These in-office generators enable ECPs to control the quality of the prescriptions they surface while also increasing income and cutting lab costs.
Savvy eyecare professionals know how to stretch a dollar while generating revenue, and one of the best ways is by adding an in-office surfacing lab. This might sound scary at first, but there is a whole world of options to consider that you may have never realized before. In-office lens manufacturing is very economical, and the latest equipment has become easy to use, offering a convenient and cost-efficient turnaround time for both you and your patients. Plus, don’t forget the massive savings you’ll realize from your reduced monthly lab bills. Before long, these systems can pay for themselves.
The top three factors to consider are purchase cost versus monthly savings, available space and the control you’ll have over lens accuracy. Creating a premium in-house surfacing lab does not have to cost a billion dollars, nor does it require a football field of space with expensive lab techs to make it all work correctly.
In-house surfacing systems can now fit in the smallest footprints, are more user friendly for even a novice staffer and can even be tailor made to meet the most modest of budgets. In addition, the service you’ll be able to provide will help you compete. Having a one-stop shop that can do it all, and do it right the first time, may be just what you need to keep and even gain more patients.
Whether you are a start-up, retail office or larger lab, Schneider Optical produces packages tailored to meet your specific volume needs. The DSC Prolab is a small combination unit that can be individually operated and functions as a lens generator, polisher, digital lens marker and measuring unit in a tidy all-in-one package. Key features include computer-controlled polishing, lens design software and an integrated lens wash station to help keep your lab neat and clean. Requiring as few as three polishing pads to produce lenses, the DSC can provide polished lenses to rival any in the industry. The built-in laser marker ensures spot-on lens marking and prescription accuracy, and the unit can produce CR-39, high index, polycarbonate and Trivex materials with a curve range of 0.00D to 18.00D.
In the world of in-house surfacing equipment it’s all about options and creating a package that will meet your lens demands and your patients’ needs. If you are looking to go digital, Augen Optics offers the Easyform FF-V3 digital surfacing generator. Requiring less than 4 sq. ft. of space, the Easyform can produce 30 conventional, 16 free-form single vision or 12 free-form progressive lens jobs per hour. This high performance unit is quiet for in-office use and easy to operate with large buttons and a touch screen providing clear operator instructions.
In terms of accuracy, the Easyform will allow you to create sub-micron surface quality lenses with the curve accuracy of 0.01D. This unit is simple to load and will cut hard resin, Trivex, mid-index, 1.67, polycarbonate and photochromic and polarized lens options. The versatility of the unit results from robust diamond tooling that can ensure accuracy up to 17.00D curves without the need of a tool change, plus the Easyform never needs calibration, eliminating the possibility of downtime. Additional components to consider adding to the Easyform are the FF SB speed blocker, the FF-2LP free-form polisher and the LFL 2020 laser engraver. With this equipment you can produce any lens design that the Easyform software program can mathematically create.
Space restrictions could be one reason you may have not considered in-house surfacing before. Super Optical International’s Fast Grind all-in-one surfacing system requires less than 5 sq. ft. of total space. Capable of producing a pair of lenses in only 12 minutes, Fast Grind was designed for the small and independent retailer to produce precise progressive and single vision lenses on the spot, using only standard power, a source of tap water and a drain. Super Optical also offers a circulation water system for those without a direct water hook up. In the market for the past 25 years, Fast Grind’s software enhancements have proven that it can evolve with lens technology. Highlights include proprietary pre-blocked lenses, computer-guided step-by-step screen instructions, video training, telephone support and a lifetime warranty on all machine parts.
Fast Grind requires no maintenance or calibration and is friendly to the user and the bottom line thanks to its diamond-impregnated fining pads that can be used up to 500 times before needing replacement. The three-pad process is simple to understand, and within three hours of training, users can become expert at its operation. Fast Grind boasts a breakeven of one pair of progressives per day. Digital-quality progressives can be produced for as little as $15 per pair. Fast Grind has also been approved as an “in-house” lab by EyeMed, which allows jobs to be surfaced and finished using the Fast Grind system and a qualifying edger.
FREE-FORM MINI LAB
If you already have traditional surfacing equipment, you may be able to retrofit some of it to help reduce the total cost of your new in-house lab. Coburn Technologies offers complete systems that can be tailor made to meet your specific equipment needs. If you have conventional lens cylinder machines, you can integrate the LaunchPad free-form application, which permits you to use your old cylinder machines for the polishing of free-form lenses.
