Santinelli offers 3M’s Low Surface Energy LEAP blocking pads that are made specifically to keep hydrophobic AR lenses from slipping off axis during edging.
Presoaking lenses in a warmed lens preparation solution, like this one from BPI, will lower the lens’ surface tension and help it dye faster.
Dynamic Labs’ Eliminator is an example of an ink remover that performs nearly as well as acetone without its harmful side effects.
Make changing the edger coolant, like this one from Hilco, a religious process.

Western Optical may reproduce as needed for advertising, web and self promotion, for an unlimited time period. All use must be accompanied by photo credit © 2009 Wendy McEahern Photography. Third party use by permission of Wendy McEahern ONLY and subject to licensing fees. ALL OTHER RIGHTS RESERVED

Western Optical provides a biodegradable ultrasonic cleaning agent that removes dust, dirt, oil, and residue from lenses, bevels and spectacles.

Looking after your consumables properly will help prolong the life of your equipment.

My guess is there are a few consumable products you have a love-hate relationship with. You like them for some applications and they frustrate you for others. Why not try some of these tips?

There is not a single edger blocking pad that works best on every lens type. There are pads specifically designed for use on glass, others for basic plastic lenses, and still others that are rated superior performers on super hydrophobic AR lenses. If you were to use only the pads designed for plastic lenses, for instance, you will have a spoilage rate that is unacceptably high. It is guaranteed that you will have your glass and super hydrophobic lenses slipping off axis.

By spending 10 cents more for a pad specifically designed for super hydrophobic lenses, your spoilage rate and turnover times will be reduced when edging those lenses. Considering the extra profits that are possible with the new slippery AR lenses, the extra cost for these pads is well worth it. On the other hand, you do not want to use these super AR pads (that are double or triple the cost of basic ones) on basic plastic lenses. That would be overkill on those lenses and an unnecessary expense.


Modifying a “general use pad” with an intermediary film pad (IFP) may make sense to you as well. These add-on slip-resistant pads are a fair compromise to the more expensive readymade AR pads. The “lens side” of these pads grips firmly to super hydrophobic lenses while the reverse side bonds well to the general use blocking pad. Note, however, that adding this pad to your blocking process will add more labor time, something to consider if you are a high-volume shop. Slippage-resisting spray now on the market is also an option. These require a bit of extra time for drying prior to blocking, however, but seem to work well and are cost effective.

The next potential bottom line consumable issue to look at is lens dyeing. By following a few basic rules of successful lens tinting, this process can be a no brainer. For the investment, there is probably not another consumable that you can make more money on. In fact, the cost of labor to do lens tinting will be the biggest investment. Let’s consider a few basic rules of lens dyeing that will help you be successful without killing your payroll budget.

  1. Dissimilar brands of tintable CR-39 lenses will absorb lens dyes differently. Not only will the density of the shades vary but the hues will also. This means that, whenever possible, use the same brand and type for both right and left lenses to avoid the unnecessary time it takes to make lenses match.
  2. Thoroughly clean the lenses using the same cleaning solution for both right and left lenses. Cleaning one lens with lens spray and one lens with alcohol will result in uneven tinting.
  3. Presoak your lenses in a heated lens preparation bath. This lowers the surface tension of the lens and dyeing will occur faster.
  4. Maintain a hot dye tank. Keeping your dyes up to temperature will keep the colors truer and result in faster tint times.
  5. Stir your dyes well when tinting. You will have less of a problem with streaking if you do this regularly.
  6. If you are doing a gradient tint, try to keep bubbles from forming around the lens holder. Beautiful gradient tints are possible if you don’t let those pesky bubbles cause streaks.
  7. Change your dyes regularly. They simply do not last forever. Dyes will not only lose their original color, but they will lose their UV-absorbing properties when they go too long between changes.

As for brand loyalty, don’t be afraid to use a variety of brands to get what you like best. There may be a case where you prefer a color in one brand that is not available in another.

Next up are edger coolants. Be aware that your edger manufacturer might require you to use a specific coolant in order to keep a valid warranty. Using the recommended coolant will give your edger the best possibility of outlasting the warranty, however, being lazy and not changing the coolant before things get all plugged up will be costly and time consuming. Make changing the coolant a religious process. If you are not doing it yourself, make sure that you are giving this task to someone who will not fail to get it done. By doing this, you will prevent rust, corrosion, and swarf blockages that can ruin your expensive edging system. You will also want to be aware that there are oil-based coolants specifically designed for glass edging that will make your diamond wheels stay sharper and last longer.

When considering liquid consumables that will eventually need to be disposed of, be aware of your environmental responsibility. Know whether the products you use are biodegradable and safe to dispose of into the local sewer system or whether they require a permit for safe disposal. Environmental Protection Agency data sheets are usually sent home with every chemical you purchase. Take the time to read and understand them.

When it comes to ink removers, there are a couple of great new products that perform nearly as well as good old acetone without the harmful side effects. These ink removers are environmentally friendly and are not carcinogenic. They won’t damage delicate lens materials like polycarbonate and won’t melt acetate frames or accidentally remove the paint off metal frames. There may be times when use of acetone is necessary. But, if you use it, be sure to protect yourself with Nitrile rubber gloves and a mask. This chemical is way worse for us than was originally thought.

Having the right consumables will make your finishing operation run smoothly and maximize your profits. You can’t look at consumables as a necessary evil, rather look at them as an extra employee who doesn’t get sick or show up late to work!

Michael Frandsen is the owner of Quality Performance Ophthalmic, Inc., a custom service optical laboratory in South Jordan, UT.

CUTTING PADS TO SIZE Is your lab edging a fair amount of half-eye or shallow B measurement framed lenses? There are several pad suppliers who offer smaller pads specifically for this purpose. If your volume of smaller lens jobs is not very high, it only takes a few seconds to cut a regular sized pad down to fit a half-eye block with a pair of scissors.


Brain Power, Inc. (BPI)
800-225-5274 •

Dynamic Labs

888-339-6264 •

800-955-6544 •

Santinelli International, Inc.

800-644-3343 •

Western Optical Supply, Inc.
800-423-3294 •


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