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WO2002087860A1 - Lens production line - Google Patents

Lens production line

Info

Publication number
WO2002087860A1
WO2002087860A1 PCT/IB2001/000747 IB0100747W WO2002087860A1 WO 2002087860 A1 WO2002087860 A1 WO 2002087860A1 IB 0100747 W IB0100747 W IB 0100747W WO 2002087860 A1 WO2002087860 A1 WO 2002087860A1
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
molding
shell
means
production
front
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/IB2001/000747
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Jean-François Magne
Daniel Nadaud
Original Assignee
Concepcionlicence Ag
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

Links

Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE, IN GENERAL
    • B29DPRODUCING PARTICULAR ARTICLES FROM PLASTICS OR FROM SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE
    • B29D11/00Producing optical elements, e.g. lenses or prisms
    • B29D11/00009Production of simple or compound lenses
    • B29D11/00038Production of contact lenses
    • B29D11/00125Auxiliary operations, e.g. removing oxygen from the mould, conveying moulds from a storage to the production line in an inert atmosphere
    • B29D11/00192Demoulding, e.g. separating lenses from mould halves
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B08CLEANING
    • B08BCLEANING IN GENERAL; PREVENTION OF FOULING IN GENERAL
    • B08B9/00Cleaning hollow articles by methods or apparatus specially adapted thereto
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE, IN GENERAL
    • B29DPRODUCING PARTICULAR ARTICLES FROM PLASTICS OR FROM SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE
    • B29D11/00Producing optical elements, e.g. lenses or prisms
    • B29D11/00009Production of simple or compound lenses
    • B29D11/00038Production of contact lenses
    • B29D11/00125Auxiliary operations, e.g. removing oxygen from the mould, conveying moulds from a storage to the production line in an inert atmosphere
    • B29D11/00134Curing of the contact lens material
    • B29D11/00153Differential curing, e.g. by differential radiation
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE, IN GENERAL
    • B29DPRODUCING PARTICULAR ARTICLES FROM PLASTICS OR FROM SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE
    • B29D11/00Producing optical elements, e.g. lenses or prisms
    • B29D11/00009Production of simple or compound lenses
    • B29D11/00038Production of contact lenses
    • B29D11/00125Auxiliary operations, e.g. removing oxygen from the mould, conveying moulds from a storage to the production line in an inert atmosphere
    • B29D11/00134Curing of the contact lens material
    • B29D11/00153Differential curing, e.g. by differential radiation
    • B29D11/00163Movable masks or shutters, e.g. to vary the exposure
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE, IN GENERAL
    • B29DPRODUCING PARTICULAR ARTICLES FROM PLASTICS OR FROM SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE
    • B29D11/00Producing optical elements, e.g. lenses or prisms
    • B29D11/00009Production of simple or compound lenses
    • B29D11/00423Plants for the production of simple or compound lenses

Abstract

Described is a production line (1) for the production of ophthalmic lenses (10) that comprises a molding apparatus (2), at least one molding-shell-storage (3), at least one molding-shell-transporting-means (4), at least one operating unit (5), and preferably also a demolding apparatus (7) and molding-shell washing means (8). Said molding apparatus (8) and said demolding apparatus (7) are both suitable for fully automatized molding and demolding of ophthalmic lenses (10).

Description

Lens Production Line

Technical Field

The present invention concerns a production line for the production of optical, in particular ophthalmic lenses.

Background Art

Hitherto ophthalmic lenses are usually produced by fine machining of optical blanks. In recent times, attempts has been made to directly mold ophthalmic lenses (see PCT/IB99/01776) the disclosure of which is enclosed herein in its entirety by reference.

Up to now, however, all ophthalmic lens production methods involve a lot of work performed by persons .

Brief Description of the Invention

Hence, it is a general object of the invention to provide an at least partially automatized device or rather production line for the production of optical, in particular ophthalmic lenses.

Now, in order to implement these and still further objects of the invention, which will become more readily apparent as the description proceeds, the production line for the production of optical, in particular ophthalmic lenses is manifested by the features that it comprises a molding apparatus, at least one molding-shell-storage, at least one molding-shell- transporting-means, and at least one operating unit, wherein - said molding apparatus comprises a sealing means defining an essentially circular aperture around an axis, preferably an axis through the center of said sealing means, a liquid polymer conveying unit to fill a molding cavity formed by a front molding shell and a back molding shell and the sealing means,

- said at least one molding-shell-storage comprises the molding shells in a manner suitable to allow easy access to a specific molding shell by the molding-shell-transporting-means,

- said at least one molding-shell- transporting-means being able to fetch molding shells from the molding-shell-storage and to position said molding shell in or on said sealing means, and

- said at least one operating unit being such that it guides the molding-shell-transporting-means to fetch and position the back molding shell and/or the front molding shell in or on said sealing means, such that together with the sealing means they form a molding cavity.

