Pioneers in milling lenses

Founded in 1985 by Stefano Sonzogni and Raffaele Scudeletti, Mei has, throughout its history, focused on developing numerical control machinery. In early 2000, the company revolutionised the optical market by being the first to introduce milling into the process of edging ophthalmic lenses. From 2014, the company decided to bring this technology to small laboratories and retail stores. We sat down with the company’s President and Technical Director, Stefano Sonzogni, to learn more about this business.

What is your core business?
Mei was the first company to introduce milling technology into the ophthalmic lens edging process and today remains a major supplier of industrial machinery to leading lens manufacturers and optical chains worldwide. Unlike the more common grinding process, the milling technology enables us to significantly increase not only the flexibility of machines (shapes and edge bevels that cannot be carried out with oldfashioned grinders) but also their productivity. In addition, the technology is suitable for lenses made of any kind of organic material and guarantees a faster and more stable process when compared to grinding. Thanks to this process, you can cut any kind of lens into a complex shape.
The key areas that we are working towards are finishing and assembling eyewear: we make machines that use milling technology to edge corrective and sunglass lenses, so that they can then be fitted into frames.

How is your company structured globally and what are your target markets?
In addition to our headquarters near Bergamo, Italy – where our manufacturing and research and development activities take place – we have three more main sites located abroad in Chicago, Hong Kong and São Paulo that offer support services and have warehouses for spare parts. We work hard to offer solutions for all clients worldwide; we make machines of different sizes, productivities and with different automation levels so that any client from anywhere in the world can find a product suited to their own business volumes, regardless of the size of their company.

What do you offer to optical laboratories?
We offer machines that edge corrective lenses and sunglass lenses based on dry–cutting technology. The special structure of the working area enables users to keep shear stress to a minimum, reduce waste, process oleophobic lenses effectively, increase cutting flexibility for wrap frames and improve the speed of the process. Starting in 2014 with the launch of our compact EzFit solution, we have been committed to bringing milling technology to small laboratories and retail stores. In actual fact, the machine is able to process any edge type, with different bevels, and to edge lenses for any type of frame. With the EzFit, customers can obtain the performance levels of an industrial machine within their stores, with the added advantage of a machine that is easy to operate. It features a system that allows tools to auto-calibrate, as well as guided walkthroughs on how to use the machinery, making it very easy to operate, even for first-time users. The machinery enables retail stores to increase productivity by speeding up processing times and reducing manufacturing costs. This is particularly beneficial for stores that deliver glasses within 30/60 minutes, which often suffer from high workloads during busy periods of the day.

How do you deal with the issue of the environment with your products?
Dry-cutting does not produce polluted water that has to be treated. It only produces easily recyclable residues. In addition, tools that are small in size enable the user to cut excess material into whole pieces, reducing the overall volume of leftover material.
TBA technology – which enables users to control power and cut without the aid of centering blocks, lens protective films and self-adhesive discs – further reduces waste material.

What are you going to present at MIDO 2018?
We have a number of new developments in the pipeline, but for strategic commercial reasons, we can’t reveal any details for the time being.