Satisloh, a manufacturer of machines for ophthalmic and precision optics production and part of the Essilor Group, has won this year’s German Federal Ecodesign Award with its heavy metal-free lens manufacturing – the first time the jury has honored an innovative production process. The German Federal Environment Ministry and the Federal Environment Agency created the Ecodesign awards in 2012 to honour innovative products, services and concepts that demonstrate outstanding ecological quality, an innovative approach and high design quality. The scheme also reviewed all aspects of Satisloh’s lens production approach – from choice of raw materials, manufacturing techniques, production, use, re-use/recycling and disposal.
German Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks presents the Ecodesign Award 2014 to Dr. Frank Breme, Satisloh Chief Technology Officer (left) and Hans Peter Eigenmann, Head of Region EMEA / India (right)
Satisloh’s award represents the first time that the jury has honored an innovative production process. “By replacing heavy metals and rare earth elements used in manufacturing, Satisloh improves both occupational safety and the environmental impact of the production of ophthalmic lenses” said Dr. Thomas Holzmann, Vice President of the Federal Environmental Agency and member of the jury of the Federal Ecodesign price.
Lenses are produced using a process in which the ‘raw’ lens is connected with a ‘block-piece’ for machining. This block piece was traditionally made from cast aluminium and bonded with metal alloys requiring rare earth elements like Indium. With its alloy replacement technology (ART), Satisloh has introduced a universal, reusable plastic block-piece and environmentally-friendly organic adhesive to hold the lens in place during generating and polishing. A key advantage of ART is that companies can integrate it quickly and cost-effectively into existing production lines as the block-piece fits all common equipment – both automatic and manual. Introducing this greener alternative throughout the worldwide lens manufacturing industry could potentially bring significant environmental benefits.