In this article we take a look at how optical manufacturers are reaping the benefits of laser technology.
Having less-than-perfect vision isn't as uncommon as you may think. About 75% of adults worldwide use some sort of vision correction, according to The Vision Council. About 64% of them wear eyeglasses, and about 11% wear contact lenses, either exclusively, or with glasses. That's over 4 billion people. Glasses and lenses are literally everywhere...but why are we writing about it on a laser blog?
Well, as it turns out, within the optical industry there are loads of really impressive applications of laser technology, from the manufacturing of optical lenses all the way through to personalising a finished pair of eyeglasses. Keep reading to find out more about how laser marking and engraving is being put to use within the optical industry.
WHY DO WE NEED TO MARK OPTICAL LENSES?
For those who have complex vision needs, their glasses may need what is commonly known as 'progressive lenses' or 'multifocal lenses'. The power of these lenses works on a gradient, dependent on the wearer's specific needs. For example, the top half of their lens may help them to see in the distance, but the bottom half may help them to see things up close. On lenses such as these, there may be micro-engravings such as points and crosses to identify the optical centre point or prism reference points. Some lenses have shapes engraved on them to help identify vision zones.
It is very rare for the wearer to notice the markings on progressive lenses, and when they do notice them, it’s usually when they are not wearing the lenses, but holding them up to the light while cleaning them. The markings are very small and ergonomically positioned as to be out of view for normal eye positions. Even opticians have difficulty locating them without a magnifier!
In some cases, prescription information is engraved onto a lens right at the edge and is then shaved off by the optometrist when being made to fit the frame.
WHAT ABOUT CONTACT LENSES?
Laser engraving is being utilised for contact lenses too. Lower power Co2 lasers can mark plastic contact lenses effectively without the need for printing with consumables. Not only is this cheaper and better for the environment, but it eliminates any contrast as the mark is clear. Laser marking contacts allows for information to be added to contact lenses such as:
- Product codes and serial numbers for traceability
- Issue dates to ensure customers are aware of expirations
- External indicators which help users to insert contacts facing the correct way
Thus, the benefits of laser marking contact lenses as opposed to traditional methods of printing present advantages for both the manufacturer and the consumer. Win-win.
CAN YOU PERSONALISE GLASSES WITH A LASER ENGRAVING MACHINE?
You certainly can. More and more as we have seen in other blog posts, people are going mad for personalisation whether it's gifts or products they buy for themselves. Eyewear is no exception to the trend.
Firstly, some consumers desire small engravings on the outer corners/edges of their lenses. This might be a monogram or small symbol. The other way in which consumers wish to personalise their eyewear is the frames themselves. Whether it's their own name or a quote, or personalising pairs of sunglasses for a summer wedding, laser technology is increasingly becoming the popular method to achieve these marks. Traditional methods of painting them on are proving less popular as these marks generally wear off over time. Of course, laser marking is permanent.
It isn't just consumers who benefit from laser engraving glasses frames. More and more manufacturers are now laser engraving serial numbers, logos and other information onto the arms of eyeglasses. This helps both consumers and retailers to better identify materials, brands and production information for traceability.
So, there we have it. Within just one industry, laser technology is being used in a variety of ways to help manufacturers, retailers and consumers. Whether you're a lens manufacturer looking to engrave glass lenses, or a retailer looking to offer personalisation, we would love to explore the possibilities of laser technology with you.