AR...NO BETTER TIME TO JUMP IN

By Julie Bos

Whether you’re considering in-house AR coating for the first time or have been doing it for years, the world of AR coating is continually evolving—with new advancements taking shape all the time. If your optical lab is looking for new ways to capitalize on this lucrative service offering, there’s no better time to jump in.

A handful of new AR coating machines, upgrades and formulations are now available, and may provide the perfect nudge to get you started during 2013. Consider these latest market additions as you weigh your AR coating options.

 

NEW AR COATING EQUIPMENT AND FEATURES

For Large Labs

Enhancements to the Syrus 1350—Leybold Optics

Leybold Optics’ largest AR coating machine, the Syrus 1350, is one of the most productive in its class and has now been enhanced with two new features. One is WLP (white light photometer) optical monitoring for even higher-consistency coating runs for sunglassess. The second enhancement is in-chamber flipping of lenses to reduce lens handling. For more details, visit www.leyboldoptics.com.


1200DLSatisloh

The newly released 1200DLX is a large-capacity machine capable of coating 140 lenses per cycle. Optimized for tighter vacuum integrity, the 1200DLX enables a faster pump down-time to get into process faster. This, along with full dome capabilities, expands the capacity to 200+ lenses per cycle. For more information contact Satisloh at www.satisloh.com

 

For Small to Midsize Labs

Chemalux AR-300—Chemat Vision

Chemat Vision recently released its upgraded Chemalux AR-300 coating equipment for its CTC-300 free-form lab, which is specifically designed for optical labs. The lens blanks have the AR coating on the front sides; and the antireflection coating is deposited on the digitally generated back surface of the lens blank before deblocking using the upgraded Chemalux AR-300. The advantages of this upgraded feature are minimized AR coating steps, reduced AR coating costs and shorter turnaround times. For more product information, visit www.chematvision.com or call (818) 727-9786.

 

OAC 25 AR Coater—Coburn Technologies

About a year ago, Coburn released the latest and most innovative model of its high-performance AR coating systems, the OAC 25. Specifically designed for lower-volume environments that require the widest variety of AR coating options in the smallest available footprint, the OAC 25 is the first true retail, ion-assisted vacuum deposition AR coating system. For space-restrained labs, the OAC 25 is more than 30 percent smaller than competitive systems and offers a very small in-lab footprint.

“The OAC 25 is easily the most unique AR coating system in the world,” stated Curt Brey, vice president marketing and business development. “Offering a low cost of ownership and a more reasonable cost of entry, the new OAC 25 is popular with anyone working in or considering development of an AR business. The OAC 25 is truly innovative in that it uses proven vacuum deposition technology, instead of sputter or chemical deposition techniques, allowing it to deliver unmatched AR quality in a size never available before.” For more information, visit www.coburntechnologies.com or call 1-800-COBURN-1.

 

Mini Coating System (MCS)—Leybold Optics

In addition to the company’s offerings for larger labs, Leybold Optics is launching its newest AR machine for smaller labs at Vision Expo East 2013. The company’s advanced technology is now available in the most compact platform on the market today. The MCS complements Leybold Optics’ existing equipment portfolio with an ever-lower priced entry point for small labs with lower production needs.

The MCS can apply AR coating to five pairs of lenses per run on both sides, on edged or uncut lenses, thanks to an innovative lens flip-over mechanism. Even with its compact design, this machine delivers all the latest technology, such as ion-assisted deposition, in-chamber hydrophobic, electron beam gun, a turbo-pumping system and intelligent software. All of this is designed to apply a high-quality AR coating, in any lens material with green or blue reflection color, standard hydrophobic, super hydrophobic layer, mirror coating, or spin-coated or dip-coated lenses.

 The MCS’s small size allows installation in very small labs with 200 to 250 square feet (or even less). The MCS platform can be combined with Leybold’s turnkey lab packages, MicroLab with spin-coating or dip-coating solutions. With its latest technology and low entry cost, the MCS is well suited for retail chains and small-to-midsize labs alike, while presenting an excellent choice for labs looking to bring AR capacity in-house.

 

Fusion-M—Quantum Innovations

The Fusion-M In-Line Coating System is the newest innovation from Quantum Innovations. Referred to as a “disruptive technology,” the Fusion-M is poised to redefine the coating process in the ophthalmic industry. It provides the ultimate flexibility of applying a process on one lens at a time, thanks to the revolutionary in-line coating process. For example, a lab could apply AR on the front of a lens and a completely different process on the back; then on the next lens, apply mirror coating on the front and AR on the back. This allows a lab to process any coating request without the need to wait until enough orders have accumulated to fill a large batch. Another unique feature of the Fusion-M is its quick startup and shutdown time. Production can begin less than seven minutes after powering the machine on. In addition to faster start times, this also allows the Fusion-M to be more efficient and requires far less energy consumption, which may provide additional cost savings.  Fusion-M also offers fast cycle time and a micro batch size, which can dramatically reduce WIP and inventory, increase production on a per-SKU basis, increase flexibility in coating colors offered (as the process can be changed for each fixture) and reduce product loss in the case of outside interference (e.g., power loss). For more product details, visit www.Qtmi.net.