Further aspects, embodiments and advantages of the invention become apparent from the dependent claims in connection with the specification and drawings.

Brief Description of the Drawings

The invention will be better understood and objects other than those set forth above will become apparent when consideration is given to the following detailed description thereof. Such description makes reference to the annexed drawings, wherein:

Figure 1 is a presentation of a production line fully automatized including the demolding step and with manual steps involved in washing of molding shells.

Figure 2A shows a schematic cross-sectional view of a preferred molding device suitable for the automatized production of ophthalmic lenses. The mold is shown in a disassembled state with a one-piece gasket having an aperture which is large enough in an opened state to receive the back molding shell due to a suitable gasket shape or to a radial gasket expansion;

Figure 2B shows a schematic cross-sectional view of a mold similar to Figure 2A but with a divisible gasket in a disassembled state.

Figure 2C shows a schematic cross-sectional view of the mold of Figure 2A and Figure 2B in a partially assembled state with the gasket already pressed to one of the molding shells, Figure 2D shows a schematic cross-sectional view of the same molds as in Figures 2A to 2C in a fully assembled state.

Figure 3 shows a top view of a demolding apparatus with actively applied force from one side. Figure 4 is a schematic cross-sectional view through part of the demolding apparatus showing the assembly with active force applied from two sides by means suitable for simultaneous force application to the front molding shell and the lens . Figure 5 shows a schematic cross-sectional view through the force applying means of Figure 4 including a projecting finger for pressing onto and/or penetrating into the molded lens .

Figure 6a and Figure 6b show perspective views of a tray for a front molding shell or mold assembly and for a back molding shell for their safeguarded handling and transportation in the production line.

Figure 7 shows a UN-polymerization of an ophthalmic lens using a transversely shaped intensity distribution.

Disclosure of preferred embodiments

The production line 1 of the present invention comprises at least one molding apparatus 2, at least one molding-shell-storage 3, at least one molding- shell-transporting-means 4, and at least one operating unit 5. Optionally said production line 1 can further comprise one or more of the following tools in the mentioned sequence: at least one assembly-transporting- means 6, at least one demolding apparatus 7, preferably integrated in the molding apparatus 2, and at least one molding shell 11, 12 washing apparatus 8 (see Figure 1) . In addition, apparatuses for further treatment of lenses 10 and necessary transport means can be present, as well. The production line 1 of the present invention can be applied to a large variety of different molds consisting of a front molding shell 11, a back molding shell 12 and a sealing means 13, e. g. to molds with the front and the back molding shells 11 and 12 having identical dimensions. However, a lot of complicated and therefore critical and expensive positioning elements can be avoided, if the production line 1 is designed for a preferred mold composed of a front molding shell 11 that is larger in its lateral dimension or diameter than the back molding shell 12 and a sealing means 13 with an aperture 14 and a contact area 15 for the front molding shell 11 radially extending from said aperture 14, which sealing means 13 is suitable to receive in a sealing manner the back molding shell 12 within said aperture 14 and the front molding shell 11 on said contact area 15.

For assembling such a preferred mold (or a tight molding cavity 16, respectively) the molding apparatus 2 comprises a radially-acting-means 17 for sealing said sealing means 13 to the back molding shell 12 and an axially-acting-means 18 for axially pressing said front molding shell 11 to said contact area 15 (see Figures 2A to 2D) . If both molding shells 11, 12 have identical diameter, or if the sealing means 13 is suita- bly shaped, both molding shells 11, 12 can be placed in the sealing means 13 such that usually one radially- acting-means 17 is sufficient, but more complex position-

least one of said molding-shell-transporting-means 4 comprises a molding-shell-fetching means (indicated by arrows reaching into the molding-shell storage 3) for fetching a molding shell 11, 12 from the molding-shell- storage 3 and putting it on a molding-shell-conveying- means 4 designed to transport said molding shell 11, 12 to the molding apparatus 2, where it is accessible to a molding-shell-positioning means (indicated by arrows reaching into the molding apparatus 2 ) designed to fetch said molding shell 11, 12 and to position said molding shell 11, 12 in or on said sealing means 13. Note that the molding-shell-transporting-means 4 are designed to deliver molding shells 11, 12 from a sufficiently large molding-shell-storage 3 to provide various molding shells 11, 12 for automatized production of a large variety of lens prescriptions.

Examples for molding-shell-fetching-means are robot arms, and for molding-shell-conveying-means a conveyor belt, preferably with trays 61, 62, molding shell revolvers, etc..

