You see the equipment every day. You and your staff use your lab frequently. But, do you know what to do if the machine stops workingbefore you pick up the phone and call tech support? In this years In-Office Lab Report, representatives from lab equipment manufacturers offer some insight and advice to help you better understand the technology that goes into making your in-office lab work, from pre-launch testing to regular upkeep.


Make Your Lab Work For You

Every lab requires the right equipment. Here is a selection of some of the newest product offerings that may be right for yours.


Practica Evolution (AIT)

The AIT Practica Evolution is a 3-D patternless tracer, edger and blocker that is powered by precision servo motors. It includes a 4-D groover that tilts automatically up to 15, an internal/external safety bevel tool and a mini-bevel to accommodate lenses intended for thin metal frames. Also, it features a separate process for specialty-coated lenses.

The Practica Evolution calibrates automatically. The user interface is based on an icon system. It also includes error, alarm and help alerts. For more information, call 1-800-729-1959, or go to


Alta XS (Briot)

The new Alta XS edges and drills standard or high-curvature lenses. It features drill hole recognition, lens shape modification and a lens shape library. Abilities include a safety bevel, high-definition drilling up to 30 and automatic angled groove positioning.

The machine itself includes an ergonomic hand rest and self-adjusting lens illumination. The user interface includes a large touch screen. Also included is the Briot Link, a remote servicing system that connects the unit to tech support via the network.
For more information, call 1-800-292-7468, or go to


Kappa CTD Edger and Drill (Gerber Coburn)

The Kappa CTD edger and drill features automatic bevel selection, three groove widths, soft-pin beveling, and a special cycle to accommodate fragile or anti-reflective lenses. The instrument keeps a record of 200 drill holes and diameters in a database for easy access. The Kappa CTD runs self-calibrations and self-diagnostics, and retains a history of test results.

The Kappa CTD coordinates with the Kappa CT tracer and blocker. For more information, call 1-800-843-1479, or go to


HLP Edger (National Optronics)

The HLP Edging System expands the 7E edger by including a drill configuration, a polish assembly and a grooving assembly that provides clean grooves on any lens shape, especially sharp-

cornered lenses or small-eye lenses.

The HLP can drill six holes in each lens in widths from 1mm to 5mm. The dry-cutting ability and three-axis control features allow the machine to process CR-39, polycarbonate, high-index and Trivex lenses without coolants. The user interface features PC-based software on a 15-inch flat panel LCD screen. Software includes a Help screen and operating instructions. For more information, call 1-800-247-9796, or go to

nanoCLEAR AR (Optical Dynamics)

The nanoCLEAR AR system incorporates AR coatings, hard coatings and UV protection right into the lens. The equipment now incorporates an oleophobic/hydrophobic topcoat during the final stages of the coating process. The nanoCLEAR AR is designed for compatibility with Optical Dynamics

Q-2100R in-office lens casting system. For more information, call (502) 671-2020, or go to


LEX-1000 Edger (Santinelli)

The LEX-1000 edger includes a specifically designed finishing wheel and patented process for edging lenses with high base curves, the Advanced Soft Grind mode for super hydrophobic coated lenses and specific processing abilities for smaller lenses. The user interface features sensored status update and troubleshooting capabilities.

The edger may be paired with one of five components to customize the machine to a practices needs: the LEX I includes the Ce9 manual blocker, the LEX II includes the Ice Mini Blocker, the LEX III features the Super Intelligent Blocker; the LEX IV incorporates both the Ice Mini Blocker and the Lex Drill; and the LEX V includes both the Ice 1000 Super Intelligent Blocker and the Lex Drill.
For more information, call 1-800-644-3343, or go to


Fast Grind 2200 (Super Systems Optical Technologies)

The upgraded Fast Grind 2200 uses a three-pad process to generate, finish and polish lenses using only tap water. This latest version of the equipment uses new software that allows for faster lens processing.

The operator can use the new Fast Grind 2200 to make computer lenses from standard progressive lenses, the company says. This surfacer has a 28-by-27-inch footprint, and the user interface is designed to be able to assist technicians who are still learning the process. For more information, call 1-800-543-7376, or go to


Ultima 5100 Finishing System (Topcon)

The Ultima 5100 Finishing System is available in three models: entry level, the SG and the XP. The SG model includes added safety beveling or grooving. The XP model features higher speed finishing and cosmetic beveling. The SG and XP also offer polished safety bevels.

Each model features a color LCD screen and user-friendly interface, and can process all types of lens materials. The user-interface includes a Windows-format system. All three models also are available as a Plus system with the Topcon DS-5000 Integrated Blocking System. Optional pattern enhancement software is also available. For more information, call 1-800-223-1130, or go to
Pre-Launch Preparation

First, some background. What went into your equipment before it was installed in your lab?

Before a new product launch, there is extensive testing, says Kevin Paddy, Director of New Product Development and Sales for National Optronics. This testing, he says, includes a close examination of the machines production capabilities and its life expectancy.

The goal, says Randy Baldwin, Director of Marketing for Gerber Coburn, is to come up with a product that, in the end, has both the customer and the industry in mind.

One of the most important facets (from the perspective of the future user) of product development, he says, is the design validation stage.

What would it take for someone to service the machine? What would the user have to do for regular maintenance? Mr. Baldwin asks. The service department will go through with a fine-toothed comb and try to find ways to help the machine troubleshoot itself when a problem occurs, or try to help the machine point the owner to where the problem is.

