vision is better than the natural lens before it became diseased. Appasamy produces 300,000 lenses a month, as well as the disposable syringes used to inject them into the eye, and an enormous range of other instruments and equipment used in eye clinics and hospitals. Te company also has an office and lens manufacturing facility in New York City—Ellis Opthal- mics, near JFK airport—the output from which is almost all imported back into India. “Indian doctors want US-made, imported lenses,” says Ravichandran, “even though they cost more.”
Innovation Over Importing Other than lenses, almost all of the company’s milestone
products and innovations over the years have been those that met a local need at a cost far lower than imported equip- ment. Formed 33 years ago, the company is still chaired by its founder, P. S. N. Appasamy. In the 1970s, he worked in the US for a contact lens manufacturer, and soon began his own company making a low-cost product to freeze the nucleus of an eye, ready for removal. At that time, a European company made the only similar machine capable of doing the same job. Te European machine was too expensive for doctors in India. Mr. Appasamy simplified the design, and was able to sell a more suitable product for a far lower price. Te new machine became very popular in India, and made cataract removal a
intraocular lens, it sometimes happens that the capsular bag becomes thicker and “frosted” behind the lens, causing light to scatter before it reaches the retina. To alleviate the problem, a laser is used to perforate the opaque area of the capsule, allow- ing light to penetrate more readily. For 20 years, German optical company Carl Zeiss made the only YAG laser available in India, until Appassamy designed and built a lower-cost version. “Te YAG laser is another Appasamy success story,” says
Ravichandran. “Carl Zeiss only ever sold around 1600 YAG lasers. In the eight years since we launched our product, we have sold 1000 examples.” Appasamy counts more than 10,000 Indian doctors as
its customers, all of whom are looking for lower-cost and simpler alternatives to imported products, such as ultrasound machines that used to cost $200,000–$300,000, but that Ap- pasamy now supplies for just $10,000. Te company’s less-invasive system for replacing intraocular
lenses eliminates the need for surgical stitches, since the hole made to insert the lens is smaller than 5 mm. Te replace- ment lens is furled and injected into the eye, where it unfolds, like a ship in a bottle. By eliminating the need for stitches, the procedure is quicker and easier, and there’s less chance that the eye will deform and lose its shape. As well as making the lenses, Appasamy also makes the single-use syringes, whose molds are machined on a Haas VF-2 Super Speed.
Appasamy customers include more than 10,000 Indian doctors, all of whom are looking for lower-cost and simpler alternatives to imported products.
much more viable procedure, particularly for peripatetic doc- tors taking their services to patients in rural and remote areas. Appasamy employs more than 2500 people: 1380 at its
Puducherry factory, with most of the others based at plants in Calcutta, Chennai, and Delhi. Te company’s current annual sales are more than (US) $2 billion, and many of its mainstay products are made on a line of 20 Haas CNC machine tools at its Puducherry factory. A single Haas Mini Mill, 11 VF-1 vertical machining
centers, and eight SL-10 turning centers make, between them, the parts for 1800 different surgical instruments and pieces of equipment in the Appasamy catalog; products such as micro- scopes and slit-lamps used in clinics and operating theaters, and tonometers for testing the pressure of an eyeball. “Te tonometer is one of our best-selling products, and is
our own design,” says P. Prakash, deputy manager CNC. “All of its 45 different parts are made on the Haas Mini Mill. We make 150 finished units a month.” Another successful, home-grown Appasamy product is a YAG laser. Aſter a cataract is removed and replaced with an
48 Medical Manufacturing 2013 Te Appasamy Slit Lamp alone has 60 components—some
turned, some milled—made from aluminium, stainless and brass. Te company completes 350 assemblies a month, and aims to increase production to 500 a month. Te optical assem- bly for the operating microscope is made on the Haas VF-1s. Tere are two models of the finished product: one with continu- ous magnification, the other with step-magnification, the drum of which is machined in aluminium to 5 µm on the Haas VF-1s. Te Appasamy Keratometer, for measuring the curvature of the cornea, used to be made by a Japanese supplier and imported into India, but is now also made by Appasamy.
Inside the Factory With so many parts and products, it’s not surprising the
company spends a great deal of time and effort designing quick-change fixtures and fittings. Batches are oſten as small as two to five components, and some of the machines are set aside for development work, proving programs—generated by its EdgeCAM soſtware—and reducing cycle times. On the day of my visit, a long line of new Haas machines, still wrapped