|PSI offers all-material fining pads and reduced cycle polish pads in an Easy Lift design.|
|Optisource’s Snapit frame screw can be easily guided through multiple frame parts.|
|DAC expects AR supplies, such as crystals, filaments, and chemicals to grow as the demand for digital processing supplies gains ground.|
|Cerium’s EcoTint comes in a biodegradable disposable package which dissolves in the dye pot.|
Many items such as screws, pads, AR and tinting supplies can become indispensable to a busy ECP.
You know the scenario: a busy weekend afternoon in your practice and someone hands you a pair of prescription lenses to replace a screw in the frame. It should be a simple and fast task. Several minutes later, you’re holding a stripped screwdriver and an unfinished job: that too-good-to-be-true package of drivers you ordered online from an untested supplier has turned out not to be such a good deal after all and you’re not the only one regretting cutting corners.
A straw poll of suppliers and manufacturers for this article saw more items currently being sourced and made in the U. S. Sub-standard manufacturing processes performed in other countries with lower-grade materials can quickly tarnish the reputation of a manufacturer, an ECP, and a lab owner. As a result, business owners are increasingly keen to ensure constant quality from domestic sources rather than buying value bulk deals from abroad that end up costing more in replacements or, worse, returns.
Here’s a selection of small supplies and consumables that ECPs and labs regularly use, many of them made in the U.S.
NEWS OF THE SCREWS
Screws come in all dimensions, colors, styles, and threadings, not to mention a variety of screwheads as well (flathead, Phillips) and ECPs often carry a wide variety to service their patients.
Rather than retaining a space-consuming inventory for every eventuality however, Western Optical Supply Inc.’s president Joshua Freilich highlights his company’s Quikfix rivets and companion Shootout tool. In a 30-second procedure, this one-size-fits-all rivet (available in three finishes), neatly fits the screw hole, dispensing with the time-consuming-and possibly futile-hunt for the correct screw. “It’s a big convenience for ECPs,” notes Freilich, adding that a large screw inventory “ties up a lot of capital.” The savings in materials, space, and ECP’s time, make Western Optical’s rivet an attractive option.
But there is plenty of life yet in the humble screw. OptiSource International recently signed a manufacturing licensing agreement with Eyeego, inventors and manufacturers of the Snapit frame screw (the screw has a rod-like extension which allows it to be easily guided, then threaded, through multiple frame parts and then snapped off). Snapits come in a range of colors, sizes, and styles and, according to Daryl Squicciarini, president of OptiSource, which had already been the item’s exclusive distributor for the past five years, “The design and utility of Snapit represents the largest leap in frame-screw technology.” OptiSource’s immediate plans include expanding the Snapit family and adding more colors, sizes, and head finishes to the range.
IN THE LAB
Although they seem antiquated now, pattern blanks are still sold and there are a lot of older machines across the country that function perfectly well: Coburn Technologies, Inc.’s Rockets and AIT Industries’ Grande Mark and 501 models are examples of machines that were built to last. Western Optical still sells a slow but steady stream of blanks to customers who have this equipment.
On the edging front, DAC Vision’s award-winning products include its AdvantEdge™, BluEdge™, SecurEdge‘, RedEdge™, and HydroEdge™ pads. DAC recently introduced AutoMate™, its new robotic edging pad for high-production, automated equipment. All edging pads are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes and cover hydrophobic, super-hydrophobic, and oleophobic applications. DAC also carries a line of fining pads for every lens material: CR-39‘, mid-index, high-index, polycarbonate, Trivex‘ material, and glass/mineral lenses. Each lens category accommodates abrasive and backing options for a one- or two-step fining process, bare lap, or base pad system.
Digital processing supplies have gained ground on conventional processing supplies in the abrasive and velveteen pad categories. According to Al Bednar, DAC Vision’s area manager, demand for digital processing consumables will surge for the foreseeable future. Eventually digital will become the standard for lens processing and DAC is expecting increased demand for its range of cutting and polishing tools, allied with its polishes DigitALL™ and Quattro™ Pro. In addition, Bednar says, AR supplies, including crystals, filaments, crucible liners, chemicals, and hydrophobic pills, will grow as this category increases.
PADS ON THE MOVE
Practical Systems, Inc. (PSI) has seen an increase in sales of all material fining pads, says Karen Gillen, director of marketing. Labs need only inventory one pad for all their fining. PSI offers several all-material fining pads, such as its Red Revolution, and reduced cycle time polish pads, like the Yellow Ultimate or Pink Perfection, thus allowing for faster throughput. These pads are available in an “Easy Lift” design format for base pad systems as well as standard for bare tools. Other suppliers say that sales of fining and polish pads are going down because of new digital equipment but the decline is gradual due to the number of labs still using conventional equipment.
SureLock hydrophobic gripping discs from PSI are used under blocking pads to help prevent torquing while edging slick lenses. Because there are so many different lens coatings on the market that are making it hard to edge without slipping, the SureLock discs have been gaining widespread acceptance, thus allowing labs to use any type of blocking pad and still reduce their slippage and reworks.
The patented chemistry in PSI’s Free-Form AR Polish not only works with both digital and conventional processes but is recommended for all lens materials and is compatible with all AR and hardcoatings. It offers quick stock removal and reduced cycle times for high throughput.
DEMAND FOR TINTS?
By their nature tints come in and go out of style. Some suppliers, like OptiSource, have noted a decline. However, with fashion trending toward the “˜70s once more, we could perhaps be set for another golden era of tinted lenses. Just look at the yellow tints worn by Christian Bale in the movie, American Hustle.
Cerium Optical Products purchased a button-dying factory so that it could make its own dyes, and it now creates its own formula for Cerium Visual Technologies, which treats dyslexia, epilepsy, and migraine sufferers through a range of tints and lens finishes. Cerium has also developed a unique delivery system: its EcoTint comes in a biodegradable disposable package which dissolves in the dye pot.
Whatever your need for supplies such as these, there’s no doubt that the quality of home-grown products is more superior now than ever before.
Paul Power is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City.
WHERE TO FIND IT:
Cerium Optical Products (USA) Inc.
877-239-7002 • ceriumoptical.com
800-800-1550 • dacvision.com
800-OPTISOURCE • 1-800-optisource.com
Practical Systems Inc. (PSI)
800-237-8154 • looktopsi.com
Western Optical Supply Inc.
800-423-3294 • westernoptical.com