Paired with the Cobalt-LTE generator and the alloy-free E2G blocker, you have a powerful free-form lab in a small footprint, only requiring about 20 sq. ft. of space. Coburn’s precise mist-cut technology is environmentally friendly and does not require a water management set-up to operate in-house. Keeping expansion in mind, the system can be upgraded as you grow, and the mini lab can produce lenses from +7.00D to -20.00D, with 10.00D of cylinder and 10.00D of prism.
Requiring only three compact work stations, Satisloh’s Micro-Line lens production system addresses your in-house free-form lens needs. The small set-up is intuitive to use, relies on hands-free bar code scanning to help with pace and organization and can be converted to operate with either alloy or On-Block Manufacturing (OBM) materials. This modular system is compatible with other Satisloh units and can be expanded over time as you grow. Using the manual ART Blocker-M, job tickets are scanned, and the blocker requests job data from the LMS system. If no LMS system is available, it can be used as a stand-alone unit.
Another option is using pre-blocked OBM lenses. After a lens is blocked, the VFT-micro generator is used to create your prescription lens. With options for generating round or oval lens diameters, an MCD turning tip works as a computer-controlled lathe to place the lens prescription along the backside. Next, a manually attached engraving tip mechanically engraves lens markings to the backside of the lens. The final step involves the Micro-FLEX soft tool polisher, which requires only three different tools in order to cover a wide range of prescription processing.
OPTEK OASIS MAX
Optek offers the Oasis MAX system to provide complete surfacing and finishing capability for all plastic, polycarbonate, high index and Trivex lenses. This system requires six primary stations to make a lens and can be installed in spaces as small as 100 sq. ft. It can accommodate brand name lenses across a broad range of prescriptions and is fully driven by the LensMate Lab software. This proprietary software serves as the brain that calculates all optical computations, creates tracking information for the order and prints a corresponding job ticket to match all the prescription and tooling data needed along the way.
After taping, the first stop is the Unity MAX blocker, where the lens is properly aligned and bonded to the block. This can be achieved with either wax or alloy. Once blocked, the lens continues to the Contour MAX for generating the prescription, including prism, auto-cribbing and edge safety beveling of the lens. Next up are the lap tools and cylinder machines. The Criterion MAX relies on highly durable and accurate lap tools that are designed to hold up with precise accuracy throughout their life. The Criterion surface cylinder machines feature a patented circular planetary motion for true axis accuracy. After polishing, the lens is de-blocked and ready for final inspection and edging. What really stands out is how each station is networked to an Rx server, featuring microprocessor control at every stop along the way. This technology helps eliminate the human element, reducing remakes and increasing profits.
Imagine the buzz that your office would create if you were able to create and deliver an anti-reflective (AR) pair of progressives for a patient within mere minutes from completing their purchase. This vision can be a reality with the Q-2100 digital lens system from Optical Dynamics. This user-friendly casting system allows you to create pristine optical-quality lenses in as little as 30 minutes without AR and 90 minutes with. What really makes this unique is there is no grinding or polishing, and all lenses are cast from a pre-formed mold to create the finished prescription. The operator uses computer-driven software to select the most optimum crown glass lens molds for the prescription entered. Next the lens molds are teamed with a gasket assembly to create a sealed environment for the filling of a liquid high index lens material to be carefully poured in slowly to ensure the highest optical clarity. This high index lens material is available in clear as well as several optional photochromic colors.
The lenses are then placed through a curing and hardening process, and with the Q-2100-compatible add-on NanoCLEAR system, you could even apply AR and mirror coatings. These coatings are applied through a scientific system that relies on bonding to the nanoparticles of the lens layers to create a super durable and high quality finished lens surface.
You can reduce your lab bill by as much as 50% to 70%, gain control of the quality of the lenses you are dispensing and manage the lens cost too, according to Optical Dynamics. As an added option for those who are thinking bigger, Optical Dynamics also offers a high-volume automated M-5000 lens coater that can combine nicely with the Q-2100 lens system.
Frank Gimbel is an advanced certified optician and owner of Gimbel Eye Associates in Wayne, PA.
WHERE TO FIND IT:
Augen Optics 866.284.3611 • augenoptics.com
Optical Dynamics • 800.797.2743 • opticaldynamics.com