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The Glazing Lab – How are my glasses made?

For most people their visit to the Opticians is confined to the test room and the shop floor. But have you ever wondered where and how your glasses are made? Take a step behind the scenes into our amazing optical lab.

Do you make all glasses?

We do yes! In their uncut form lenses arrive as round ‘blanks’.  These are then rotated to the correct axis and centred to your measurements. By having a large range of stock single vision lenses in this shape allows us to glaze a variety of frame shapes and sizes within an hour.

For more specialised lenses, such as varifocals, they have to be made to order. The process of manufacturing complex lenses from scratch is called Surfacing. Once made, the lenses are sent in their uncut form to be glazed in house by us.
By controlling all aspects of the glazing process we can ensure all spectacles are made to our standards and satisfaction.

So how is it done?

First the frame is put into the blocker’s tracer where a small stylus will run around the inner rim of the frames. This plots out the size and shape the lenses need to be cut to. The blocker is incredibly accurate, measuring to within 0.05mm.

Tracing Unit

Next we input all of the lens details and your personal measurements. The blocker then uses this information to automatically ‘block’ (set up) the lens at the correct orientation.

Once blocked the information is transferred over to the edger via a barcode and the lens loaded in. The edger uses its feelers to trace out the required shape on the uncut lens before the cutting begins. This makes sure that the uncut lens is large enough to produce the required shape at the correct measurements.

The cutting process then begins. I say cutting, it’s actually a grinding process. First the lens is ground down on the course roughing wheel creating the basic shape needed.
The lens is then moved across to the finishing wheel. This wheel is finer than the roughing wheel and has a V shaped groove. It is this groove that creates the V-shaped bevel on the lens edge which keeps the lens secure in the frame.

Where the V-bevel ends a sharp edge is created. The final stage is for the edger to add a safety bevel to the back of the lens to remove the sharp edge.

There is more than one way to cut a lens….

Not all lenses are finished this way. A V-bevel is only used for lenses being fitted into a full rimmed frame.

For half rim or supra frames the lenses are finished with a flat, polished edge and a narrow groove ground into the lens edge. This groove allows space for the nylon cord to sit which keeps the lens in place.

For rimless frames the lenses are finished with a flat polished edge. Holes are plotted out and drilled through the lenses and the frame parts held in place with compression plugs.

What about sunglasses?

For standard sunglasses we produce the majority of tints ourselves on site. For more complex coatings such as Polaroid lenses these are manufactured to order in the same way as varifocals.

Having a tint bath isn’t just about sunglasses though. We can produce blue, yellow and pink lenses, or create a custom colour of our own!

Do you just make ‘normal’ glasses?

Ordinary frames form the majority of the work that we do in our lab, but that is only the start of what we can do.

We are equipped with state of the art glazing machinery; a Nidek ICE1200 blocker and ME1200 edger. I appreciate these names may mean very little to you, but it’s what they are capable of that is so exciting.

Thanks to the design cut technology we have recently launched our bespoke diamante patterns, giving you the ability to add your own flare to your lenses. Check out these sunglasses!

Bespoke made glasses, diamante sunglasses

But that’s not all….

We (and our machines) are capable of so much more when it comes to spectacle manufacturing. This is why we have many more exciting plans for this year and for the glasses we offer, so watch this space!