Cantor + Nissel is the leading independent contact lens manufacturing company in Europe and it has distributors in all European countries. Founded in 1964, the company has grown by expansion and acquisition and has a history of innovation. Its product range now includes not only soft and rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses but also as toric, tinted, cosmetic and prosthetic lenses and even artificial prosthetic and animatronic eyes, and their lenses are prescribed by eyecare practitioners in over 60 countries worldwide. Their speciality is hand-painted lenses for patients who have scarring, no iris, double vision, divergency or similar defects of one eye and require a lens to match their good eye. "Each is bespoke for the individual patient - one of a kind", says Teresa Cataldo, Manager of Custom Hand Paint, "they come to us because we offer a personal service and the end product is of the highest quality."
But it's not all about eye defects: film and TV is a big market. "They come to us with all sorts of designs, lenses to age the eyes, dead eyes, bloodshot eyes, zombie - any design that is asked for, we can and will do", says Teresa. "We've done lots of lenses for TV including Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders, Josh Harnett and Rory Kinnear in Penny Dreadful and the White Walkers in Game of Thrones."
All the manufacturing, from raw material to finished product, is carried out at their factory in Brackley, Northamptonshire. Cantor + Nissel is an accredited CE quality assured company, and their, ChromaGen™ system of colored lenses, which provides a quick and reliable screening test for visual dyslexia, is the only FDA approved diagnostic system for the management of color discrimination and reading disorders.
The factory produces hundreds of prescription contact lenses every day on a 24 hour turn round. Each lens is submersed in saline solution, packaged in a vial which is capped and crimp sealed. The vials are steam sterilized to guarantee a three year shelf life as long as the seal is not broken. For this critical step, Cantor + Nissel use four Astell AMB230 43 liter, front loading, benchtop autoclaves. Increasing production meant that additional capacity was needed and Engineering Manager, Ashley Rogers decided to replace the two oldest autoclaves with two new larger AMB240 63 liter models giving an overall increase in capacity of 25%.
The autoclaves are in almost constant operation, so reliability is of paramount importance. "In our experience, Astell autoclaves are by far the most consistent on the market", says Ashley. "They are especially well built and Astell has very well trained engineers to carry out break down and service visits". Rapid cycle times are important, but so is flexibility. "The latest version of Astell's control software is really user friendly, and it allows us to create our own cycle parameters so that we can run different cycles depending on the products being sterilised."
All four units are "Ecofill" versions with integral water reservoirs. Once filled, the reservoir provides water for up to 15 cycles and also, acts as a collection vessel for condensate and the water that is automatically returned from the chamber at the end of each cycle. This means that the manufacturing technicians can concentrate on production without having to worry about filling the autoclave each cycle and, because condensate is recovered, operating costs are reduced.
Other features of the Astell Benchtop autoclave range include:
- A choice of 33, 43 and 63 liters models
- Self-contained design with no installation required
- A fully programmable touch screen color controller
- Five pre-programmed cycles and up to 50 available
- Five password levels to stop lower level users making changes
- Timed/Pulsed Free Steaming
- USB interface
- Ultra quick door mechanism
- Over Temperature Protection