By Melissa Morris
If you are investing in ways to make your optical lab more efficient, have you considered installing a water filtering and recycling system? Industries are certainly feeling the pressure to take steps to preserve the environment, but not only do these   systems have environmental benefits, they will allow you to make cost savings as well. These are certainly two good reasons to investigate water filtration and recycling   for your lab.

When liquids from the lab are filtered, the impurities are collected and disposed of safely, rather than being allowed to enter the water system, which otherwise is a source of pollution. Recycling water also reduces the amount of water that needs to be treated each day at external facilities and is additionally a benefit in areas vulnerable to water shortages. However, by recycling the water, this also significantly reduces the volume of water used by your lab and offers a way by which superior control can be gained over lens processing, both of which enable your lab to be more cost-effective. As with any equipment there is an initial outlay, but the small investment required for a unit to recycle water will bring you recognizable savings within the first year, allowing you to quickly recoup the cost of your purchase.

While you might think that fresh water would be the ideal fluid for your edger or finer needs, doing so actually increases the money you spend on your water bills, as   well as the financial implications of having to redo   lenses. It is therefore more costly to use fresh water   than if you invest money in a system to recycle water. Choosing not to recycle your water is literally washing   dollars down the drain. When you consider how much water your finers and edgers use each month, it can   run into a thousand dollars or more in terms of what you spend on water and sewage bills when using these   amounts. However, with a water filter and recycling unit, you could reduce the water used down to below two percent of your current usage; though the exact saving would depend on your chosen recycling system. While you may have concerns about the cost of running these systems, this is not sizable and the small amount of electricity required to power them is insignificant in comparison to what can be save on electricity and sewage rates.

However, besides offering a more environmentally friendly option and financial savings, you have the ability to exert more control over processing, so the chance of having to redo lenses is reduced. With advances in   optical technology, temperature control in the area where surfacing is completed has become more important. All standard plastic and polycarbonate resins experience temperature shifts when blocking and fining are carried out and when they are polished. Little more than a 5°F temperature change between these processes can be all that it takes to affect substrate stability, resulting in waves, imperfections and reduced lens surface quality; the lens power may also be adjusted. These lenses are not suitable for sale, so represent an inefficiency in working and therefore a loss to the lab.

When fresh water is used to supply your finers, you have no control over its temperature. Therefore in all likelihood, the water will either be too warm or too cool in comparison to that ideally required for the process. When water is too hot, lens quality is affected, while if water is too cold, a lens will deblock. Fluctuations in the temperature of the fresh water supply are also dependent on the time of year and what part of the day it is, so the quality of the lenses you produce may be influenced by the season and even those produced over one day may vary. This inconsistency is unwelcome when striving to promote more efficient practices, but can be solved with the help of a filtration and recycling system.

While you now appreciate the benefits of these filtering and recycling systems, you may have concerns that they will not suit your lab. However, as the y come in varying sizes, whether your optical lab is big or small, it should not be a problem to accommodate such a system;   compact units are available for when floor space is particularly limited. Units to recycle and filter water are   not difficult to install or maintain, with filters designed   to be easy to clean. Therefore their use will not add to your workload; if anything, by reducing broken lenses they will help to reduce it.


Labtalk June 2020