The Latest Headlines in Finishing

By Julie Bos
The only thing constant in life is change.” We’ve all heard this quote before and nowhere is it more true than in the complex—and expanding—world of optical technology. Investigate new lens finishing equipment, for example, and you’ll quickly learn why.

Finishing, drilling, grooving, beveling, edging and polishing…the list of functions performed by modern edgers is staggering. All indications are that the time- and labor-saving innovations will keep coming.

To help ensure your lab remains up-to-date on the latest edging breakthroughs, we’ve assembled the major announcements from a variety of edging manufacturers — all in one place. What’s more, you’ll hear from optical labs that have been using these products, so you can benefit from their real-world impressions.

ES-4 Industrial Edger from Satisloh

Satisloh’s latest release is the versatile ES-4, the first industrial edger with in-chamber drilling and the ability to process B measurements as small as 18.5 mm. Its new design features a reduced shaft diameter, combined with a proprietary blocking chuck—giving it the capability to process these previously unattainable dimensions. Further increasing its versatility is the optional in-chamber variable angle drilling. Using a variety of inputs from the lab’s host system via a VCA conforming data interface, the machine can replicate a provided angle or automatically calculate the optimal drilling angle to produce the most effective mounting position.

What Labs Are Saying . . .

“The ES4 is a major improvement over the ES3,” said Bob Pommier, director of lab operations at Expert Optics in Shorewood, Ill. “We’ve had good success with the ES-4. The greatest improvements were being able to edge lenses with a small B measurement,” he added. “We were able to edge lenses as small as 18mm vertically, and there was a noticeable improvement in the speed of the edger—about 20 percent faster than the ES3 edger. The drilling capability has shown good success, too. All these enhancements add up to helping labs become more efficient and able to produce more work than the ES3. Plus, the ability to edge smaller B measurement frames allows more jobs to be edged robotically.”

Kappa D Edging System from Gerber Coburn

Consisting of the Kappa CTD edger and the standard Kappa Tracer, the new feature-rich Kappa D edging system enables labs to perform tracing, shape modification, edging, polishing, grooving/chamfering and drilling coordination. Gerber Coburn’s new system also allows jobs to be stored in memory at the tracer, and the two-way video-viewing system allows for manual centering and automatic blocking.

What Labs Are Saying . . .

“We purchased the Kappa D edging system last December, and it’s working great for us,” said Jim Meade, lab manager at Brown’s Optical in Simsbury, Conn. “The specific feature we were most interested in was its ability to drill rimless, since we didn’t have this capability before. We were drilling lenses with a jig by hand, which is a slower process and not nearly as accurate.”

“The new edger is faster and provides more capacity than our older system [the Kappa Edger], which we’ve had about six years,” he added. “Not only did we need more capacity, we also needed a second edger to use as a backup. Now, our entire process is faster because we have two edgers.”

“I’m also impressed with the edger’s new software, which allows us to modify the shape,” he said. “Plus, both the tracer and edger have been upgraded since the previous model—they both have much brighter screens and are easier to see. In our opinion, Gerber Coburn edgers are top shelf, which is why we bought a second one. Our first one has performed nearly flawlessly and we’re expecting the same out of this one. So far, it has delivered.”

Helix (Lens Machining Center) from National Optronics

National Optronics’ latest system is the Helix Lens Machining Center, an all-in-one machining center that’s capable of edging today’s lenses from simple to complex frame shapes. Its features include: •5-axis edging – An articulating bevel and drilling process provides the best quality and fit for even the most difficult shapes, as well as lens milling.

•Lens milling – Makes otherwise non-Rx-able lenses suitable in difficult but fashionable sport frames. •Multi-cutting tools – Houses seven tools for multi-task edging and programing additional tools for complete edging capabilities. •Lateral drilling – Improves drilling capabilities with the ability to drill into the lens edge.

What Labs Are Saying . . .

“We’ve had this system for about six months and provided an ‘early look’ evaluation to National Optronics,” said John Sutherlin, lab owner at Sutherlin Optical in Kansas City, Mo. “We’ve used it to cut a lot of special shapes, as well as to do normal edging. In fact, that’s one of the main advantages of this equipment—its ability to do these abnormal or complex shapes—and it’s doing the job very well.”

“Five-axis edgers are relatively new to the market and the Helix is the first five-axis edger used by Sutherlin Optical,” he said. “The Helix enables us to tilt the lens and apply angled bevels, plus the Helix enables us to cut more than one shape on a single lens. We’ve had fun experimenting with different frame and lens combinations. Because the frame manufacturers have been two steps ahead of the optical laboratories in developing frames, there has been a great need for equipment like the Helix for prescription lenses. It’s amazing to me that our industry has waited this long to put the power of a five axis in the hands of operators who have been using Dremel drills, files or whatever they could think of in an attempt to meet the demands of the market place.”

“With the Helix, we can load seven different cutting/polishing tools into the machine at one time,” he added. “Other key features include the Helix’s ability to cut extremely thick lenses with ease and the compact design of the edger. Like many labs, we simply don’t have the space that’s required for the other five-axis edgers on the market.”

“Before we got the LMC Industrial Eder, there were a lot of jobs we simply had to turn away because we couldn’t do them,” he said. “This edger has definitely increased our ability to create prescription lenses for frames that were impossible before. It just has fewer limitations than any conventional edger we’ve owned before.”

ME-1000 Design + Lens Edger from Santinelli International

Santinelli International recently released its high-base curve technology in two additional lens edger models. The same patented beveling process that premiered in the Lex 1000 Lens Edger is now available on the company’s ME-1000 Design+ Lens Edger and SE-9090 Express+ Industrial Lens Edger. This technology offers the best bevel profile for high-curved lenses by processing the front and back bevel independently.

What Labs Are Saying . . .

“I’ve had the ME-1000 for about a year and it’s helping to drive new levels of efficiency in our lab,” said Lloyd Yazbek, owner of Central Optical in Youngstown, Ohio.“It may not be the fastest machine in the world, but it’s certainly one of the most accurate. It has a variety of features that most edgers don’t have—it can drill; it can groove; and it comes with new software that enables you to do higher base curves and wraps. Those are pretty standout features on the instrument.”

“Plus, we can do fancy lens designs that most edgers can’t do,” he added. “Essentially, we can create a design and put it on the edger and cut the lens to whatever design we’ve created—and that’s not a feature you can find just anywhere. All these features make this product unique.”

“Because of the accuracy, this machine is also helping us save money,” he said. “When we’re drilling a job, we don’t have to worry about drilling off-axis or not putting the drill exactly where we put the coordinates—so from that standpoint, it allows us to be more accurate. That means a lot fewer mistakes and a lot less spoilage.”


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August/September LabTalk 2017