|ECPs who might face edging challenges with wrap sunglasses can look to today’s edging systems for solutions.|
|Mr Blue’s edging system from Essilor Instruments provides an eye-level screen with an intelligent interface that is easy to follow.|
|The 4-axis Optek Shape Lens Finishing Center is Windows-based to offer a user-friendly experience.|
|AIT’s E6 Edging System has a high-end edger, C5 blocker, and Trace 3 tracer.|
New edging systems with advanced features can enhance an ECP’s profitability.
I’m in the edger systems market again but it’s a lot different now than it used to be. As a second-generation optician, I grew up watching the different edgers my father used in the years before I joined him in the business. They all worked the same way. You placed a pattern on one side of a spindle and the lens on the other side within the edging chamber. You adjusted the size of the lens with a dial and slowly cut the lens down until it was the proper size. In the latter part of the ’80s I joined my father and was trained on that very same equipment.
Finally, just before the turn of the century, we purchased our very first patternless edger. Now we could edge lenses with precision and speed unheard of with the pattern-driven edgers. The blocker and tracer that came with the new edging system made fabricating a pair of spectacles a breeze. With updated equipment, we could keep up with the demands of a growing marketplace.
For the next 10 years, we plodded happily along with our new edging system. And then the frame styles began to change and suddenly the cost savings we once had were lost to the rimless revolution. Sure, I could-and did-drill lenses by hand but the precision was lost. In order to maintain the quality of work we had become known for, we had to start sending the frames out to the lab to have the lenses edged and drilled. We then decided it was time to purchase an edger that could do that for us and could handle newer lens materials.
Finally, we had an edging system that was going to save me money and allow me the freedom to do what I only dreamed of. I could drill my lenses while still in the edger. I could even modify the B measurement a little bit if I needed more room for a PAL or to change the A measurement if a frame was a bit too snug for the rimless wearer. I could store a few jobs if the patient wanted to use her own frame but couldn’t leave it with me. This would save me some time when a patient came in five minutes before closing time to have his lenses edged. It was fantastic!
I was saving money by not paying edging or drilling charges and I felt better about knowing that the person edging the lenses could actually see the end result on the patient’s face. Yes, life was great, until the next generation of frames and lenses came along. I now have a case of “I wants” so I’m back in the new edger market again.
NEW WRAP CHALLENGES
As wrap design sunglasses become more of a trend than a fad, I am facing new issues. Why is it that the patient who wants the 8.00D-base curve wrap sunglasses is always the one with a 4.00D-base curve prescription? And why is it that sunglasses manufacturers always want to put that little shelf on the back of the eyewire that requires hand beveling the lenses to make them fit securely? Then there are the safety and sports eyewear frames that require a shelf bevel to retain the lenses in the frame in case a ball or an elbow might strike them. And how long before we see the resurgence of the old Carrera Porsche sunglasses from the late ’70s with the interchangeable lenses that the patient with the -6.00D Rx wants?
New frame styles are going to require me to start sending more and more work to the lab for edging, thereby eating away at the profits I struggle to earn. Just this past month, I sent at least half a dozen jobs to one of my wholesale labs to be edged. And even then, the lab returned one pair saying they couldn’t edge the proper bevel on it.
So, it’s back to the edger market for me. It’s time to see where I need to invest my money to be able to provide my patients with a faster turnaround time and better service. And what an incredible market it is! There are edging options I never dreamed I’d need. But now that I have seen them, I don’t know if I can live without them. What I’m looking for is a full-featured edger system from one of the following companies: AIT Industries, Inc., Briot USA, Coburn Technologies, Inc., Essilor Instruments USA, National Optronics, Optek International, Santinelli International, Inc., or Satisloh North America, Inc.
My optical company has long been known as the leading seller of drilled rimless eyewear in my market. I regularly offer rimless designs and their shape and color combinations allow me to individualize eyewear. But sometimes it’s not enough. When I saw the sculpting that some of the new edging systems can do with a lens, I was amazed. Some can etch the front surface of the lens, cut unique edge designs, and even offset holes to allow jewels to be installed. This not only allows me to save money, but I can make more money by charging for little additions.
Selling multiple pairs is always a great way to increase sales but if the multiple pairs don’t make you more profit, then it isn’t worth the effort. Most of my multiple pair sales are by way of prescription sunglasses or sports glasses. Several companies package frames and lenses, however, there is more profit to be made if you can do the work yourself. But you’ll lose all of that profit if you have to continually re-order lenses because you can’t get them to fit.
New edging systems can create a bevel on the lens to properly match the base curve of the frame and let the lens sit properly and snugly. Since all of the sunglass lenses I sell are polarized, it is important that the edger I choose can allow me to move the bevel all the way to the front and still cut away enough of the back edge to fit properly without showing the untinted lens edge on the front.
Today’s AR treatments are making it more difficult to get the edging blocks to stay in place on the lenses. This is especially true with some of the thicker lenses that are being edged to fit a small frame. Some of the new edging systems have options that mill the lens before edging to cut away most of the unused portion of the lens so that the edging produces very little stress on the lens. The less I have to redo due to slippage, the more my profits go up.
As I evaluate edging features and see where to spend my money, I realize the real question is not whether I can afford to purchase a new edging system, but can I afford not to?
Kevin Harrison is president and owner of Heritage Vision Center, an independent optical dispensary in Hattiesburg, MI.
|WHERE TO FIND IT:|
|AIT Industries, Inc.
|Coburn Technologies, Inc.
|Essilor Instruments USA
|Santinelli International, Inc.
|Satisloh North America, Inc.