What You Need to Know About Processing Hydrophobic Lenses

By Mike Willard and Steve Brown
What you already know about hydrophobic lenses is they’re great. They’re great for the consumer: AR coated superhydrophobic lenses eliminate glare, optimize scratch resistance, prevent moisture build up, fight smudges and contaminates, are easy to clean and the optics have never been better. What more could an informed consumer ask for?

What you already know about hydrophobic lenses is they’re profitable. They’re profitable for the lens manufacturers and the processing labs: advertising campaigns are telling the story; processing strategies are being developed to increase profits in a market that’s willing to pay for the value added benefits.

What you also already know about hydrophobic lenses is they’re slippery. This inherent property of the latest generation of thin-film coatings presents a new challenge to labs: securing the lens against slipping during edging to protect axis accuracy. . . and profits. What you need to know about successfully processing hydrophobic lenses is it’s doable. Technologies and resources vary from lab to lab and so do the internal organizations. Normalizing the processes within the unique lab environment is the common denominator to success. Creating a process strategy that standardizes super hydrophobic lens processing as closely as possible to the balance of conventionally treated lenses paves a path of efficiency that leads to increased profits.

Implemented properly, automation will streamline the lens-processing route by consolidating and eliminating steps, creating a smart efficient system. But at any level of automation, people are still a company’s primary strength and it’s critical for the workflow to optimize how one interacts with the other. Creating a symbiotic relationship between the technology and the workforce produces an environment that will achieve consistent, profitable results. On the other hand, introducing additional products, unnecessary or redundant steps, such as extra lens cleaning or wait-times, can hijack the system’s efficiency.

The challenge of securing AR coated super hydrophobic lenses during edging is problematic at best. This challenge is confounded by the fact that each lens manufacturers’ product is unique. Every thin film coating formula is different and new formulas are being developed as we speak. Finding an effective product or combination of products that will perform on these different surfaces without disrupting the efficiency of the workflow is the goal.

“The field has been leveled . . . Until now; edging expensive super hydro/oleo phobic lenses has been problematic. Eliminating costly rejects due to axis error from slippage during edging has been a challenge to even the best of labs. With Tak antislip film’s unprecedented adhesion, ensuring axis accuracy—even when edging the slipperiest lenses—is now no different than processing conventionally coated lens materials,” said Steve Albright, SALEM Vision Group.

Unfortunately, there is not a single-layer solution available, yet. However, the new Tak- antislip film from the Salem Vision Group may be the best solution to date. This innovative film is the product of a crosspollination of technologies within the diverse industries they serve. It has proven to successfully adhere to the latest super hydrophobic range of lenses.

This new anti-slip film creates a stable platform for the blocking pad to securely attach. Tak is compatible with and recommended to be used with most high quality blocking pads. This interface between lens and blocking pad resists applied forces during the edging process to ensure axis accuracy and eliminate premature de-blocking.

Tak fits the criteria for streamlining the workflow by operating across the range of different lens coatings and being compatible with a variety of blocking pads. With its use, edging super hydrophobic lenses is no different than edging conventionally coated lenses. Now, the process strategy does not have to include crossing your fingers!

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August/September LabTalk 2017