It is also possible to use movable molding- shell-storages 3, or molding-shell-storages 3 comprising movable storage units. Such molding-shell-storages 3 can not only bring the desired molding shell 11, 12 in a desired position with regard to the molding-shell- fetching-means, but they can even be designed and positioned such that they act as molding-shell-conveying- means 4 making any fetching and transporting means other than the molding-shell-positioning-means dispensable. Examples for molding-shell-storages 3 are storage cassettes, comprising the molding shells 11, 12 in an upright position, or, preferably, roundabouts or revolvers with storage capacity comprising several places for different molding shells 11, 12, each of said places being suitable to store one or several molding shells 11, 12 of the same kind. If different molding-shell-storages 3 are used for front molding shells 11 and back molding shells 12, they can independently of each other be movable or not movable, connected with one multifunctional molding- shell-transporting-means 4, or with a several parts comprising molding-shell-transporting-means 4, i. e. a molding-shell-transporting-means 4 comprising a molding- shell-fetching-means, a molding-shell-conveying-means and a molding-shell-positioning-means, whereby two of said means may be integrated in one partial means.

If the production line 1 is designed for the preferred embodiment of a mold as described above, positioning can be made by simply introducing a stop for positioning the front molding shell 11, said stop defining an axial position and/or a basic lateral or radial position of the front molding shell 11 with respect to the sealing means 13. Such stop can e. g. be at least one fixedly mounted metal part fixing the axial position of the front molding shell 11 independent of the axial force applied. Such metal part can also comprise one or more noses or similarly acting parts preventing the lateral displacement of the front molding shell 11 in the nose-blocked direction. In particular, if the front molding shell 11 is not of perfectly symmetrical shape, a lateral stop may also serve as stop to indicate a basic position with regard to rotation about the axis 9 through the center of the aperture 14, i. e. perpendicular to the contact area 15 of the sealing means 13.

Whether or not a basic rotational position can be fixed by a stop, the front- and/or back-molding- shell-transporting-means 4 can in any case be designed such as to allow rotation of the front molding shell 11 and/or back molding shell 12, respectively, about said axis 9, preferably said axis 9 through the center of the aperture 14 or sealing means 13, respectively.

Said front-molding-shell-transporting-means 4 can also be designed such that a transverse or radial movement of the front molding shell 11 for decentering the front molding shell 11 is possible. In a further embodiment, said front-molding-shell-transporting-means 4 is able to rotate and to transversely or radially move the front molding shell 11.

The contact area 15 of said sealing means 13 can have several different lateral extensions. It can at least partially laterally surpass the laterally extending abutting part of the front molding shell 11, in particular in basic position. This enables easy decentering without loosing any or a noticeable sealing contact area 15. If only part of said contact area 15 has a lateral extension corresponding to the extension of the molding shell 11, 12, provided that the sealing contact area 15 is sufficiently large, the laterally extending abutting part of the molding shell 11, 12 surpassing said contact area 15 can be brought in contact with one or more stop areas that are equiplanar with the contact area 15. It is also possible to have e. g. a ring-shaped contact area 15 that is smaller than the e. g. also ring- shaped laterally extending abutting part of the front molding shell 11. In this embodiment, an axially acting stop might also be ring shaped. Such embodiments of the sealing means 13, in particular a gasket 13, are not only usable in a production line 1 but are suitable for any above described mold with abutting front molding shell 11.

The production line 1 of the present invention preferably also comprises an assembly- transporting means 6 and a demolding apparatus 7, said assembly-transporting-means 6 being for fetching an assembly 70 consisting of a front molding shell 11, a back molding shell 12 and a lens 10 between said molding shells 11, 12, for transporting said assembly 70 to said demolding apparatus 7, and for positioning said assembly 70 or molding shell 11, 12, respectively, in said demolding apparatus 7. In a preferred embodiment the ) w M t t-1 cn o Ul o cn O n

C t t μ> μ> cn O cn o cn o Ul

molding shells 11, 12, it is preferred that the demolding device comprises at least one molding-shell-force- applying-means 72 acting on the front molding shell 11 and at least one molding-shell-force-applying-means 73 acting on the back molding shell 12, said means preferably being placed such that the force provided to the front molding shell 11 is perpendicular to the force provided to the back molding shell 12.

The force to the lens 10 is preferably applied to the lens 10 by a lens-force-applying-means 71 that has at least one lens-contacting-area 75 of at least 15 mm2, preferably 15 mm2 to 30 mm2, most preferred about 25 mm2. Preferably the lens-contacting-area 75 has a thickness t smaller than the thinnest lens 10 to be demolded, usually t < 2 mm, preferably 1 mm < t ≤ 2 mm, more preferably t=1.5 mm, and/or a circumferential width W of at least 10 mm, preferably 10 mm < W < 20 mm, more preferred W=16.5 mm.

