This question must be answered once you decide to move up in the world of edging systems. The most compelling reason to purchase a modern finishing system is increased profit. With labs charging for edging, edge polishing, drilling and mounting, edging special materials, and a lot more, practices have plenty of incentive to handle their own in-house lens finishing. Here are a few ways to figure out the way to go.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Your needs and future plans will help you determine what type of edger is best for your practice. To figure this out, ask yourself the following:
1. Do I have the time to do this without compromising the time I need to spend making new eyewear sales, or will I have to pay my staff or a new lab tech to run the system? If so, will it be worth the expense?
2. Does my office have the proper amount of countertop space for this additional equipment without having to spend more money on a bigger suite?
3. Do I have the skill and patience to put some craftsmanship into this new venture, or will I get a better product from my current, full-service lab?
4. Are there environmental issues, such as noise and wastewater, that make in-house edging prohibitive?
5. Can I justify the capital outlay?
MAKE IT WORK
Any practice selling 7-10 pairs of lenses per day can make a strong argument for getting a new finishing system. Reasonably priced edging systems are now so user friendly that you can easily eliminate the skill level consideration. For instance, the new LE-700 from Santinelli International, Inc. and AIT Industries, Inc.’s Weco E.1 Perception, the latter of which utilizes Gravitech tracing technology, have advanced features that eliminate the need to hire a journeyman optician to do your lab work. Operating one of these systems is so simple that you may be tempted to hire someone with no previous vision care experience to run it. Of course, if you or someone in your office has reasonable lab skills, choosing a machine with a little less automation will save you a few thousand dollars. If you are really on a budget, see if a warrantied, factory-reconditioned, patternless edger is available.
If you have the desire to own a top-of-the-line edger with drilling/milling capabilities, such as AIT’s Weco E.6, Santinelli’s ME1200/900, Briot USA’s Attitude, Coburn Technologies, Inc.’s HPE-8000 (with optional drilling unit), or National Optronics’ 7Ex, you will be adding several thousand dollars to your capital outlay. Owning one of these systems lets you mill almost any shape conceivable, as well as produce some of the finest high-base curve wrapped lens work (step beveling) possible. This can be a very profitable venture if, and only if, you are selling a combination of about 30 drill mounts and wrapped frames per month, in addition to your regular bread-and-butter jobs.
Here is a list of must-have features when selecting a new finishing system.
1.Multi-material capability is critical. This is where the bulk of your profit margin comes from.
2. A user-friendly system is a requirement. If I can hire a young student to work the lab, I’ll save money if the system is not complicated.
3. The system must be able to cut and edge shallow “B” shaped lenses. This reduces hand finishing and provides a much better end product.
4. Rimless shape modification and management are also key factors.
5. The system needs to offer automatic edge polishing, a high-margin add-on that is easily done.
6. Wrapped, steep-curved lens edging and back-side milling, which enable you to sell high-ticket eyewear.
7. The super hydrophobic AR anti-slip setting can be done with either a milling or a slower roughing cycle.
8. Auto-grooving is a must.
9. Auto-drilling: If you have ever seen the accuracy that is possible with this feature, you were likely immediately impressed. Everything just fits the way it was meant to.
The bottom line is that you should choose a system that fits your personal needs. Ask the right questions so you don’t choose too much or too little of a system, but one that’s just right for you.
Michael Frandsen, ABOC, NCLE, is the owner of Quality Performance Ophthalmic, Inc., a custom service optical laboratory in South Jordan, UT.
WHERE TO FIND IT:
AIT Industries, Inc. (Weco) 800.729.1959 • aitindustries.com
Briot USA 800.292.7468 • briotusa.com
Coburn Technologies, Inc. 800.262.8761 • coburntechnologies.com
National Optronics 800.866.5640 • nationaloptronics.com
Santinelli International, Inc. 800.644.3343 • santinelli.com