Insights from the CEO of flō: A Revolutionizing Lens Coating Technology.

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We recently had the opportunity to speak with Jonathan Jaglom, the founder of flō, a company that specializes in using additive manufacturing (3D printing) to produce advanced lens coatings. In our conversation, Jaglom shed light on the inspiration behind the launch of flō and the challenges associated with traditional lens coating processes.

According to Jaglom, the idea for flō came about through a combination of being in the right place at the right time and having the right mindset. He believes that only through the lens of additive manufacturing could they have identified the shortcomings of current coating methods in the ophthalmic industry and developed a solution like flō.

Jaglom first encountered flō when there were only two staff members in the company. However, after being presented with the idea by Dr. Claudio Rottman, the Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of flō, he was instantly intrigued. Two “additive manufacturing minds” collided, and the rest is history. Three years later, flō has made significant strides in disrupting the ophthalmic industry through digital printing.

When discussing the complexities of lens coatings, Jaglom explained that the current methods rely on a wet process wherein lenses are submerged in vats filled with specific solutions, a coating is applied, and then the lenses are removed and cooled. This process is both costly and time-consuming, with issues of repeatability and lack of control over the coating outcome.

This is where flō comes in. By digitizing the coating process, flō enables precise control over the material placement down to the level of a pixel. This level of control opens up new possibilities for creating coatings that have both optical clarity and functional properties. The development of materials that meet these criteria is a challenge that flō’s Materials team is actively working on, in collaboration with industry leaders.

Jaglom also emphasized that optical coatings are not niche products in the ophthalmic industry. Every lens on the market has at least one type of coating, whether it’s for protection, anti-reflectivity, tinting, or other functional purposes. The market for ophthalmic coatings is substantial and far from niche.

In conclusion, flō’s innovative approach to 3D printing lens coatings is set to revolutionize the ophthalmic industry. By leveraging the power of additive manufacturing, flō is solving the limitations of traditional coating processes, offering greater control, repeatability, and functionality. With the continuous development of materials and strategic partnerships, flō aims to provide a strong product-market fit for its groundbreaking technology.

The process of printing on curved surfaces is not an easy task. It requires finding ways to address the various indexes of the lens and print on them, which is a complex challenge. However, at flō, we have a strong and talented team that is dedicated to overcoming these technological challenges.

So, what are the advantages of our new process? Is it more efficient? Less expensive? The key question to ask is, does it solve a problem? As Theodore Levitt once said, “Sell the hole, not the drill.” At flō, our value proposition is very clear and convincing. By using digital printing, we are able to place the dyes of our coatings exactly where desired, improving functionality and reducing costs. Additionally, the digital process is much more repeatable, which is another advantage. Sustainability is also a significant factor, as our cartridges are sealed and can be used multiple times, making it more environmentally friendly. These are all convincing arguments for our target audience – Ophthalmic laboratories – on why they should transition to digital.

With digital coating technology, the functionality of coatings can change. Take tinted coated lenses, for example. Traditionally, the process of coating tinted lenses involves dipping them into a vat with a solution. The color of the solution determines the coating color. However, this method is limited in terms of color options and can be affected by seasonal variations. Skillsets of laborers also play a role in the complexity of tinting coating outcomes. Digital printing eliminates these issues, allowing for more possibilities in terms of color and design. The digital printing process is consistent and repeatable, regardless of weather or operator, providing a huge advantage.

Now, how will we deploy this technology? Will we sell machines or offer services? Our model is similar to what I know from my past experience at Stratasys. We will sell systems and the consumables that come after. This consumable-driven business model has proven successful in the past, and we believe it will be the same for flō.

As for funding, the investors behind flō are the same as those behind Stratasys when it first started. We are committed to long-term success and focused on bringing impactful and disruptive technology to the ophthalmic industry. We are confident in our business plan and are not actively seeking new investors at this time.

In conclusion, printing on curved surfaces is a complex challenge, but with our digital printing technology, we can overcome these challenges and offer a more efficient and cost-effective solution. The possibilities for coatings are endless, and we are excited to bring this technology to the ophthalmic industry.

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