Superior Cuvette (™), a product and division of Custom Glass and Synthetic Design, LLC has developed a cuvette which is ideal for research as well as certain treatments, including ultraviolet blood irradiation.
When used for UV research or treatment, researchers and published scientists have come to certain unanimous conclusions:
- The surface of the chamber or cuvette which first comes into contact with the UV light rays must be flat. The reason is quantified in an equation known as Snell’s Law. Simply put, transmission is maximized when the surface is flat. The greater the curve, the greater the index of refraction, which represents the amount of light rays which bounce away from the surface, and the less the amount that transmits through the surface.
- The material used to produce the chamber or cuvette must be made from the highest purity quartz possible. Amongst materials which are, potentially, affordable, pure quartz allows for the greatest transmission within the UV spectrum.
To their credit manufacturers have developed the best cuvettes that they could, given limitations they confronted. Typically, prior to manufacture, quartz comes in tubular shapes. Those tubes are then molded into different forms. That molding process is difficult, time consuming, and very expensive. So, prior manufacturers, while not able to efficiently or consistently mold quartz tubes into effective flat shapes, were able to obtain the raw tube shapes and slice them into equal lengths. This was far from ideal, but, at least to a limited extent, it did allow for UV transmission, which, in turn, provided, at least, some possible benefits.
It is difficult to obtain complete control over a quartz manufacturing process. Until the introduction of the Superior Cuvette, cuvette distributors were not able to accomplish this level of control. While they certainly desired a pure quartz product, their reality has fallen short. On average, the quartz purity of other available cuvettes averages around 70%. Again, this is much better than nothing. While not approaching the transmission results of pure quartz, 70% purity allows for, at least, some transmission in the UV spectrum.
Bottom Line: Until the introduction of the Superior Cuvette, manufacturers, while certainly using their best efforts, produced chambers/cuvettes which were very deficient. With the impurity endemic to all of them and the curved shape of most of them, the transmission results were far less than that specified by the founding researchers and published scientists. For example, the best selling tubular cuvette transmits at 48% at the ideal germicidal frequency of 254 nanometers. As explained, at the same frequency, the transmission using the Superior Cuvette is approximately 86%. All transmission results were derived from tests performed by The Solar Light Company, likely the premier third party lab of its type in the U.S., with more than 65,000 clients, including virtually every major U.S. based company. Their clients include NASA, SpaceX, J&J, and Microsoft. We emphasize that these other cuvette developers produced items that were likely the best that could be done with the resources at their disposal. However, given their shape, and the lack of purity of materials, these 'competitive' cuvettes do not offer anything near Superior Cuvette's transmission percentages. See the Cuvette Comparison section of this website for an actual comparison. While the design and manufacture of the Superior Cuvettes do take a great deal of scientific know-how; understanding that a round surface will bounce off more light that a curved surface should be intuitively clear.
A few have worked toward an improved product by designing and manufacturing a flat cuvette. Their focus was clearly to obtain that product specified by the pioneers and subsequent researchers of the UBI process. But, they did not succeed. Because of the very high production costs, they were forced to sell their products at an average of around $120 each. In turn, this pushed practitioners to actually reusing these cuvettes — a really bad practice. Doing this raises safety and legal issues. Further, regardless of the sterilization and cleaning processes, after around three uses, the transmission effectiveness of any such cuvette declines by a huge percentage — so much as to put any continuing efficacy into question.
It took around two years to develop the Superior Cuvette. We solved the two serious issues, which had were insurmountable up until its introduction:
- All Superior Cuvettes are, at least, 99.99% pure quartz.
- We have now succeeded in manufacturing the cuvettes in the desired, flat shape.
We can achieve these results because we have enough control over the entire manufacturing process as well as strict quality control procedures. Our ability to manufacture efficiently is highly proprietary.
The Solution: We can now deliver to practices and researchers exactly that item which has been specified by all published researchers and scientists, and the single design that has, actually, been tested through published studies. And we can do it at an affordable price.
What We Cannot Do: While we have taken the flat cuvette design and moved the needle so that we can produce with virtually total purity at costs that are a fraction of those incurred by our predecessors, our costs of production will always be higher than our tubular competitors. While they slice pre-existing tubes to turn them into cuvettes, they don't go through the complicated molding process that we must in order to produce the Superior Cuvette. And, likely, the only reason that they deliver a product that is far less than pure quartz is not by their choice, but rather a lack of control of the process. We don't doubt that they would prefer a pure product if they could afford it. We actually do have enough control to ensure the purity; so, we do.