 

SP200, Micro Lab and MC380X—Satisloh

For small to midsize labs, Satisloh recently expanded its COB (Coating on the Block) technology into its Micro Lab concept with the already proven platform of the SP200 sputter coating system. The SP200 is a compact system geared to produce one to two pairs of lenses at a time in a 10-minute cycle. This system also lends itself to the pre-AR front-side coated lenses and OBM (On the Block Manufacturing).

The MC380X is a midsize box coater capable of producing 200 jobs per day and features a batch coating system capable of coating 60 lenses per cycle. For additional details, visit www.satisloh.com.

 

New AR Coating  Formulations

Perhaps your lab is already enjoying the benefits of doing AR coating in-house—or maybe you’re thinking seriously about adding this service to your mix. In either case, it pays to know about the latest AR coating formulations available. Here are two to consider:

 

Stainless LUV AR Coating—iCoat

Responding to research studies about Anti-Reflective treatments causing slightly elevated UV reflections, iCoat has introduced a new AR coating with advanced UV reflection protection—called Stainless LUV. Stainless LUV features low UV technology that eliminates significant amounts of UV light reflected off the back-surface of the lens. Therefore, this coating provides maximum UV reflection protection while maintaining maximum visible light transmission for clear, crisp vision. For more information contact iCoat at 562-941-9989.

 

Retinal Bliss Technology (RB Tech)—Quantum Innovations

Because the ophthalmic industry continues to grow in its understanding and knowledge of the damaging effects caused by UVA and HEV (High Energy Visible Light) spectrums, Quantum Innovations developed a brand new AR coating solution to protect against these dangers—a solution called RB Tech. Most lens treatments reflect UV and HEV rays from the backside of the eyeglass lens into the wearer’s eyes. However, RB Tech coating reduces the amount of reflected UVA and HEV rays by up to 95 percent when compared to non-UV AR coatings. RB Tech coatings have one of the highest levels of light transmission of any commercially available AR coating. Plus, RB Tech can be installed in most types of coating equipment.

In addition, Quantum can help labs with older AR equipment compete in today’s market by upgrading their coating processes. In many cases, premium processes can be installed with no equipment modification. To learn more, call (888) 268-3414.

 

Ready to Get Started? Consider These AR Partners

Are you a smaller or independent optical lab that’s interested in bringing AR in-house or branding your own customized formula? If so, you’ll need to partner with a company that can provide the AR coatings you need. In addition to large partners, such as Carl Zeiss Vision www.vision.zeiss.com and Essilor www.essilorusa.com, there are a number of smaller companies that can provide a variety of customized AR formulations that you can customize and brand yourself. Here are a few to consider: 

  • iCoat: www.icoatcompany.com or (562) 941-9989 
  • Leybold Optics: Contact George Kim, President, at (919) 657-7100 or George.Kim@leyboldoptics.com 
  • Quantum Innovations: Email sales@Qtmi.net or call (888) 268-3414

WHY PRIVATE BRANDING MAKES SENSE FOR SMALL AND INDEPENDENT LABS
Private branding of AR coating can add up to big profits for optical labs, because it incorporates lower manufacturing costs and little or no R&D investment. In-house AR coating enables labs to control the quality and service levels of AR coating, thereby offering high-quality products with more confidence. Manufacturing premium AR coating in-house helps lower costs, increase profit margins and generate higher overall revenue. Bringing AR in-house can also potentially reduce delivery times to help create happier, more profitable and confident customers. What’s not to love?
HOW DOES IT WORK? AN OVERVIEW OF ICOAT’S PRIVATE BRANDING PLAN
iCoat’s Technology Licensing Division offers a licensing program enriched with technological expertise and process know-how, making it easy for virtually any size operation to replicate iCoat’s lens treatment technology at their own location. This program is a turnkey plan for a successful in-house AR operation that allows working with any coating equipment supplier and any lens manufacturer, affording customers true independence and negotiation power when buying equipment or lenses. The program provides everything from initial planning and facility layout to ongoing support, backup coating services and optional retail AR training courses. The program has three phases:

  • Phase 1: Planning and layout – iCoat works with you on facility layout, workflow design, the establishment of standard operating procedures and finance preparations. This phase also includes integration of lab management tracking stations and staff-level planning and recommendations.
  • Phase 2: Production and training – This phase includes schedule rollout, setup and formulation, going live with production and hands-on on-site production training. iCoat also provides classroom training and training via live video streams to ensure efficient and smooth operations.
  • Phase 3: Ongoing and backup services – The final phase offers ongoing services and quarterly process and workflow audits to ensure smooth running of coating operations. Also included in this phase is live technical support, tutorials for troubleshooting and coating backup services.

Having a successful and thriving in-house AR business is controlled by three components—having confidence in the AR product you’re offering, having efficient manufacturing operations and a vigilantly analyzed financial plan. Finding the perfect blend of all three is where in-house AR success begins.


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May/June LabTalk 2017