Industry News

First Customer Acceptance of New Ophthalmic Lens Coating Machine OPTICS

Published on 2006-12-07. Author : SpecialChem

Kahl am Main -- The SINGULUS TECHNOLOGIES AG (SINGULUS) achieved an important breakthrough in its 2nd new business area "Optical Coatings". The first OPTICUS coating machine for plastic eyeglass lenses was qualified for production and accepted by a customer. In the current year, three machines have been delivered, of which the first machines is now being deployed in the mass production of ophthalmic lenses following extensive testing.

SINGULUS TECHNOLOGIES' Chief Executive Office Stefan A. Baustert comments: "We have made a big step towards our goal to convince the eyeglass industry of the clear advantages of our technology. The fruitful cooperation with two additional well-known eyeglass producers offers SINGULUS the big opportunity to successfully position itself in the market for the coating of ophthalmic lenses."

This new technology satisfies all the prerequisites to revolutionize the existing production of optical lenses. SINGULUS' proven Inline process stemming from the batch production of CDs and DVDs automates the production process and reduces the personnel intensity and therefore costs. Accordingly, the OPTICUS machine fully amortizes itself in a very short period of time subject to the utilization rate. SINGULUS draws on its core competence in the area of vacuum coating.

The integration of the customary hard, anti reflective (AR) and hydrophobic coating within the optical lens production into one Inline process and the complete automation of the plastic eyeglass lens processing have not been possible so far with the existing machines and processes. In contrast, the OPTICUS machine distinguishes itself from the traditional batch process by a high degree of automation and flexibility in particular. In addition, the system offers producers a significant reduction in logistic efforts and the shortening of cycle times. For example, with SINGULUS' know-how all coating steps can be performed in one machine on both sides of the plastic eyeglass lenses within a time of merely 30 minutes.

The market for optical coatings is an attractive business area for further growth. Due to the development of the age structure of the population, the market for eyeglasses will continuously grow worldwide in the coming years. Overall, more than 70 million coated eyeglasses are already sold in Western Europe every year; in the US the amount is currently exceeding 25 million a year.

Following the first breakthrough with several orders received by SINGULUS for the working area of TMR coating technology, the company was now able to overcome the high entry barriers in the ophthalmic lens production business with this technical acceptance. To safeguard long-term growth both business areas are being further progressed in addition to the core activities of machines and equipment for the production of optical discs.

In everyday use eyeglass lenses are subject to wear and tear even under careful handling. Frictions caused by dust particles, abrasion from cleaning the glasses and carrying them in a jacket or in the car are just simple examples that show the stresses and strain eyeglass lenses are exposed to. Plastic eyeglass lenses scratch a lot easier than so far traditional mineral lenses, but they are increasingly preferred by wearers of glasses due to the smaller weight. Therefore, the plastic surfaces have to be protected by a scratch-resistant layer. This has been generally achieved with hard coating, which is being applied on both sides in an immersion bath and subsequent time-consuming drying. The laborious drying is omitted with the innovative coating process of the OPTICUS machine.

In addition, incident light is reflected by eyeglasses to a varying degree so that the wearer of the glasses perceives these unwanted reflections which impair the vision. These optical interferences can be almost completely eliminated through anti-reflection (AR) coating. The AR coating was able to constantly gain market share in the market for ophthalmic lenses in the past couple of years. So far vacuum deposition machines have been used for anti-reflection coating, which had to be manually operating on a batch by batch basis. The OPTICUS enables the fully automated coating of the anti-reflection layer on both sides of the eyeglass lenses at the same time.


K flex Coalescents
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