Optical Lab Products

MAR 2014

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FEATURE FINISHING 8 march 2014 totallyoptical.com Multi-Axis Edging Finds a Market BY JIM GROOTEGOED The future of multi-axis edging is here. OLP takes a look at what's on tap at Vision Expo East. WHEN I ASKED a friend at a recent convention what he found interesting, he said: "I just spent more money on an edger than I did for my frst generator!" Ophthalmic processing labs have jumped in with both feet when it comes to advances in surfacing. Three-axis generating came frst from Gerber Coburn (now known as Coburn Technologies, Inc.) and was then followed by multi-axis generating technology from Satisloh North America, Inc. and Schneider Optical Machines, Inc., as well as from Coburn. OptoTech Optical Machinery Inc. is also now offering multi-axis solutions with several installations in the U.S. Automation has become standard from blocking to surface inspection. Yet, in the past, most of a lab's labor expense and breakage was in fnishing. One equipment manufac- turer from Italy, MEI s.r.l, jumped in to fll the void in fnishing in 2004 with an unconventional, highly sophisticated, multi-axis technology for edging solutions. This technology is cost-effective, the quality superior, and shapes and sizes unimaginable are now commonplace. Since then, MEI has released improvements, smaller, larger, and more sophisticated, but the com- petitors have been slow to respond. As one competitor lamented to me recently, MEI "owns the market." However, that is now about to change as fve formidable offerings will show or debut at Vision Expo East this month. SATISLOH The growth from Helix to the current iteration of Satisloh's ES Curve has been frustrating and torturous but the result was apparently worth the growing pains. The ES Curve today is an honorable option for any lab desiring multi-axis technology. It has evolved from a concept to an honest industrial edger. The whole guts of the machine have been changed and upgraded from the initial product. For example, it now uses Bosch controllers which are known to be fast, precise, and reliable. The software design team is now also based in the U.S. It is essentially American-made: service and problem solving are local…and very responsive. The ES Curve is a 5-axis edger providing precise articulated bevels, grooving, and drilling. Additionally, it polishes bevels, fats, and "unusual" design shapes. All the things you would expect from an industrial edger. The frame editor allows you to create and cut anything you can imagine though, like others, it requires an input technician with experience in both edging and computers. I constantly refer back to Mike Sutherlin's (owner of Suther- lin Optical Lab) quote from a couple of years ago, "I might be the world's worst artist…I need help drawing a straight line…but this software allows me to be a Michelangelo!" The ES Curve integrates a roughing cut that greatly reduces strain on the lens particularly with the super-hydrophobic lenses. The spindle speed increases and consistently follows the circumfer- ence around 360˚ of the lens even if decentered with no jumps to unnecessarily torque the lens. I spoke to Bill Harding, president and co-owner (with Greg Dallas) of LensTech Optical Lab, Inc. Their lab does about 400 jobs a day with 95% fnished. They knew they had to upgrade from the National Optronics 6e and 7e and AIT Indus- tries Inc.'s Maxima patternless edger that they were using. They researched all alternatives including other multi-axis edgers and in the summer of 2012 they made the plunge with the ES Curve. "One of the deciding factors in purchasing the ES Curve was frank- ly that the service tech lived locally. Plus, John Sutherlin and others had paved the way so that we weren't the frst kids on the block," Harding says. As a result the installation was relatively painless. "It's lightyears faster than conventional edgers and can accurately edge even the most diffcult wraps," Harding adds. "Wiley X frames are now easy. Oakley styles too. It's really great for sharp corners. The frame editor allows us to further sharpen corners when needed, giving us the sharpest I've ever seen. We can make anything you can imagine using the frame editor, and it's really easy using a drag-and-drop feature on the screen. Drilling is extremely Satisloh's newly reconfgured ES Curve is a 5-axis edger providing precise articu- lated bevels, grooving, and drilling. Schneider's HSC Freestyle 5-axis edger uses up to 16 onboard processing tools. OLP.Mar2014.indd 8 2/24/14 11:58 AM

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