In another preferred embodiment of the lens- force-applying-means 71 (Figures 3 to 5) the lens- contacting-area 75 is on a finger or protrusion with an overhang or projecting length 76 of 1 mm ≤ 1 ≤ 2 mm, preferably about 1=1.5 mm. The overhang 76 is the part of the finger that exceeds the difference in the lateral extension or radius of the front molding shell 11 and the lens 10. In particular, by choosing a length 1 of the overhang 76 the ratio of a first force applied by the lens-force-applying-means 71 to the lens 10 and a second force applied by the molding-shell-force-applying-means 72 to the at least one molding shell 11, 12, in particular the front molding shell 11, can be chosen according to a predetermined value. Thus the two force- applying-means 71, 72 are combined such that said lens- force-applying-means 71 or its overhang 76, respectively, slightly penetrates the lens 10 upon force application. Both force-applying-means 71, 72 can also have a more independent coupling via a spring loading 711 for the lens-force-applying-means 71 or the overhang 76, respectively.

The force applied to the front molding shell 11 shall be chosen in the range of 100 kg to 400 kg, preferably about 200 kg, and the force applied to the back molding shell 12 is in the range of 100 kg to 200 kg, preferably about 140 kg.

The force that can additionally be applied to the lens 10 by the lens holder 74 is in the range of 10 kg to 20 kg, preferably about 15 kg, in particular if said lens holder 74 is also used as passive force applying means that effects application of a reactive force to opposing sides of the lens 10.

The application of active force to one side of one or both molding shells 11, 12 is also possible. In this case the demolding device 7 comprises a holder 77 for fixing the opposite side of the front molding shell 11 and/or a holder 78 for fixing the opposite side of the second or back molding shell 12. The production line 1 of the present invention can also comprises at least one surface treatment such as a coloration, application of a scratch resistant coating, etc.

Independent of a further treatment, the production line 1 can comprise at least one lens- transporting-means for fetching the lens 10 from the demolding apparatus 7 and transporting it to the next step in the production line 1, such as surface treatment, characterization by engraving a mark, etc., or a lens storage or a lens packaging unit.

The production line 1 of the present invention can also comprise a used-molding-shell- transporting means (indicated on bottom of Figure 1) for transporting the used molding shells 11, 12 from the demolding apparatus 7 to a molding-shell-washing-means 8, a molding shell-washing means 8 for cleaning the used molding shells 11, 12, and a cleaned-molding-shell- transporting-means (indicated in Figure 1 to the left of the operator) for transporting the molding shells 11, 12 back to the molding-shell-storage 3 for storage and further use. It has proven favorable if the molding shells

11, 12 are placed in a molding-shell-protection-unit or tray or container 61 or 62 (Figures 6a and 6b) , said molding-shell-protection-unit 61, 62 protecting said molding shells 11, 12 during storage in the molding- shell-storage 3 and/or during transport in the production line 1, in particular in the molding-shell-transporting- means 4 and/or in the cleaned-molding-shell-transporting- means and/or in the used-molding-shell-transporting means . Preferably the front molding shell 11 is placed in a first tray 61 (Figure 6a) and the back molding shell 12 in a second tray 62 directly after the washing 8 to avoid any pollution or mechanical damage, such as scratches, of the molding shells 11, 12 and, in particular, of their active surfaces, i. e. the lens touching or lens forming surfaces. The trays 61 and 62 can also facilitate the automatized handling of the molding shells 11, 12. For this purpose they are provided with at least one recess 611, 621 for giving access to a robot positioning tool (not shown) for placing and fetching the molding shells 11, 12 on and from the trays 61, 62. Furthermore a lower rim or edge 612 or 622 is provided for abutting the shells 11, 12 outside their optical surfaces and in a height position such that the optical surfaces cannot touch the bottom 613, 623 of the trays 61, 62. Clamps 614, 624 are provided for withholding the shells 11, 12 in their position on or in the trays 61, 62, in particular during transportation. Note that the tray 62 for smaller back molding shells 12 is smaller in diameter and comprises additional noses 625 for holding the back molding shells 12 in position. It is also preferred that the assembly 70 is as well handled and transported in an assembly-protection-unit 61, 62, in particular in the assembly- transporting means 6. The assembly-protection-unit 61, 62 can be identical to the tray 61 for the front molding shells 11, if the assembly 70 is positioned with the front molding shells 11 facing the tray bottom 613. Although pollution is not so critical for the assembly 70, protection against mechanical damage and precise positioning, e. g. on the conveyor belt 4 or 6, are desirable and help in facilitating and automatizing the handling of assemblies 70 in the production line 1.

