By Judith Lee
Consumables are, by definition, meant to be consumed as part of your daily operations. You can’t avoid using them, yet this optical lab “fact of life” doesn’t have to sabotage your profitability.

To keep your consumable products cost under control, manufacturing experts recommend that lab managers institute a review of which products are ordered and why, how well the products work with other necessary products, and how the consumables are used in any particular function.

To assess your lab’s choice of consumables and measure its efficiency of use, we’ve developed a simple quiz, based on input from leading consumables manufacturers DAC Vision, Coburn Technologies, Practical Systems, Inc. (PSI) and Satisloh.

1. When was the last time you reviewed new consumables on the market?

o Can’t remember o Two or more years o Last 12 months If you chose “can’t remember” or even “two or more years,” you are doing your lab a disservice. Technology is driving change in all aspects of optical production, and consumable products are no exception. A manager should review this category at least once a year. Manufacturers are offering new and enhanced products, as well as consumable product systems that can help cut costs and improve efficiency at the workstation. See below, “Products That Save Time, Money, or Both.”

2. What are your lab’s consumables needs?

o Don’t know o Whatever consumable products we have been using o What our production process indicates

You should be choosing consumables based on your lab’s current production needs. Consider which equipment you have, what consumable products are recommended by the manufacturer, and the quality of work trying to be achieved. In some categories, you may be able to choose lower cost consumables, and in others, you may need to pay for a higher-performing product. But be very careful, as consumable products can be very specific to an application, and choosing the wrong ones can have repercussions throughout your process.

3. What is/are the key(s) to successful polishing?

o Type or quality of polishing pads o Good quality polish at a low temperature o All of the above

Yes, that’s right, you need both. Successful polishing requires quality equipment that maintains the right baume and temperature. Seek a vendor that demonstrates a complete understanding of the polishing process, rather than just one component of your finishing and surfacing consumable needs. In this case, “cheaper” is only “better” if the product is proven to produce quality work.

4. Do your pads and polishes work together?

o Don’t know o Think so o Yes The only way you can give the right answer (yes) is to choose a pad and polish system that maximizes production while producing high–quality lens surfaces. Not only will you save time and money, you’ll reduce spoilage. A good system can reduce your polish cycle and match fining times more closely with polishing times, i.e., you’ll produce higher–quality lenses in less time.

5. What type of coolant are you using in your generators and edgers?

o Cheapest we can find o Whatever we’ve always used o Coolant designed for optical labs

Given what you’ve invested in those generators and edgers, doesn’t it make sense to make sure you are using a coolant designed for the optical industry? Coolants raise production efficiencies and prolong the lives of cutter wheels and blades. In other words, you might pay a bit more up front for a coolant product that will save money for you in terms of output and equipment integrity.

6. How often do you check coolant concentration?

o Don’t know o When we think of it o Every day

There are good reasons to check your coolant concentration at least daily. Maintaining the right coolant levels will keep your generators running efficiently and at peak performance (again, think of what you’ve invested in those generators). Also, proper coolant mixture extends the life of those pricey diamond tools, which in turn, produce optimum surface quality. Another reason to check levels is to eliminate potential waste from adding unnecessary coolant. To check coolant levels accurately, use a simple hand-held refractometer.

Products That Save Time, Money, or Both Proper use of lab consumables can reduce spoilage, improve surface quality, and increase your throughput. Take a look at the latest products and consider if they can deliver true value to your lab production.

DAC Vision

FormaFlex Green Digital Polishing Pad Tools – These tools are equipped with a blue, first-step polish material that produces clear, smooth surfaces and protects tool surfaces from sharp lens edges. The tool durability and life are extended. Unique support foam enhances polish performance. The tools are easy to pick and load thanks to a color-coded system.

Lumina Polish Pads – This product comes in low temperature (LT) and high temperature (HT) designations, and several sizes. The fiber combination makes these pads well-suited for resin lenses, particularly polycarbonate and Trivex lenses. The pad enhances polish performance by positioning slurry on the lens plane, yet has low pad carry-out to optimize polish consumption. High-quality textile backing provides firmness and conformability. The pad’s adhesive system removes cleanly from bare lap tools, yet holds firmly on base pads.

Auto-Mate Robotic Edging Pad – Designed for high-production, automated blocking equipment. Lens slide adhesive firmly bonds throughout the entire edging process. The pad can be used on all lens curves and coatings, including super-hydrophobic and AR. Eliminates the need for edging masks and removes easily.

Coburn Technologies

A-MazeN Polishing Pad – This pad has unique dimples that allows the polish to stay on the lens where the work is being done, saving you both time and money. The poly-cotton textile carrier is coated with precision cut rayon-flocked fiber. This material is environmentally friendly as the textile is coated with a low-tack, natural rubber, pressure-sensitive adhesive for temporary positioning on bare lap tools with easy, clean removal. The pad is also made with manufacturing accuracies to reduce fiber and dye loss, preventing contamination of polishes.

Val-U-Line Advantage Pad – If you can dedicate a polishing line to CR-39 lenses, this value product may process all of your CR-39 work at a fraction of the cost. The Val-U-Line Advantage pad has a poly-cotton textile carrier coated with precision-cut rayon-flocked blended fibers coated with a low-tack, natural rubber, pressure-sensitive adhesive for firm and temporary positioning on bare lap tools.

Practical Systems, Inc. (PSI)

EZ LenSaver Tape -- This new tape is linerless, offering double the tape on the same size roll. These rolls reduce the number of tape change outs by 50 percent and can be used in both manual and automated tapers. Available in both green and blue, they offer better color contrast with progressive lens markings, making them easy to read. EZ LenSaver Tapes are easy on the environment because there is no liner waste. They bond securely to lenses without wrinkling and are easy to remove. Seventy-two yard rolls are available in both blue (1007LL) and green (1005LL).

Free-Form AR Polish – This polish is designed for free-form/digital polishing, free-form AR, and can be used for both conventional lens processing and digital. This polish provides superior surface quality on CR-39, high index, polycarbonate and all other types of plastic lens materials, and is production-proven to last up to four weeks.

Digi-Lap Polishing Tools -- The Digi-Lap Polishing Tool is a revolutionary soft lap for free-form/digital polishing. These tools are flexible, durable, high performance tools that offer extended life. PSI offers three designs: Digi-Flex I/A for i-Flex and Auto-Flex machines; Digi-OMax first step all materials tool for Swift, CCP102 and CCP103 machines and Digi-BMax second step tool for polycarbonate and Trivex for the Swift, CCP102 and CCP103 machines.


Conform Finish Block, Conform Advantage Finish Pad, and Conform Advantage Plus finish pad – This finish blocking system was developed in response to lab managers’ complaints that their staff was spending too much time making decisions about pad and block types and sizes and the decision-making process increased the risk for human error. With the Conform products, Satisloh has simplified quality finish blocking with block materials and designs that offer the best lens support and conformability. The new Conform Finish Block is made with specially-engineered True Center Support rather than a solid block back, allowing for proper support of critical lens points and eliminating crazing. The Conform Advantage and Conform Advantage Plus finish pads have a solid center, rather than the common open center or ‘donut hole.’ This solid profile, combined with a new adhesive, delivers better surface contact. You can get free sample packs of the Conform Advantage and Advantage Plus Pads as well as Conform Blocks by emailing [email protected] and entering “Finish Sample Pack” in the subject line. Mention you read about the Conform system in LabTalk.


Labtalk June 2020