While your optics can last years if properly maintained, it is a good idea to have a spare optics kit around just in case.
99% of all optic failures are due to not properly maintaining them and/or not having adequate air assist. It is vitally important that you understand how the optics work and that you regularly inspect, clean, and adjust the optics. PM schedules can be found below. It is also important to know how the air assist works and how to set it properly.
if the lens is in proper condition, it will absorb very little beam energy. nothing is 100% efficient but, if your lens is getting hot enough to be a problem, it won't take long to show up.
Air doesn't have to blow on the lens. the idea is to have enough air to have a higher pressure in the nozzle than the ambient pressure. this will theoretically keep all the smoke away from the lens.
Additionally, if you run the pressure too high (this is for those with ext. air sources), it can create a venturi effect and actually suck in smoke.
and moisture/condensation in the airline is a quick lens killer so if you are running external air, make sure you have aterquate moisture separation systems
Here is the most common failure we see.
It takes surprisingly little to disrupt that little beam of light so even a haze on the optic can affect it and the condition continues to deteriorate to the point of critical failure.
It goes something like this... a haze gets on the optic and causes some of the beam energy to be expended on it since it occludes the beam. that area becomes hotter and more debris sticks to it making it darker which absorbs more beam energy. so its thermal runaway. once the crystal gets hot enough the optic delaminates and/or cracks.
Here is a typical example of this anomaly:
It looks as if the crystal may have delaminated (and/or the coating(s)) in and immediately around the area where the beam is concentrated as, evidenced by the halo around the affected area. This is a typical result of thermal insult.
Here is another example:
And another view of the same optic:
This example suffered from the same condition as the first example just at higher power levels and/or longer time of exposure before the problem manifested itself.
It is vitally important that you understand how the optics work and that you regularly inspect, clean , and adjust the optics.
You can find info on cleaning the optics here: Inspecting and Cleaning Nova Series Optics
You can find the Preventative Maintenance schedule here: Preventative maintenance checklist
as well as in the Unified Owners Manual (just about everything you need to know it in the manual. it should be referenced often): Nova Series Users Manual
YOU CAN GET THUNDER LENSES HERE