An advantage of the above described production line 1 is that from one to preferably all steps can be controlled by said operating unit 5 for automatization .

Said operating unit 5 comprises one or more sub-units selected from the following group

- storage-control unit for addressing and providing the desired molding shells 11, 12,

- molding-control-unit for assembling the front molding shell 11, the back molding shell 12 and the sealing means 13 such that together they form the molding cavity 16, - molding-operating unit 5 for steering the filling of the molding cavity 16 with lens forming material and for curing the lens forming material in the molding cavity 16 by heat or irradiation,

- assembly-operating-unit for transporting the assembly 70 to the demolding apparatus 7 and for bringing said assembly 70 in demolding position,

- demolding-operating-unit for steering the demolding,

- molding-shell-operating-units for transporting the demolded molding shells 11, 12 to a washing unit 8 and/or a molding-shell storage 3, and - lens-operating-unit for transporting the lens 10 to a further treatment and/or a lens storage and/or a lens packaging unit (not shown) .

The molding-operating-unit preferably also steers or controls the curing of the lens forming material in the molding cavity 16 by heat and/or irradiation according to a specific spatio-temporal energy distribution program.

The molding-operating-unit preferably also steers the removal of the sealing means 13 within the molding apparatus 2.

Either the molding-operating-unit or the assembly-operating-unit can be used to steer or control the placing of the assembly 70 in the assembly- protecting-unit 61.

The molding-shell-operating-unit can also be such that it steers or controls the placing of the molding shells 11, 12 in their respective molding-shell- protecting-units 61 or 62. All or parts of the operating unit 5 or sub- units, respectively, can be implemented by hardware and/or software. All steering or control operations can be provided with control and/or sensor means to provide input to a suitable feedback circuit for automatic production line control and production error recognition and production error handling and correction.

In a preferred embodiment, the molding apparatus 2 can comprise any curing device for faster curing of the polymeric material, such as e. g. a heat or irradiation curing device, in particular a UN-curing device. Said heat or irradiation curing device preferably comprises a heat or irradiation source, in particular a UN lamp, and preferably means for controlling a spatio- temporal distribution of the irradiation intensity, such as an openable iris, spatially inhomogeneous absorption filters and/or spatial light modulators. CJ O t t ti' l-1 cn o cn o cn o cn

intensity 217' transversely. A spatial light modulator 220 is advantageous in that it can be addressed and controlled dynamically by the molding-operating-unit 219 to provide an arbitrary, time-variable transverse intensity distribution 217'. It is thus very suitable to implement specific spatio-temporal energy distribution programs that are adapted to the lens 10 to be made, in particular that are adapted to provide optimal shrinkage compensation for the lens 10 to be made. In particular, an apodized or concave intensity distribution 217' or I0(x, y, t) is provided by the absorption filter or spatial light modulator 220. The absorption filter 220 can be implemented by a coating 220 on an outer surface of the back molding shell 12. Spatial light modulators 220 with high image quality, fast response times and suitability for use in transmission are known to the skilled person and are commercially available. For bilateral irradiation through both the front and back molding shell 11 and 12, both molding shells 11 and 12 may have absorption filters 220 and/or spatial light modulators 220. When unilateral illumination is provided the roles of the back and front molding shells 11, 12 may in principle be exchanged.

The modulated irradiation intensity 217' impinges on the back molding shell 12 that is transparent to the irradiation 217', enters the molding cavity 16 through the first molding surface 212 and induces a polymerization process in an illuminated portion or volume 221 of the synthetic material 202. After a while a solidification front 222 of the illuminated volume 221 approaches the second molding surface 211 and forms a gap. According to a preferred embodiment the impinging illumination intensity 217' is modulated in the transverse directions 214 and in time such that a liquid layer 223 is formed between the solidification front 222 and the second molding surface 211 with a thickness that is increasing as a function of at least one transverse direction 214 of solidification. In other words, the liquid layer thickness must be an increasing function in a transverse direction 214, into which the solidification is progressing. When the solidification is started in a central portion 221, as is usually but not necessarily the case, the increase of the liquid layer thickness must occur in a transverse direction 214 oriented outwards or towards the periphery of the mold 16. This is achieved by apropriately controlling the curing speeds in the axial and transverse directions 213, 214. The curing speed in axial direction 213 may be defined as the speed of spatial progression of a gelation front 222 into the mold 16 in the axial direction 213. Similarly a transverse curing speed describes the temporal evolution of progression of the gelation front 22 in the mold 16 in a transverse direction 214. The invention thus provides a channel, namely the liquid layer 223, with a favourable geometry for giving free access for a mainly transverse inflow 224 of liquid polymerizable synthetic material 202 that compensates an axial shrinkage of the solidifying synthetic material 202 in the hardening volume 221.