Most view sterilization and assembly as a detail. So, while probably acting in good faith, the majority of the tubular competitions have their products assembled and sterilized in Mexico. On the other hand, with Superior Cuvette, we don't do that. Perhaps it will turn out that, with these competitors, that all of their assemblies turn out clean and sterile: we sincerely hope so. We insist on something more secure. We ensure that this work is done in the U.S. by FDA approved devices. Perhaps a bit old fashioned on our side; however, we can rest easy knowing that all of the Superior Cuvettes are sterilized consistent with FDA safety considerations.
The underlying intent of outsourcing to Mexico is both clear and for positive reasons. Those distributors want to minimize their costs so that they can deliver to their clients at affordable prices, while still making very healthy profits.
Our Higher Costs: Our costs will always be significantly higher, so we have a different approach: we have made a conscious decision to drastically reduce our profit margin — to the point that, while, from a quality perspective, the Superior Cuvette bears virtually no resemblance to all other available cuvettes, we have priced them at rates that are similar. So, we have determined to bear the item burden of this cost difference. Naive ? Perhaps; however, we know that the Superior Cuvette is simply better (not our view, but that of research scientists and the premier testing lab in the U.S.). We think that practices should be able to acquire them without major cost considerations. One more thing: we feel that if a company engages in practices of skirting the law — even if there is no intended malice, then that will result in permanently branding that company as being in the “grey area”. So, when distributors assemble their products in Mexico, they have to falsify documents at the time of importation. They simply don't have another way. The Superior Cuvette is what we state it to be. However, when the tubular cuvette folks import their products into the US, they label them as ‘water purification supplies’. Without making judgments as to the practices of others, Superior Cuvette simply does not and will not engage in such practices.
Gimmicks and Workarounds: We don't fault other distributors, as they are producing the best products within their abilities, given their resources. Some, however, speak to various gimmicks and workarounds. For example, one of these distributors inserts a corkscrew-like device into its cuvettes. Well, testing shows that the insert causing 10% less transmission at key wavelengths and will, likely, damage blood cells. Some of them state that they can make up with higher intensity what they cannot do via good design. They can’t. There does not exist a single published study which supports this concept. A review of the concept actually suggests that increasing the intensity can damage the blood cells. Some have fought back by stating that it uses the exact amount of light energy, combined with its design so as to optimize results. We don't disparage their thought process; however, there does not exist a single bit of evidence provided by a qualified third party objective source which supports such a theory.
The Old Fashioned Approach: While perhaps really old fashioned in making the Superior Cuvette, we have concluded not to take any short cuts. Rather than trying to fly under the FDA radar, we introduced ourselves to them and obtained an FDA Organization ID Number. Rather than assembly and sterilizing in Mexico so as to minimize costs, all Superior Cuvette work happens in the US. We then avoid an issue of being less than forthright to border agents. We have decided to spend a great deal to obtain significant control over production and quality. Maybe we would do ok by skipping our quality steps, but we simply won't do that either. And we are satisfied accepting far lower profit margins. We take a long term view and have this old fashioned belief that the interests of our clients i.e. the practices, actually are the highest priority.
Support: We believe that our clients are entitled to any support they request for any statements which we make. Whether that is the raw data from The Solar Light Company, the third party light testing lab used; the Organization ID Number; or the actual published studies which we have referred to, upon request, we provide these things. While various claims are made by other cuvette manufacturers and distributors, we suggest that the criteria should relate to Supported Claims. When Superior Cuvette states that all published researches have insisted on the flat cuvette or chamber, we are prepared to provide names. We will provide citations. Medical practices are entitled to nothing less. Likewise, if we are asked for our FDA Organization ID Number, our response is to provide it. We will never deflect such a question by saying something like, 'well, we will look for that, but in the meantime, 5 years ago, we applied by CE certification.' Rather, our practice is to provide a direct answer and provide support. And this might mean that, financially, we may not sell as many products as others because we will not represent our products as panaceas nor will we make any claims without support. Rather, our company is data driven, and toward that end, we have and will continue to find and use the absolute best resources available to us.