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Characteristics and uses of Optical Monomers

ACOMON’s RAV 7® and RAVolution® monomers are primarily used for optical applications providing exceptional clarity and durability. Products are typically water white, highly transparent plastics that resemble glass, but are safer, lighter and tougher. Lenses for prescription glasses and sunglasses, goggles, protection sheets for welding masks, safety shields, photographic filters, medical and industrial instruments, navigational instruments, radiation detectors, oscilloscopes, outdoor workstations, security sensors and touch screens are some examples.

Optical monomers are clear, solvent free liquids that are transformed into solid, transparent polymers by a casting process. The basic procedure for RAV 7® monomers is to add a small amount of a hardening agent (initiator) to the pure optical monomer and transferring the mixture to a suitable mould. By heating the liquid monomer /hardener mixture, it is transformed into a solid, glassy and transparent polymer.

RAV 7® monomers create Thermoset Polymers that are especially suited for optical applications as they show exceptional resistance to outdoor conditions, heat, chemicals, solvents, even gamma radiation. Typical uncoated transmission values are 92% with a haze below 0.3%, very little birefringence and an unprecedented chromatic aberration (Abbe Value) of 58, making it ideal for imaging applications. RAV 7® based thermoset polymers are referred to sometimes as ‘organic glass’, even though they are plastic materials.

RAVolution® is a two component, solvent free product that is cast in a similar way as described above, with the additional advantage of obtaining an even higher impact resistance, without compromising the optical quality.

Articles made from RAV 7® and RAVolution® monomers can be machined to their final shape by cutting, surfacing, grinding, drilling or edging, followed by polishing, depending on the need and the functionality. The thermosetting behaviour helps to facilitate these machining operations. Other polymers like nylon or polycarbonate are thermoplastic materials and require specialized machining procedures.

Exceptional stability to UV radiation (sunlight) is inherent in articles made of RAV 7® and RAVolution® monomers. UV absorbers, or stabilizers are added however, to provide additional protection from harmful UV radiation to eyewear users.

Eyeglass lenses for prescription glasses and sunglasses are predominantly made by a casting / curing process using RAV 7® and RAVolution® monomers. Lenses can be made as simple single vision, or intricate multi focal and progressive designs. With high power negative and positive correction lenses, bi- or trifocal lenses or progressive lenses, control of the curing operation is of vital importance for optimizing the production. ACOMON has recognized this by introducing products that have low curing shrinkage and good mould release properties. This helps lens producers to achieve low production cost levels, long mould life and high yields.

RAVolution® has the lowest curing shrinkage of all. This polyurethane system is the latest addition to our product portfolio and combines many special features. It was designed to be an improved RAV 7®, but without any compromise to the optical, stability and machining properties. RAVolution® has an impact resistance five times higher than RAV 7® and is 17% lighter, thus adding to increased wearer comfort, but also to lower material consumption for lens manufacturers. Its high Abbe Value of 54, its super water white appearance and its toughness, make it suitable for thin, safe and aesthetically attractive prescription glasses and sunglasses, including rimless eyewear designs.

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