With the advanced technology now being offered in optical equipment, it’s the best time to indulge in a finishing lab makeover.
I recently sold my beloved 10-year-old German sports sedan. There was nothing particularly wrong with it. I had kept it up well and it still was a hoot to drive, even if it was starting to look a bit dated. So why did I sell it and buy a new car? In a word—technology. Modern automotive technology gives me better gas mileage with more power, a number of new safety features, an interactive navigation system, and features that let me play music from my iPod

Super Systems’ Auto Lensmeter with a built-in printer measures PDs, segment heights, lens diameters, and UV transmission.

and use my cell phone. These and several other features make my driving experience safer and more enjoyable.

What I’m leading up to with all this is a question for you: Is your finishing lab in the same boat as my 10-year-old car—adequate but not up to your current needs and wants? If so, it’s probably time to consider replacing it.

Let’s begin at the same place you start at when processing the lenses, the lensometer. Today’s lens measuring instruments are a far cry from the trusty old AO 650B you bought used when you first set up your shop. With the recent advances in ophthalmic lenses, it’s more important than ever to accurately determine all the optical characteristics of these lenses.

Two popular autolensometers are the CL200 Computerized Lensmeter from Topcon Medical Systems, Inc. and the Auto Lensmeter from Super Systems Optical. The CL-200 measures lens power in 0.01D, 0.12D, and 0.25D increments, and can measure PDs as well. Topcon also offers the EZ-200 Advance Automatic Lens Analyzer, a sophisticated and easy-to-use instrument that features automated lens measurement including segment heights and lens diameters. Super Systems’ Auto Lensmeter with a built-in printer measures lens power in 0.01D, 0.12D, and 0.25D increments. It also measures PDs, segment heights, lens diameters, and UV transmission through the lens.

When we move on past the lensometer, we’ve already come to a fork in the road: Should your remodeled finishing lab feature one of the newer “multifunction” machines or the more traditional systems that have a separate frame tracer, layout blocker, and edger? This question can be answered using two considerations: how much room you have in your finishing lab and how many pairs you process a day. If you’re short on space and only do perhaps three to five pairs a day, then a machine that includes all those functions in one unit is probably your best choice; it’s usually a bit slower than using separate components but is more than adequate for a lab that does just a few pairs a day.

It’s also sometimes a misnomer to call these machines “all-in-one” as many of them are actually two pieces of equipment: a combination tracer layout blocker and the edger itself. Even if it is in two pieces, it still works as one integrated unit. Innovative lens edging systems are available from Santinelli International, Inc. and Coburn Technologies.
Santinelli offers a variety of innovative lens edging systems.
What I call the “linear approach” to a finishing lab occurs when an eyecare professional (ECP), who has the necessary space to properly house the various pieces of equipment, processes more than five pairs a day. Where possible, I think it is best for this kind of office to use the same brand or line of machines for lens processing up to and including edging. For example, AIT Industries offers a variety of machines that meet industry communication standards. This allows AIT’s lab equipment to work seamlessly with third-party software and helps offices integrating dispensing devices with lab equipment in the backroom. The overall result is to rapidly and accurately fabricate a pair of eyeglasses.
National Optronics machines have a well-deserved reputation for accurately “talking” to each other and thus avoiding those hidden gremlins that pop up sometimes during the tracing /blocking/edging cycles. Nearly all of the newer high-tech edgers provide lens drilling and grooving plus different levels of edge polishing or other edge and bevel treatments. These qualities alone make a huge difference in the time spent by the ECP and can increase the quality of the eyewear produced.
THE CARE AND CLEANING OF… As a teenager, I had an entry-level position at a surface lab “runnin’ cylinders.” The machines I worked with had a tendency to break down. When that occurred, you got out the toolbox, tore the machine down, repaired whatever was ailing it, and reassembled same. This illustrates the downside to the newer high-tech side of optical equipment. It’s just about impossible for the practitioner or a technician to do any sort of work on modern machines other than cleaning and perhaps some other servicing recommended in the owner’s manual. Thus, if a piece of equipment does go down, you’ll no doubt have to call in a service technician to make things right. This could take time and possibly cost some money to boot. But I’ll still take the modern technology any day over those old cylinder machines!
High-tech edger systems and lensometers might get all the spotlight because of their advanced technology, but lens tinting units also have some pretty nifty updated features.

Today’s lens tinting units are comprised of state-of-the art tinting machines and dyes tailored for just about any tinting needs. Brain Power Inc. (BPI) developed some of the first dyes designed specifically for plastic lenses and they’ve remained on the cutting edge of this technology with increasingly versatile and effective dyes and machines. BPI’s Turbo Tinter machines use microprocessor temperature monitoring and a unique infrared heating system to ensure fast, even tinting on any plastic lens material.

Phantom Research Laboratories, Inc. is another manufacturer who has embraced many aspects of new technology with their Optisafe Digital Super Tinter. Each tint tank has independent heat controls with a temperature probe located in the dye itself. The dye is kept at its proper concentration by a variable speed stirring system and the tanks have specially designed split lids so the lenses can be immersed in the dye without removing the lid.
Without question, a replacement of your finishing lab equipment can be a pretty pricey undertaking. But if, like that 10-year-old car I recently sold, your existing lab is only “adequate” and your commitment to produce a quality product in a reasonable period of time is real, you should consider doing it—you’ll be amazed at the expanded and enhanced results you’ll obtain with your new equipment.

Larry Guess is a consultant to the optical industry and designer of new optical tools.

Each tint tank in Phantom’s Optisafe Digital Super Tinter has independent heat controls with a temperature probe located in the dye itself.


AIT Industries
800-729-1959 • aitindustries.com

Brain Power, Inc. (BPI)
800-327-2250 • callbpi.com

Coburn Technologies
800-262-8761 • coburntechnologies.com

National Optronics
800-866-5640 • nationaloptronics.com

Phantom Research Laboratories, Inc.
800-225-5559 • phantomresearch.com

Santinelli International, Inc.
800-644-3343 • santinelli.com

Super Systems Optical
800-543-7376 • superoptical.com

Topcon Medical Systems, Inc.
800-223-1130 • topconmedical.com


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