Lathe, Lens Diameter Reduction

Hirst Contact Lens Limited, Manufacturer

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Maker and Role
Hirst Contact Lens Limited, Manufacturer
Production Date
Lens Diameter reduction lathe. This machine was built in the engineering workshops of Hirstlens circa 1968. Before this machine was manufactured, contact lenses were stamped out by a punch. This method had a high percentage of breakages. The lathe was therefore a more efficient way of reducing the lens to the finished diameter. It employed a specifically designed diamond tool to cut the lenses.
This object is rectangular, constructed from wood with a white veneer. The top portion which holds the lathe has a back panel and two sloped triangular panels on either side. The right side has a nail sticking out of it. The back panel has a white sticker on the top edge which reads “NEW DIAMOND / 6/8/14”. At the back of the panel is a small metal bracket. There is a black rectangular metal plate on the top of the base secured with screws. The lathe is attached to this. It has a handle at one end and a dial at the other. The dial is white with printed black text “G. NISSEL & CO. LTD. / JOHN / BULL / BRITISH INDICATORS LTD / MADE IN EN[…]”. The scale is hand-written and the scale ranges from 80 to 99 in increments of one. Near the dial is a small vertical plastic cylinder and a horizontal cream coloured piece which is connected to the metal part of the lathe, presumably where the contact lens would be worked on. There is a white tube which connects to a metal bracket half way down on the left side of the box. This is secured with a wing nut. The tube then feeds into the machine at the bottom.
Part 2: Eleven sample chucks, used for mounting the contact lens to be worked by the lathe. These either have a curved top or a an open top depending on which surface of the lens was being worked. The lens would have been attached to the chucks with the open top using dental plaster. The chucks with the curved top have "8.0" hand engraved on the side.
Processed Material/Metal
Processed Material/Synthetic/Plastic
Processed Material/Glass
Signature/Marks and Type
NEW DIAMOND / 6/8/14 Hand-written
8.0 Engraved
Accession No
Credit Line
Hirst Contact Lens Limited. 1968. Lathe, Lens Diameter Reduction, 2018.1.13. The Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT).

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