The Turbo Tinter 4 from BPI features four 1.5-liter tanks.

Tinting lenses is one of the most profitable dispensary services you can offer. If you’re thinking about adding it to your office’s services or replacing your current unit, the following guidelines should help in your decision-making.

If you are considering adding a piece of tinting equipment, carefully consider how much space you are willing to give to the equipment and what kind of features are important to you. As you list the features and benefits of the equipment available, you’ll find a solution that is best suited to your needs and to your practice. Here are a few questions you may want to ask when buying tinting equipment:
• How much space do I have?
• How many colors will I carry?
• Does it require heat transfer fluid or is it a system that uses water?
• What types of accessories will I need with the equipment?
• How much time will be required to maintain the equipment on a daily basis? On a monthly basis?
• Does it offer temperature control features? Stirring features?

Determine how many colors should be available for use, as well as how much counter space you have. Tinting equipment comes in a variety of sizes from super small to large. For example, Phantom Research Laboratories, Inc.’s OptiSafe Digital Super Tinter has a single-qt. heat tank while the Turbo Tinter 4 from Brain Power Inc. (BPI) features four 1.5-liter tanks that are each slightly larger than a quart. Inland Diamond Products’ Space Saver 6 Pot Tint Unit uses six 1-qt. pans while the 9-Pan Water Based Tint System from OptiSource International has nine tanks for the practice that wants to have more color options simultaneously. With some systems you can start small and grow into more color options as you add additional vats and tanks.

Hilco’s 9-Place Lens Tinting System has lids to help minimize evaporation and reduce energy costs.
One important aspect of tinting lens is the temperature of the dyes in your equipment. Many of today’s tinting units use computer technology that keeps the units 1º or 2º within the set temperature. When optimal temperature conditions are present in dyes, it facilitates darker colors in a shorter amount of time, and helps your dyes last longer. Some manufacturers address this by using temperature probes in each tank to monitor the dye’s temperature. Phantom’s Vortex Digital Tinter 4 does this by combining four accurate digital “auto-tuning” temperature controllers that display both a desired temperature that you have set as well as the actual temperature of the solution on an LED display for each tank. A probe located in each tank also helps avoid messy boilovers when tint solutions become too hot. It is also detachable to make it easy to remove the vat for cleaning.

Another way to help maintain the temperature of your solutions is to purchase tinting equipment that features hinged lids for each vat. This will allow you to keep a lid on solutions you are not using while maintaining their temperature better by not being exposed to the cooler room temperature and will also help minimize evaporation and reduce energy costs. Hilco’s 9-Place Lens Tinting System can assist as can many others.


Tinting equipment comes with a couple of options when heating the dye tanks: ones that have the heating element inside the tank and ones that don’t. You’ll need to decide which is right for you. Operators who use equipment that has the heating element inside the tank usually claim that it transfers and controls the heat better. Alternatively, having the heating element outside the tank can decrease the possibility of messy leaks and significantly increase the life of the heating element and the tint solution. It allows for the use of water rather than heat transfer fluid that can be costly.

Water will evaporate faster than heat transfer fluid, and so extra care will need to be taken to check the water level on a daily basis. In addition, it’s good to change the water at least monthly to decrease the chance of contamination of the unit from dye boilovers. BPI doesn’t recommend the use of water as a heat transfer medium since the tint temperature will be lower than recommended and it could damage tint unit components. Tinting units are available from Super Systems Optical Technology, Inland Diamond, BPI, and come in a wide variety of sizes and number of tanks.


Phantom’s Optisafe Digital Super Tinter has a non-stick vat.

Dyes that sit for long periods of time can break down and lessen their tinting effectiveness. Phantom’s OptiSafe Digital Super Tinter 6STR offers a variable speed stirring feature that can keep your dyes well mixed and allow for more efficient lens tinting with soft or hard tintable scratch coatings. In addition, the stirring action can eliminate the surface tension that can cause messy boilovers.

No one in the office enjoys being assigned to cleanup duty, particularly if it means scrubbing and scouring the tinting equipment vats. There are tinting machines that feature non-stick vats that can make cleanup a breeze and save time for the staff. All the tinters from Phantom (the OptiSafe Digital Super Tinter, the Vortex Digital Tinter 4, and the OptiSafe Digital Super Tinter 6STR) have this feature.

Tinting can be both fun and very profitable. Use the tips provided here to find the perfect unit for your office!

Joy L. Gibb is the owner of Eyes of Joy Mobile Optical in Woods Cross, UT.


Brain Power, Inc. (BPI)

800-327-2250 •

800-955-6544 •

Inland Diamond Products
800-347-2020 •

OptiSource International

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

Super Systems Optical
800-543-7376 •

Western Optical Supply
800-423-3294 •

TINTING ACCESSORIES In addition to maintaining an appropriate solution temperature in your tanks, you should also monitor the pH level. When the pH level becomes too high, it can become caustic and damage lens hard coatings. You will also want to keep an eye on the oxidative value of the dye’s water to prevent color shifts in your tints. Brain Power, Inc. (BPI) offers the portable PH-013M Multifunction Lab Meter that measures pH levels, oxidation reduction potential, and temperature. Using a tool like this can help reduce the frustration associated with inconsistent tint colors and damaged coatings.

You may also find yourself quite busy with patients and don’t necessarily have time to stand by your machine to hand dip gradient lenses or wait for dark lenses to achieve their full color. There are accessory machines for most dye tanks that let you clamp lenses into a holder, set a timer, and walk away while the machine does the tinting for you. Most of these devices can tint lenses with both solid and gradient colors and they use a timer so you can control how long you want the lenses to be dipped in the tinting solution. The lenses are then removed from the dye automatically so you don’t have to worry about them becoming too dark. These types of machines are available from suppliers such as Western Optical Supply Inc. and Inland Diamond.


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