A strong emphasis is also placed on procedure and repeatability, says Frank Balestra, Technical Director for Santinelli International. With a good design and proper conformance to procedures, the company can focus on product capability.

Next, the product moves on to beta testing. By now, most of the kinks should have been ironed out, Mr. Baldwin says.

Extensive production tests can be performed in house, but nothing substitutes for real life, says Mr. Paddy. Beta testing can last anywhere from 60 to 120 days. Not until the items pass will production units begin to be built.

Once beta testing and any resultant modification to the new model are completed, we launch the product, says Mr. Baldwin.

After the product has been officially launched, its ready for purchase and installation. With new product installation comes what Mr. Balestra refers to as a necessary evil: user training.


Prevention: The Best Medicine

There is no replacement for experience, says Mr. Balestra. Comprehensive training sessions during the installation and follow-up training help incredibly.

Most manufacturers provide on-site training as a part of the installation process, and Mr. Balestra recommends making the arrangements to spare staff members from their daily routine to train on the new equipmentincluding yourself. A practitioner, as a business proprietor who is interested in opening up a lab in his or her facility, should have more involvement in the day-to-day processes that go on than anyone else in that lab. This way, the practitioner understands the equipment, and can run lens jobs him- or herself, if need be.

In the event you lose a key staff member, on-site retraining can be done as well, says Mr. Paddy.

Scheduled maintenance and regular tasks are included in staff training, says Mr. Baldwin. Maintenance is an extremely important process, he says. Think of a carif you dont keep up with the regular maintenance, when it breaks down, it might cost you more than it would have if youd kept up with it.

Most pieces of lab machinery come with recommended maintenance schedules, says Mr. Paddy. These schedules are the key to keeping your equipment in top-notch form.

Daily tasks, for example, include cleaning the machine at the end of the day, Mr. Paddy says. Mr. Baldwin also notes that daily tasks should include necessary machine calibrations, emptying recirculating water receptacles and disposing of lens waste materials. Weekly tasks could include cleaning and oiling any moving components that require it.

Also, says Mr. Balestra, Most products come with programmed noticesfor example, After so many cycles, please change the water, or Please calibrate the system. Diagnostic tools are built in to help keep the system running smoothly.

If youre not comfortable with the quarterly or annual maintenance requirements of the machine, he adds, consider a maintenance agreement through the company. Regular maintenance can be included in maintenance agreements, he says. A technician comes in and handles the regular upkeep.

But, what happens when something does go wrong?


Troublesome Troubleshooting

When lab equipment doesnt function properly, check the display for any warning or error lights. The piece of machinery may direct you to the error, says Mr. Baldwin. Most machines include lights to alert the customer to what the problem is.

Option two: Check your users manual. Inside the operators manual, there are step-by-step guidelines to troubleshoot errors, says Mr. Balestra.

Some common complications:

The tracer comes out of calibration. If, during your daily lens processing, the tracer falls out of the groove, recalibrate it by running the verification process. Depending on your machine, Mr. Balestra adds, check for an alert or a prompt to calibrate the tracer.

Polycarbonate flexing during grinding.
The adaptor that you insert the blocked lens into has a shape (usually oval), and the device, when you press the chuck button to hold the lens, has to be the same shape as the adaptor, says Mr. Balestra. If they are not, the lens may flex, resulting in crazed, cracked coatings and inconsistent bevel positioning. To reduce the chances of this, make certain that the adaptor and lens clamp match up.

Rough lens edges after edging. This is a matter of daily or weekly user maintenance, says Mr. Baldwin. If the edge [of the lens] is not as smooth as that of previous lenses, check the condition of the edging wheel, clean or replace it, and verify proper calibration.

Edging super hydrophobic coated lenses off-axis. This is a very common problem, says Mr. Balestra. It may be a signal that youre not using the appropriate leap pad while edging the lens, so check to see that youre using it according to the manufacturers guidelines, he says. Another solution: use a swivel clampit can conform to the angle that the lens is sitting at. And, use the machines fragile or soft mode of edging pressure.

Other common user errors include setting the machine to the wrong lens material setting, not cleaning the blocking compound and not changing the water frequently enough, says Mr. Baldwin.

If the machines prompts, user manual, or even Web site-based FAQs (frequently asked questions) dont help you solve the problem, then consider calling in some help. In most cases, an issue can easily be troubleshot over the phone, says Mr. Paddy. If necessary, replacement parts can be shipped overnight, or a regional service technician can be on site within a short time period.

When purchasing machinery, ask the company about its policy in the event of a malfunction. Sometimes, says Mr. Baldwin, a company can loan a doctor a piece of equipment until a problem is solved.

Also, consider purchasing a warranty that includes phone support and on-site service, Mr. Baldwin says. This way, in the event of any complication, you have guaranteed assistance directly from the source.



Regular maintenance, user experience and manufacturer support all play a role in the success and quality output of your in-office lab. The machines are made to be user-friendly and allow technicians, with training, to be comfortable processing patients lenses, while keeping each machine in peak form, Mr. Paddy says.

Each system will help the customer keep everything running as long as possible before a component fails, says Mr. Baldwin.

Mr. Paddy agrees. Customers have a very heavy presence in what we do and how we design our products.

Vol. No: 145:09Issue: 9/15/2008