Small Scale, Big Features

Small Scale, Big Features
New AR Systems for ECPs and Labs

It used to be that eyecare practitioners who wanted to order anti-reflective lenses were limited to either using a stock lens or ordering from a custom coating lab, wholesale lab or manufacturer with in-house AR capabilities. In recent years, equipment manufacturers have introduced smaller AR coating systems geared to the space, throughput and budget requirements of the in-office lab or small-to-medium size prescription lab. These compact systems are designed to deliver big performance in relatively small packages. The following roundup spotlights some of the newest small-volume AR coating systems on the market. —Andrew Karp


Manufacturer: Applied Multilayers Ltd.
+44 (0)1530 839998
UK-based Applied Multilayers Ltd. is introducing a new range of AR coating equipment that uses the latest closed-field reactive magnetron sputtering technology to produce high-quality coatings. The technique is more energetic than the standard evaporation process and produces coatings that are dense, durable and spectrally stable, according to Michael Walls, PhD, chairman of Applied Multilayers.
   The smallest of the Applied Multilayers systems is the CFM350. This system coats 12 lenses in a batch; cycle time per side is approximately 30 minutes. The process produces a four-layer AR using SiO2 as the low-index material and Nb2O5 as the high-index material. The process also includes an outer surface super-hydrophobic coating. The sputtering process is low temperature and allows plastic and glass lenses to be coated in the same run. Three other models are available: the CFM450 has a 30 lens capacity while the CFM650 and CFM850 can coat 60 or 140 lenses respectively.

Chemalux 300T

Manufacturer: Chemat Technologies
(800) 475-3628
Based upon the spin-on, sol-gel coating technologies of the Chemalux 150A, the new Chemalux 300T spin-on anti-reflection coating system is a higher capacity, faster system. The 300T spins two lenses side-by-side, applying Chemalux AR coating to both lenses at the same time. The system integrates high-pressure water washing, spin coating and thermal curing into a two-inch by two-inch footprint. The newly- developed feature of the continuous in-solution filtration is installed in the coating module. The system produces Chemalux’s patented highly flexible and tough AR. It measures 24 inches wide by 24 inches deep by 60 inches high. Coating capacity is up to five pairs an hour; coating cycling time is six minutes; thermal curing time is 15/15 minutes; 110V, 20A, 80 psi dry air; reflex colors are green, blue and magenta; flash mirrors are blue and gold.

TTAR (TableTopAR)

Manufacturer: Optical Dynamics Corp.
(800) 797-2743
The TTAR system uses proprietary technology in conjunction with the Optical Dynamics Q-2100 lens casting system. Designed for the independent OD or retail optical store, the Q-2100 and TTAR units combine to fit on a countertop and require no special electrical connections, water or technical skills to operate. The TTAR system uses a low temperature process to apply a polymer-based nano-composite AR stack and a highly abrasion resistant hardcoat to the inside of the glass molds used in the casting process.
   Once the 30-minute coating process is complete, the mold cavities are filled with either clear or photochromic monomer and are ready to be cured in the Q-2100 lens casting system. Twenty minutes later, the AR-coated, high-index lenses ready to edge, mount and dispense.
   The AR process is fully automated. The operator places the glass molds selected for the given Rx into the TTAR machine and presses the "on" button. When the AR cycle is complete, the system notifies the operator with an audible tone. Then the operator finishes the job following the steps of the Q-2100 process for mold assembly, filling, curing and de-molding.
   The TTAR system is being introduced to existing ODC customers this summer and will be generally available in Fall 2005.

Mercury Systems
Manufacturer: Quantum
(888) 268-3414
Quantum’s Mercury system can coat two or four lenses at one time, so labs do not have to hold lenses until a batch is accumulated. It is also useful in large labs, for running a rush job outside of normal batch loads or mirror coatings. The system’s plug and play design simplifies installation; it has a proven ROI in less than 12 months (based on 20 pair/day), according to Quantum.
Features include a small footprint, flexible touch screen operating system; anti-reflective and mirror coatings, state-of-the-art coating design and process; multiple coating designs programmed in system; fast cycle load/lock system; fully automated computerized control; dual six-inch magnetron source; dual rotational planetary system. Power: 208 VAC single phase; gases: 99.999 argon, oxygen and nitrogen compressed air: 100 psi

Manufacturer: satisloh North America
(877) 409-9401
Satisloh North America’s SP-200 system produces four lenses in approximately seven minutes per side. The SP-200 introduces a new type of sputter coating technology (pulsed DC Magnetron) that utilizes two reactive gases and only one chemical target. Unlike previous attempts at sputter coating that utilized a two target Metamode process resulting in a number of durability issues, the SP-200 technology utilizes nitrogen and oxygen to create low stress high and low index layers and a patented adhesion layer that results in extremely high adhesion and mechanical properties. The new system also incorporates a dual planetary lens holding system that results in excellent color uniformity.
   The SP-200 system can produce AR coatings and mirror coatings. The system, which measures less than one meter square, requires very little maintenance and infrequent cleaning, according to satisloh. It can coat over 1,000 lens pairs before requiring a chemical change or service.