The Innovative Cut-to-Coat Process for Low Cost Manufacturing Digital Rx Lenses
Small Business Information
9036 Winnetka Avenue, Northridge, CA, -
AbstractDESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Today Rx-manufacturing in the ophthalmic industry is a complex process with many production steps, substantial batch processing and a lot of manual handling especially in the coating steps. With digital surfacing technology, designers are able to translate intricate design concepts (personalized and advanced aspheric corrections etc.) needed to accomplish improvement from the drawing board into a real lens. Current digital lens surfacing production systems are generallyexpensive, complicated and bulky which limits its wide applications. The significant investment and high demanding in labor skills drive the optical lab works to outside US, decreasing jobs in US even this industry is a service industry which work should be done locally in US. In this proposed research, we plan to develop the cut-to-coat digital surfacing technology - a coating process to replace the fining/polishing steps used in optical lens fabrication for the digital lens manufacturing. A couple of coating solutions with different refractive index will be formulated in order to match lenses with different refractive index from 1.499 (CR-39), to 1.74 (high Index). This innovation will bring the freeform technology to a new level: (1) truly freeform optics; (2) low capital investment; (3) affordability of the freeform lenses and (4) retaining freeform lens fabrication work locally (especially in US) by eliminating the polishing step so that the total investment of the digital surfacing process and operation labor will be significant lower to allow the most US small Rx labs (wholesale and retail) to adopt this technology. The proposed new Cut-To-Coat technology opens the door to use very efficiently semi-finished blank lenses being fully hard- and AR-coated on the front side in the Rx-process, and is a series of new technologies which will compose a novel Rx lens manufacturing technology: the inline spin-on hard coating and AR coating technologies and the pre-blocking semi-finished lens technology using environmentally benign plastics. The success of this proposed technology will not only increase production efficiency (saving on polishing time and labors as well as investment in polishing equipment) but also eliminate the usage of non-environmentally benign polishing slurries and other consumables. The cost saving is estimated to be one third to half ( 50 - 75) to produce the digital lenses using the cut-to-coat technology comparing the state-of-the-art cut-to-polish technology. Based on the current 1percent penetration by the optical lens market, this could result in total cost savings to the optical retailer of between 30 million and 60 million annually. As the market penetration increases, the total cost savings to the optical retailer could be ashigh as billions when the market is fully developed, and the potential savings to the American consumer could be even higher.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.