It shall be understood that the term solidification refers to any partial polymerization, such as gelation, or complete polymerization of the synthetic material 202, that is associated with an immobilization of liquid material monomeres 202. A gel point may correspond to a 15% - 30% partial polymerization. The shrinkage starts during gelation and continues until the polymerization is completed. Typically total shrinkage amounts to 5% - 15% of the starting volume of liquid material 202. By the invention the effect of shrinkage in the axial direction 213 can thus be largely reduced or even eliminated without resorting to time-consuming stepwise polymerization schemes. It can be sufficient to control the formation of the liquid layer 223 only to the extent that an optically usable part of the optical element 10 is solidified. Therefore, liquid material 202 CO t μ> μ> cn o cn o cn rr μ- co

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Claims

Claims
1. A production line (1) for the production of optical, in particular ophthalmic lenses (10) , comprising a molding apparatus (2), at least one molding- shell-storage (3), at least one molding-shell- transporting-means (4) , and at least one operating unit (5) , wherein
- said molding apparatus (2) comprises a sealing means (13) defining an aperture (14) around an axis (9) , in particular an essentially circular aperture, a liquid polymer conveying unit to fill a molding cavity (16) formed by a front molding shell (11) and a back molding shell (12) and the sealing means (13), - said at least one molding-shell-storage (3) comprises the molding shells (11, 12) in a manner suitable to allow easy access to a specific molding shell (11, 12) by the molding-shell-transporting-means (4) ,
- said at least one molding-shell- transporting-means (4) being able to fetch molding shells (11, 12) from the molding-shell-storage (3) and to position said molding shell (11, 12) in or on said sealing means (13), and
- said at least one operating unit (5) being designed such that it guides the molding-shell- transporting-means (4) to fetch and position the back molding shell (12) and/or the front molding shell (11) in or on said sealing means (13), such that together with the sealing means (13) they form a molding cavity (16) . 2. The production line (1) of claim 1, wherein said sealing means (13) is radially extending from said aperture (14) to form a contact area (15) for the front molding shell (11) , and wherein said molding apparatus (2) comprises a radially-acting-means (17) for sealing said sealing means (13) to the back molding shell (12) and an axially-acting-means (18) for axially pressing said front molding shell (11) to said contact area (15) .
3. The production line (1) of claim 1 or 2 , wherein said sealing means (13) comprises a gasket (13), a radially-acting-means (17) for radially enlarging and/or reducing the diameter of said aperture (14) such that in released and/or pressed position said gasket (13) provides a sealing to at least the back molding shell (12) . 4. The production line 1 of anyone of the preceding claims wherein the sealing means (13) comprises a filling opening (201) allowing access of the polymeric material (202) to the molding cavity (16) .
5. The production line (1) of anyone of the preceding claims, that comprises two molding-shell- transporting-means (4), a back-molding-shell- transporting-means (4) for fetching a back molding shell (12) and for positioning said back molding shell (12) in said aperture (14) and a front-molding-shell- transporting-means (4) for fetching a front molding shell (11) and for positioning said front molding shell (11) on said contact area (15).
6. The production line (1) of anyone of the preceding claims, wherein at least one of said olding- shell-transporting-means (4) comprises a molding-shell- fetching means for fetching a molding shell (11, 12) from the molding-shell-storage (3) and putting it on a molding-shell-conveying-means (4) designed to transport said molding shell (11, 12) to the molding apparatus (2), where it is accessible to a molding-shell-positioning means designed to fetch said molding shell (11, 12) and to position said molding shell (11, 12) in or on said sealing means (13) .
7. The production line (1) of claim 6 wherein said molding-shell-fetching means is a robot arm and said molding-shell-conveying-means (4) is a conveyor belt, preferably with trays (61, 62), or a molding shell revolver.
8. The production line (1) of anyone of the preceding claims, wherein said at least one molding- shell-storage (3) is a movable storage or comprises movable storage units.
9. The production line (1) of anyone of the preceding claims, wherein said molding-shell-storage (3) is a storage cassette, comprising the molding shells (11, 12) in an upright position, or preferably a roundabout or revolver storage, comprising several places for different molding shells (11, 12), each of said places being suitable to store one or several molding shells (11, 12) of the same kind. 10. The production line (1) of anyone of the preceding claims, comprising two molding-shell-storages (3), one for front molding shells (11) and one for back molding shells (12).
11. The production line (1) of anyone of the preceding claims, wherein the molding apparatus (2) comprises a stop for positioning the front molding shell (11) , said stop defining an axial position and/or a basic radial position of the front molding shell (11) with respect to the sealing means (13). 12. The production line (1) of claim 11, wherein said stop is at least one fixedly mounted metal part fixing the axial position of the front molding shell (11) independent of an axial force applied.
13. The production line (1) of claim 11 or 12, wherein said stop fits with a mark in or on the front molding shell (11) .
14. The production line (1) of anyone of the preceding claims wherein the front- and/or back molding- shell-transporting-means (4) is or are designed such as to allow rotation of the front molding shell (11) and/or the back molding shell (11) , respectively, about said axis (9), in particular said axis (9) through a center of the sealing means (13) .
15. The production line (1) of anyone of the preceding claims, wherein said front-molding-shell- transporting-means (4) is designed such that radial movement of the front molding shell (11) for decentering the front molding shell (11) is possible.
16. The production line (1) of one of claims 2 to 15 wherein the contact area (15) of said sealing means (13) at least partially surpasses a laterally extending abutting part of the front molding shell (11), in particular in a basic position.
17. The production line (1) of one of claims 2 to 15 wherein a laterally extending abutting part of the front molding shell (11) at least partially surpasses the contact area (15) .
18. The production line (1) of anyone of the preceding claims, wherein the molding apparatus (2) comprises a heat or irradiation curing device (200) , in particular a UN-curing device (200) .
