Optical Design and Manufacturing

Many design engineers are challenged to create products that incorporate optics, without much training in this specialty.  We exist to help you overcome those challenges!  As your optical design and manufacturing partner, our job is to make your project successful. To ensure the best possible outcome, we use the following process.

Needs Assessment

We start by working with you to determine exactly what you need.  If off-the-shelf parts will fulfill your requirements, we will recommend suppliers that stock the parts you need. For prototypes or small quantities, this is often the best route.  However, if you need optics that are not readily available, we will help you create a specification.    Identifying physical constraints is a critical part of this assessment.  One tool we use is the lens specification spreadsheet found on this page.  If your needs don’t fit the template, we are happy to work with sketches, CAD models or verbal descriptions.  The result will be a specification that captures all of your requirements.

Optical and Optomechanical Design

Once we have agreed on a specification, the design work can begin.  For lens design, we use Zemax, SYNOPSYS, CodeV or OSLO, whichever is best suited for your job.  SolidWorks and IronCAD are our tools for mechanical CAD.  We have been using TracePro for illumination analysis since version 1.0, so we know it well enough to wring the last shred of performance out of it.  All of our design work is done in 3D, and we are more than happy to share our design files with you.  No design is complete until all of your specifications are met.

Prototyping

We’re still looking for a good way to do rapid prototyping of lenses, but we can turn around mechanical parts in a few days.  Given that lenses take four weeks to make, we often skip rapid prototyping of the mechanical parts and use machined ones that are still ready before the lenses.  Our machine shop uses CAM to go straight from SolidWorks files to parts, so the parts fit every time.  Making one to seven prototypes is strongly recommended.

Production

We love manufacturing!  We use the same processes and tooling for prototypes that we do for production, at least for quantities of up to ten thousand, so we are ready to start production as soon as we have proven the prototypes.  The quality system is set up as part of prototyping, so it is ready to go.  We are trained in SPC, lean manufacturing and six sigma, so we guarantee a stable production process.

Consultation

Ready to get started?  We’d love to talk with you.  Still not sure?  We offer phone consultation to help you take your next step.  Here is how we’ve helped some design engineers on this phone consultation:

  • A project manager wanted to replace off-the-shelf lenses from a major German manufacturer with custom lenses.  We were able to give them better image quality for half the price.  (OK, this didn’t happen in 15 minutes.)
  • One engineer called with a challenging optical assembly problem; we referred them to an optical shop that was able to solve it.
  • When a manufacturing manager called about an illumination system which was not able to focus light properly.  We were able to determine that it was due to their manufacturing process and advise them on how to fix it.
  • A potential customer called wanting help converting a circular image into an ellipse, and in the fifteen minutes, we were able to offer them options that lead to an even better solution.
  • Many people call and discover that our optical expertise is the ideal complement for their skills!

You can call us directly at (651)315-8249 or via our Contact form.