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The Potential Of New Technology
by Jim Grootegoed, professional editor
Talking about all the new technology labs have to play with, the real questions are, "What can I use to grow my business?"..."What will I need to stay competitive?"...and, "How can I successfully implement it into my business?"

For one, anti-reflective (AR) is here and here to stay. If you're a big lab, you have already purchased equipment or are about to. If you're not yet committed, look outside the usual suppliers for viable options. If you can't take the hit on equipment, consider negotiating with current suppliers or co-ops for private labeling or branded product.

Free-form is also going to be here and here to stay. It's like AR was 15 years ago, when labs asked, "Is it really better?" and "It's so expensive, will patients really pay for it?" and "Look at the capital investment, how can I make this work in my business environment?" As you can see by the comments below, Walman has already invested $1 million in the technology, and Balester is installing it this year. Cherry Optical, in Green Bay, WI, heavily promoted free-form, which eventually became over 14% of its total business, and, at the time, they were only a finishing lab! Now, theyıve put in three-axis surfacing.

On a different level, Sutherlin Optical in Kansas City was one of the first labs to embrace rimless. They established a separate section of their finishing process devoted to rimless and developed a significant business based upon that product, including servicing other wholesale labs. Sutherlin also saw the potential of the Eyenovate magnetic clip-on noted below, ran with the product, and is now producing over 500 jobs a month!

The key to being successful with all this new technology is identifying its potential...and committing to providing the resources to make that potential a success.

Heritage Labs Discuss AR and Digital Opportunities
• "AR and lens technology has fueled a lot of our opportunities over the last few years. We are currently in line for the installation of in-house digital lens technology in the second half of 2009. In addition to technology, we have had to venture into segments of the market that were not traditionally our customers. Retail chains, practice management groups, and buying groups represent a significant part of the optical market and have different demands and skill set needs, particularly in the sales force." Dale Parmenteri, Balester Optical

• "Walman and Soderberg came together to leverage new (and current) AR technology to create a highly productive and efficient centralized facility to manufacture all of the leading AR types in our industry. Another great example of our synergistic strength is our investment of over $1 million dollars to create a highly efficient, automated digital/free-form laboratory. Currently, we are averaging over 200 jobs per day and growing. We believe that free-form is the single greatest opportunity for both ECPs and labs in the market today based on our unit growth." Craig Giles, Soderberg Ophthalmic Services

The Heritage Lab Ambassadors Club is composed exclusively of former Transitions Lab of the Year winners. In-depth surveys with these lab managers are archived at the Optical Lab Products Web site.

Sizing Up Today's Lenses
Some of today's most advanced lenses are personalized for the individual wearer and customized for the dimensions of the one specific frame selected by that patient. To achieve this, the lens must take into account some unique measurements of how that one particular frame is worn on that single individual, such as vertex distance, pantoscopic tilt, and panoramic angle. Because these three measurements are required by the As-Worn Technology™ used to fine-tune select Autograph® lens designs from Shamir Insight Inc., the company created the Panorameter® Kit complete with the user-friendly tools needed to take these measurements. Each kit comes with two tools to take the patient's three measurements as well as instructions detailing the correct way to use each tool.

Specialty Lab Expands Digital and AR Capacity
To double its free-form progressive lens capacity, US Optical LLC of Syracuse, NY, has purchased a second fully automated Satisloh robotic digital surfacing machine and a second Carl Zeiss Vision anti-reflective machine. Currently, US Optical produces 1,200 lenses per day, with one-third being free-form progressives from Seiko and Shamir. The new capacity will allow the company to produce over 2,200 lenses per day.

National Optronics Names Huthoefer CEO
U.S. manufacturer and provider of equipment for both finishing and surfacing labs, National Optronics of Charlottesville, VA, has named Andy Huthoefer as its new CEO. An industry veteran with more than 15 years of experience in North America and Germany, Huthoefer was previously Satisloh's vice president of business development. His optical career includes experience as director of strategic planning for Carl Zeiss Vision International, marketing vice president at Carl Zeiss Optical, and lens product manager for Carl Zeiss in Germany. He has a degree as an Engineer of Ophthalmic Optics from the University of Applied Sciences in Aalen, Germany, and is a licensed optician.