19. The production line (1) of claim 18, wherein said heat or irradiation curing device (200) comprises a heat or irradiation source (215), in particular a UN lamp (215), and control means (218, 220, 219) allowing a spatio-temporal energy distribution control, in particular allowing: a continuous adaptation of an irradiation area in a mold (16) by means of an iris diapragm (218), preferably in combination with an absorption filer (220) , and/or a spatial light modulator (220) to control a curing speed in transverse directions (214) , and/or an intensity level adaptation of the radiation source (215) by means of a radiation source control and/or a spatial light modulator (220) and/or an absorption filter (220) to control a curing speed in an axial direction (213), and/or a preparation of a gaussian, constant or concave beam profile.
20. The production line (1) of anyone of the preceding claims comprising a demolding apparatus (7), in particular together with an assembly-transporting means
(6), for demolding an assembly (70) consisting of a front molding shell (11), a back molding shell (12) and a lens (10) between said molding shells (11, 12), iii particular wherein said assembly-transporting-means (6) is designed for fetching said assembly (70), for transporting said assembly (70) to said demolding apparatus (7), and for positioning said assembly (70) in said demolding apparatus (7) .
21. The production line (1) of claim 20, wherein said assembly-transporting-means (6) comprises an assembly-fetching-means, an assembly-conveying-means and an assembly-positioning-means, said assembly-fetching- means being able to fetch such assembly (70) in the molding apparatus (2) and to deliver it to the assembly- conveyer-means that brings it to the demolding apparatus (7), and said assembly-positioning means being designed for positioning the assembly (70) in a demolding means.
22 The production line (1) of claim 20 or 21, wherein a demolding means comprises at least one lens- force-applying-means (71) for applying force to the lens (10), in particular close to an interface lens (10) /front molding shell (11) , and at least one molding-shell-force- applying-means (72, 73) for application of force to at least one molding shell (11, 12) , in particular to the front molding shell (11) .
23. The production line (1) of anyone of claims 20 to 22, wherein said demolding means comprises a lens holder (74) for positioning the assembly (70) and holding the lens (10) .
24. The production line (1) of claim 23, wherein said lens holder (74) is suitable to apply lens holding force to the lens (10) .
25. The production line (1) of anyone of claims 22 to 24, wherein the lens-force-applying-means (71) and the molding-shell-force-applying-means (72, 73) are such that force is applied to essentially opposite, preferably opposite, sides of the lens (10) and molding shells (11, 12) . 26. The production line (1) of anyone of claims 22 to 25 comprising at least one molding-shell- force-applying-means (72) acting on the front molding shell (11) and at least one molding-shell-force-applying- means (73) acting on the back molding shell (12), said means (72, 73) preferably being placed such that the force provided to the front molding shell (11) is perpendicular to the force provided to the back molding shell (12) .
27. The production line (1) of anyone of claims 22 to 26, wherein the force applied to the lens (10) and the force applied to one of the molding shells (11, 12), in particular the front molding shell (11), are parallel forces acting in a same direction.
28. The production line (1) of anyone of claims 22 to 27, wherein the lens-force-applying-means
(71) has at least one lens-contacting-area (75) with a thickness of t < 2 mm, preferably 1 mm ≤ t ≤ 2 mm, more preferred t=1.5 mm, and a circumferential width W of at least 10 mm, preferably 10 mm < W ≤ 20 mm, more preferred W=16.5 mm.
29. The production line (1) of claim 28, wherein the lens-force-applying-means (71) comprises the lens-contacting-area (75) on a finger with an overhang (76) of 1 mm ≤ 1 ≤ 2 mm, preferably about 1=1.5 mm. 30. The production line (1) of anyone of claims 20 to 29, wherein the force applied by the lens- force-applying-means (71) onto the lens (10) is in a predetermined relation to the force applied by the molding-shell-force-applying-means (72) onto the front molding shell (11, 12), in particular wherein the lens- force-applying-means (71) and the molding-shell-force- applying-means (72) are connected by a fixed or spring- CO ) to to ti*
Ul σ cn o cn cn
and/or in cleaned-molding-shell-transporting-means and/or in used-molding-shell-transporting means.
36. The production line (1) of claim 35 wherein said molding shell (11, 12) is placed in said molding-shell-protection-unit (61, 62) directly after the washing and for the transport to the molding-shell- storage (3) .
37. The production line (1) of anyone of claims 20 to 36, wherein the assembly (70) is placed in a assembly-protection-unit (61, 62) for protection and improved handling, in particular during transport in an assembly-transporting means (6) .
38. The production line (1) of anyone of the preceding claims, wherein at least one, preferably all steps are controlled by said operating unit (5) for automatization.
39. The production line (1) of anyone of the preceding claims wherein said operating unit (5) comprises one or more sub-units selected from the following group
- storage-control unit for addressing and providing the desired molding shells (11, 12),
- molding-control-unit for assembling the front molding shell (11) , the back molding shell (12) and the sealing means (13) such that together they form the molding cavity (16) ,
- molding-operating unit (219) for steering the filling of the molding cavity (16) with lens forming material (202) and for curing the lens forming material (202) in the molding cavity (16) by heat or irradiation,
- assembly-operating-unit for transporting the assembly (70) to the demolding apparatus (7) and for bringing said assembly (70) in a demolding position,
- demolding-operating unit for steering the demolding,
- molding-shell-operating units for transporting the demolded molding shells (11, 12) to a washing means (8) and/or the molding-shell storage (3), and
- lens-operating-unit for transporting the lens (10) to a further treatment and/or a lens storage, and/or a lens packaging unit.
40. The production line (1) of claim 39, wherein the molding-operating unit (219) controls the curing of the lens forming material (202) in the molding cavity (16) by heat or irradiation according to a specific spatio-temporal energy distribution program.
41. The production line (1) of claim 39 or 40, wherein said molding-operating-unit also controls a removal of the sealing means (13) within the molding apparatus (2) . 42. The production line (1) of anyone of claims 39 to 41, wherein said molding-operating-unit (219) or said assembly-operating-unit control a placing of the assembly (70) in an assembly-protecting-unit (61, 62). 43. The production line (1) of anyone of claims 39 to 42, wherein said molding-shell-operating- unit controls a placing of the molding shell (11, 12) in a molding-shell-protecting-unit (61, 62).
PCT/IB2001/000747 2001-05-02 2001-05-03 Lens production line WO2002087860A1 (en)

