from liquid lens material, eliminating the need to cast a semi-finished blank that is later surfaced to the final prescription. According to Optical Dynamics, this process allows for pristine optics and improved vision.
Lenses are available in premium index materials, including clearLIGHT PLUS, sunSMART, and ultraSUN photochromics. All lensescan be drilled.
|Once you've got a lens lab set up in house (or even if you are still just finishing lenses in house), you've got to let your patients know. And you've got to get the word out to your community that you can process lenses quickly.|
Here are some quick tips:
■ WEBSITE. Make sure you feature the fact that you can make a complete set of eyewear on site, with little wait time.
■ ADVERTISING. Mention your lab in all your advertising. Consider creating a special lab-focused ad.
■ MAILINGS. Alert existing patients to your expanded capabilities. Include a coupon toward their next pair of glasses done with your new system.
■ SOCIAL MEDIA. Tweet it. Facebook it. Include pictures of your new lab.
■ SIGNAGE. Let everyone who comes into your dispensary or office know what you now offer. Don't forget your window—it's the great way catch the attention of passersby.
The company's nanoCLEAR AR system is designed to work with the Q-2100 Digital Lens System, allowing the user to produce AR lenses in fewer than 90 minutes. The entire lens production is computer controlled and easy for existing staff members to use, according to company representatives.
QSpex Technologies' QSpex Premium Lens System allows ECPs to produce quality spectacle lenses in about 35 minutes. The system is designed with a small footprint, easy operation, and a quick (half-day on average) training system to align with in-office use. According to the company, the hands-on time requiring operator attention is about five minutes per pair of lenses.
Top, Schneider Optical Machines' DSC ProLab; below, Chemalux 300DL CTC Lab from Chemat Vision
The QSpex Premium Lens System utilizes single-use, disposable plastic molds. Each back mold is supplied with a single-use, pre-attached lens spacer. All lens treatments have been pre-applied onto the molds by QSpex and transfer during lens curing.
Product availability includes AQuity 155 Premium Lenses in single vision, polarized, photochromic, and advanced digital progressive designs, with a seven-layer, hydrophobic and oleophobic AR treatment. The system produces lenses in -4.25D to +2.00D with cylinder to -2.00D and progressive adds of +1.00D to +3.00D, all in 0.25D steps.
SCHNEIDER OPTICAL MACHINES
Schneider brings digital surfacing to in-office labs with its DSC ProLab, an all-in-one compact digital surfacing lab generator, polisher, laser engraver, and measuring unit. This self-sufficient surfacing center automatically coordinates complex processing steps, organizes the necessary interactions, and decides on needed tools and macros. It is driven by an on-board lab management system and on-board lens design software, so the surfacing center can work independently of external data streams.
The Axiom Surface Generator by National Optronics
Features include an industrial RS-tec motor to generate a broad range of geometries and materials; calibration and verification systems; and a polishing unit that together ensure optimal management and selection of pads, easy-to-understand instructions, and a washing station. Each lens also gets a high-quality laser marking signature.
The system has a three-by-six-foot footprint. The production capacity is approximately 10 free-form digital lens jobs per hour. Lens materials include CR39, high-index, polycarbonate, and Trivex in a curve range of 0 to 18 diopters.
INFO: 972-247-4000, schneider-om.com
SUPER SYSTEMS OPTICAL TECHNOLOGIES
This company's Fast Grind 2200 is a complete surfacing lab in one machine, allowing ECPs to generate, fine, and polish a pair of digital lenses in just 12 minutes. This revised system eliminates the need for generators, blockers, and other equipment by using a three-pad process to first grind the backside of lenses and then smooth and polish.
The Fast Grind 2200 grinds lenses to any thickness using only tap water, and needs a space of 28x27 inches. It is capable of surfacing single-vision, progressive, bifocal, and flat-top designs in all major materials (including ADDVantage PALs), in addition to polarized, photochromic, mirror coatings, and AR treatments.
INFO: 513-321-2456, superoptical.com EB