One Liners
Start-up lab Insight Optical of Missoula, MT, and 30-year veteran lab Indiana Ophthalmics of Indianapolis, IN, have joined Optical Supply Co-op (OSC), an alliance of wholesale laboratories located throughout the United States.

Ophthalmic lens manufacturer, Vision-Ease Lens of Ramsey, MN, was recognized by the Anoka County Board of Commissioners for its commitment to environmental sustainability for using 100% renewable energy to make lenses, for recycling 147 tons of cardboard and 685 tons of polycarbonate in 2008, and for reducing its plastic use by nearly 35,000 cubic feet since 2005 by eliminating a plastic foam liner used for shipping lenses.

Lab managers invariably agree that one route to success is educating their eyecare professional customers how to better run their business, and one way to do so is by linking their Web sites to Vision Care Venture, the e-zine for the business of vision.

Mid-Size Coater Treats Premium AR In-House
Leybold Optics offers wholesale optical labs the opportunity to bring AR treating capabilities in-house with the BOXERpro. Qualified for many premium AR brands as well as for private labeling, the BOXERpro features a throughput that is 30% higher than comparable mid-size systems, according to the company. Its straight-sided walls create an optimized coating geometry that ensures easy maintenance and quick removal of chamber shields, and its monolithic design allows for a larger useful coating area while simultaneously helping to save floor space. The BOXERpro can be incorporated into Leybold's EASYLab turnkey coating facility, which incorporates all equipment for a complete anti-reflective lab—inspection station, cleaning and hardcoating line, and a quality control station—and needs no more than 480 square feet of space for the entire operation. A "clean room" is not required.

Processing and Polishing Polycarbonate
DAC Vision's Synchrony System™ combines three of the company's polishing and fining products specially formulated to work together for processing polycarbonate lenses. The Velocity™ one-step fining pad reducing fining times and works on all generator surfaces, the Lumina™ premium polishing pad employs a mixture of fiber lengths and densities to place the polish precisely on the lens surface and reduce the slurry carry out, and the OLA Award of Excellence winner HD-360™ premium lens polish improves clarity by reducing polycarbonate haze.

Edger Customizes Clip-Ons
Santinelli International, Inc. has introduced the Click Mode lens edger to produce Eyenovate, Inc.'s Chemistrie™ Sunlenses, which magnetically self align onto prescription eyewear. Chemestrie Sunlenses are base-curve matched to prescription lenses and can be customized for any frame type, including zyl, three-piece drill mounts, partial rimless, and groove. Polarized lenses are offered in eight tints and eight mirrored tints with a backside anti-reflective treatment. Bridges are 100% titanium and are offered in three colors and three sizes. As a special introductory offer, Santinelli is providing the Click Mode lens edger, a complete Chemestrie Sunlenses starter kit with the materials for five sets of sunlenses, and a point-of-purchase display, with the purchase of an ME-1000 Lens Edging System.

New Products, Line Extensions, Etc.
National Optronics' new compact three-axis Axiom Surface Generator employs dry-cutting technology to perform surface generation on lenses ranging from +6.00D to
-30.00D, automatic lens cribbing, pin-beveling, cuts plastic or foam laps to match any lens curve, and its software suggests the best lap to minimize waste and optimize cutting time.

Shamir Insight, Inc.'s Office™ and Piccolo® lens designs are now available in its proprietary impact-resistant and lightweight PolyPlus™ lens material with a Bayer rating over 5.

Shore Lens Co. has introduced a new ultra-thin, 1.74-index aspheric lens, with a 1.1mm factory center thickness, featuring the company's super hydrophobic anti-reflective lens treatment and Clear EZ Edge System (EZES), which prevents it from slipping during the edging process.


Marty Bassett, CFO of Walman Optical, discusses the success of the largest independent lab in the U.S. with OLP professional editor Jim Grootegoed.

The previous winners of Transitions Lab of the Year Award answer, "What's the most important factor in running a lab and how has it changed?" in this month's Heritage Lab Ambassadors Club Survey.

Pech Optical's "Free Care" program helps teach eyecare professionals why offering 100% replacement warranties is bad for business...for both the dispensary and the lab.
June 2009,
Issue 7
This Month

Sizing Up Today's Lenses
Specialty Lab Expands Capacity
National Optronics Names Huthoefer CEO

Mid-Size Coater Treats Premium AR In-House
Processing and Polishing Polycarbonate
Edger Customizes

New Products, Line Extensions, Etc.

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