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Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
DE502004001489D1 (en) * 2004-05-18 2006-10-26 Interglass Technology Ag Method and apparatus for separating a cast lens from a shell mold
US7695666B2 (en) 2004-05-18 2010-04-13 Interglass Technology Ag Method and device for separating a cast lens from a shell mold
DE202012011690U1 (en) * 2012-03-09 2013-03-13 Schneider Gmbh & Co. Kg Plant for processing of optical lenses
EP3170652B1 (en) 2015-11-19 2018-03-21 Interglass Technology AG Method for producing and coating a lens
EP3178640A1 (en) 2015-12-11 2017-06-14 Interglass Technology AG Method and device for aligning and connecting of two mould halves

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EP0183324A2 (en) * 1984-11-28 1986-06-04 I.O.R. INDUSTRIE OTTICHE RIUNITE S.p.A. Plant for the automatic production of organic lenses
EP0318164A2 (en) * 1987-10-29 1989-05-31 Techna Vision, Inc. Lens forming system
US6042754A (en) * 1998-10-30 2000-03-28 Optima, Inc. Continuous extrusion-compression molding process for making optical articles
US6103148A (en) * 1998-02-19 2000-08-15 Technology Resources International Corporation Method for curing a lens-forming fluid

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Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP0183324A2 (en) * 1984-11-28 1986-06-04 I.O.R. INDUSTRIE OTTICHE RIUNITE S.p.A. Plant for the automatic production of organic lenses
EP0318164A2 (en) * 1987-10-29 1989-05-31 Techna Vision, Inc. Lens forming system
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